Sunday, September 02, 2007

Analyzing the Eagles "Final" 53-man Roster

I put final in quotes "" because I'm not so sure the Eagles won't make a move if a player they like comes around. But as it stands, the Eagles kept 25 players on Offense, 25 players on Defense and 3 specialist (P, K, Long-snapper).

Breaking down the O:
3 QBs, 4 Back, 5 WR, 3 TEs, 10 OL.
The Quarterbacks and Offensive Line are the easiest to gauge:

QB - McNabb, A.J. Feeley, and Kevin Kolb. No mystery here folks. We've known this was going to be the line-up since, oh, the April draft. The only "surprise" has been of a pleasant variety - because Kolb looks good - damn good.

OL - Thomas, Herremans, Jackson, Andrews, Runyan return as Top 5. Justice, McCoy, Cole, Young and Max Jean-Gilles all return as the Top Reserves. Wow, that's some stability. Usually the Eagles find someone new to rotate into the mix, but it seems like Cole, Max, Young and McCoy held off the competition (I think Winston Justice is safe, and almost counted on be a starter in 2008). I see Justice and Cole as almost guaranteed as dressing during game. Justice is our top Reserve T and Cole can swing to G or C. If the Eagles dress 8 OL - it will be interesting to see if Scott Young or MJ-G gets the nod. I don't think McCoy will dress much at all (I'd be shocked actually). No doubt the Eagles like the guy, but if McCoy sees the field this year "we in trouble" and that's putting it mildly.

Backs (RB/FB) - Westbrook (duh), Buck, Tony Hunt and Thomas Tapeh. OK - no real surprises here. Buck returns as our top back-up and I expect Tony Hunt to dress and maybe get a couple touches a game early in the season, just to see how he does in "real" games. Is he ready to step-up when the "bullets are flying" and grind out some tough yards for the Birds? Those early carries will go a long way to determining whether or not he stays activated consistently throughout the season (injuries will play a part as well). Also by keeping just 4 total backs I think that means we're almost guaranteed to keep a back or two on the practice squad. Nate Ilaoa and Jason Davis seems the most likely candidates. This way, in case something does happen, as least there is somebody familiar with the system who can step-up and try and chip-in.

TE - L.J., Matt Schobel and Brent Celek. Obviously if L.J. is healthy and stays that way - then I won't expect to see much of Brent Celek (since teams have to deactive 7-8 players each game, I don't there's enough room to dress all 3 TEs each and every game). What we DID see in the preseason was fairly encouraging. He got some quality time with the 1s, and acquitted himself nicely. L.J. is a much more polished package and there will/would be a drop-off is he wasn't in there. Celek look like a keeper. If the Birds don't want to match L.J.'s price (the going rate is probably similar to the 6 yr, 30 million dollar deal (14 mill guaranteed) that HB/TE Chris Cooley just got from the Redskins; then Celek will have a real prominent role for the Eagles in the future.

Wide Receivers - Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis, Avant, Baskett and GLew. No surprises in the Top 4 - we all expected that. Perhaps the most interesting development: Jason Avant rise to the third wideout position with a strong camp. Baskett won't disappear - he's too big and has too much play-making potential to completely disappear. And finally, once again Greg Lewis does enough to make the team. I can remember last year, when some folks on the boards were calling for GLew's departure (and bemoaning his continued presence on the roster). With Bloom getting cut, we might get to see a bit more of GLew as he could very well be our punt returner of record. I think we'll dress all 5 each game.

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