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Young Core Fuels Eagles' Roster

Posted Jan 17, 2014

It is a roster built with durable success in mind, and here is a key number to remember: As the current Eagles stand, only 9 players are aged 30 and above. There is plenty of tread on this young tire ...

The state of the roster is a constant point of evaluation for general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly, and while they are going to add competition to every position in the months ahead, those who run the team have to be pleased with the foundation in place.

Of the plus-30 group, there are some key players. Left tackle Jason Peters, left guard Evan Mathis and right guard Todd Herremans are among the nine players 30 and over, and so adding depth to the offensive line is an important piece in the long-term puzzle here.

Punter Donnie Jones and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos are 30-plus, as is linebacker/pass rusher Trent Cole. Understood. It's a reasonably small handful of players who, despite their advanced age (by NFL standards), still have a lot of football left. Peters and Mathis are Pro Bowl offensive linemen -- Peters was voted in and declined, while Mathis was added as an alternate this week -- and Jones had a high-quality season, as did Dorenbos and Herremans. All of the above played in every game in 2013.

The others in the older-than-30 group? Quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jason Avant and wide receiver/special teamer Brad Smith and all of them are healthy and still fine football players.

What really excites is the fresh face of the roster, particularly the impact the last two drafts have had. From the 2012 draft, the defense has been bolstered by defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Brandon Boykin. That draft produced quarterback Nick Foles and running back Bryce Brown for the offense.

That's seven players right there who have been productive already, and who have yet to hit their peaks.

Last April's draft had an immediate impact on the 2013 season. First-round draft pick Lane Johnson started all 16 games and played well at right tackle. Tight end Zach Ertz played like a seasoned pro and is going to be a huge part of the offense moving forward. Bennie Logan became a starter along the defensive line and factors into the picture prominently. Safety Earl Wolff was making promising strides until a knee injury interrupted his rookie campaign.

There's of talent on this here roster, and most of it is young and developing. How much of the roster will be turned over between now and the time the 53-man roster is established in September? Where will Roseman and Kelly focus their efforts? From a very solid starting lineup, where will the Eagles make changes?

One of the important mantras in the NFL is not to fall in love with your roster, and instead keep challenging every position and adding competition. The Eagles have room to maneuver within the confines of the salary cap and they have seven draft picks with which to work. There are going to be moves made, of course, and some will be significant. There is no sense that the Eagles were "satisfied" with a 10-7 record in Kelly's first year at the helm.

It's all speculation now as free agency creeps closer (it begins on March 11) and the May 8-10 draft takes shape with the post-season college practices and games underway.

Know this, though: The Eagles have a good thing going. The mark of a strong football organization is to bounce back quickly from the inevitable down times. The Eagles have done that after missing out on the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.

Now they're going to build on the foundation formed by the drafts of 2012 and 2013. Another strong offseason will put the Eagles in contending position, perhaps for seasons to come.

Age, then, is not a daunting factor here. The Eagles have an excellent mix on a roster that is constantly being evaluated and changed.

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