It’s down to the wire ahead of the NFL Draft on Thursday night as the Eagles complete their due diligence. They’ve got seven draft picks in all, including three among the first 57. And while most of the attention and reaction is directed toward the first pick, No. 25 overall, the Eagles know they have a chance to greatly impact the roster in a span of three nights/days.
Speaking of the roster, the Eagles have a good one already, so here is a look at the State of the Eagles Roster heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
There are three on the roster, led by Carson Wentz. Nate Sudfeld, who signed his one-year tender, is in position to back up Wentz this season and Luis Perez, who has never played in an NFL regular-season game, is the third quarterback here.
The trade to acquire Jordan Howard completely changed the complexion of the running back room. With Howard on board, the Eagles have an experienced, proven, and highly productive running back who was outstanding in his three seasons with the Bears. His ruggedness, consistency, and durability will be welcomed in this offense. The Eagles have good pieces around Howard with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement leading the way. Smallwood has been productive when given the chance in the offense. Clement is coming off a 2018 injury and, when healthy, is an excellent receiver and blocker in pass protection, and he’s run the football well in limited chances. Second-year man Josh Adams looks to build on his promising rookie campaign. The Eagles claimed Boston Scott off the Saints’ practice squad for a reason last year and want to see him in the system. Then there’s Donnell Pumphrey, in his third season and trying to break through. Running back is a crowded, talented, and versatile room for the Eagles heading into this draft.
Is there a better 1-2 punch at tight end than Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert? The Eagles think they have something special here and plan to take full advantage of the Pro Bowl standout (Ertz) and the extremely talented second-year player (Goedert). Richard Rodgers signed a two-year contract during free agency to return and compete for a roster spot, and the Eagles also have Joshua Perkins and Will Tye, both of whom have experience and pass-catching skills.
Another move during the free agency period dramatically altered this position. Acquiring DeSean Jackson in a trade with Tampa Bay provides the breathtaking deep speed the offense loves, and Jackson is eager to again be a difference-maker in the passing game. He joins Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor as a 1-2-3 combination, and then the Eagles have a host of younger receivers vying for roster spots and playing time. Players like Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Johnny Horton, Braxton Miller, and Charles Johnson – all of whom have NFL experience – are in the mix. The Eagles have put together a dynamic group here that can attack defenses in a multitude of ways.
An outstanding offensive line returns largely intact, with the exception of guard/center Stefan Wisniewski, who is a free agent. Otherwise, the Eagles are in great shape here with all five starters – Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson, left to right – back for another season together. The question, of course, is Brooks as he recovers from the Achilles tendon injury suffered in the playoff loss at New Orleans. From a depth standpoint, the Eagles have a proven player in swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and then some youth with guard Matt Pryor and tackle Jordan Mailata. Guard/center Anthony Fabiano has been on a handful of practice squads and has spent some time on active rosters, but he has yet to suit up for a regular-season game. Same with guard Kaleb Johnson, who has been on NFL rosters since the 2015 season and not yet found a long-term fit.
A revamped group after the Eagles traded end Michael Bennett and signed tackle Malik Jackson and end Vinny Curry, the Eagles have a lot to work with here. At end, they have a rotation that includes Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, and Curry. Youngsters Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, and Joe Ostman will push for roster spots. Inside, Fletcher Cox and Jackson should form a strong 1-2 tandem, with Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector in the rotation for reserve snaps.
Nigel Bradham is the headline player at linebacker, a group that looks to have success with its collective parts all chipping in. L.J. Fort was signed in free agency to provide depth and competition across the linebacker board and we just don’t know enough about him yet to project where he fits. Kamu Grugier-Hill made some plays in his first extended playing time in the Eagles’ defense last season and should be even better in 2019. Nathan Gerry is ready to take his next step forward after contributing in ’18. Paul Worrilow missed all of last season with a knee injury and the veteran with extensive starting experience wants to find a starting role somewhere in the linebacker lineup.
Bringing Ronald Darby back with a new contract makes this group one of the most anticipated battles of the spring and summer. Darby still has to come all the way back from a knee injury, as Jalen Mills does as he returns from a 2018 foot injury, so there are moving parts here that must be resolved. But … the Eagles sure are going to see some competition in Training Camp. Second-year man Avonte Maddox is going to be hard to keep off the field in his second season, Rasul Douglas looks to build off a strong second year, Sidney Jones is fully healthy and ready to compete in his third season, and Cre’Von LeBlanc showed up and made a difference as a nickel cornerback last season. Young veterans Chandon Sullivan and Josh Hawkins are also pushing and very much in the mix as the Eagles ultimately look to build depth here after suffering so many injuries in 2018.
With Rodney McLeod doing all the right things in his rehab and on the way to a full recovery after his injury early last season, the duo of McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins should pick up right where it left off prior to McLeod going down. Simply put, they were great together and should resume that level of play. Signing Andrew Sendejo in free agency gives the Eagles a solid third safety who allows Jenkins to move around the defense. Tre Sullivan made positive strides last season and looks for more playing time in 2019.
All good here, with Jake Elliott as the placekicker, Cameron Johnston as the punter, and Rick Lovato as the long snapper. In the return game, the Eagles have plenty of options that will be sorted out in Training Camp and in the preseason.