Every NFL team is going through the same process, taking a final look at many of the so called bubble players to make a decision on forming their roster. Each team has their own formula for success which is why the method can be so different. At this point, the majority of players who will see significant time on the field during the season have already solidified their place on the Philadelphia Eagles roster. But for those other players, time is ticking and there are few opportunities left to impress. 22 cuts is a lot to make by Saturday, so where will the Eagles be able to cut back to shape the most effective roster?
The simplest place to identify that someone needs to go is quarterback. The Eagles currently have five quarterbacks on their 75 man roster. There is no reason to keep all five on the roster when for any given game, no more than three will dress. It has become obvious through playing time and production that behind Michael Vick on the depth chart are Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, respectively. That leaves Dennis Dixon and G.J. Hinne on the outside looking in come Saturday and final roster cuts.
Another position where the Eagles have carried more players than necessary into the final week before rosters are cut down is at the safety position. This decision is most likely due to the fact that they are still trying to figure out who is going start alongside Patrick Chung. Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will both see time in the final preseason game, but regardless of which wins the starting job, both will make the final roster. In addition to the three aforementioned, the Eagles still have three other safeties currently on the roster. Colt Anderson, David Sims, and Kurt Coleman are all fighting for spots on this team, come Thursday against the New York Jets, with safety being a glaring spot where the Eagles can drop some numbers. This could also be a position where Chip Kelly looks to players waived by other teams to fill the position rather than players currently on the roster.
Sticking to the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles are carrying 13 players at the linebacker position. After the starting four, the list must be drastically cut to make the roster size manageable. High profile names that have spent time with the Eagles in previous seasons include Casey Matthews and former first round draft pick Brandon Graham, who could be on the wrong side of the coin if they don’t display the necessary qualities in the final preseason game. Rookie Jake Knott, who has had a stellar camp and shown extremely well, including on special teams, is also part of this group.
Taking a look back at the other side of the ball to help make it to the final number, the Eagles are still carrying extras at the wide receiver position, with a total of nine. This group is still quite young with four of the six non-starters being either rookies or second year players. Depth at this position will be key, especially after the season ending injury to Jeremy Maclin, but this is another position where cuts will have to be made.
Although the Eagles will make cuts across the gamut of positions, the final grouping which holds a large number that could go is the offensive line. With this being a big strength of who the Eagles are this season, keeping large numbers will probably not be in the cards for Kelly. Look for numbers to be moved here which may include former 2011 first round draft pick Danny Watkins who has shown difficulty over the past year plus and has fallen considerably on the depth chart.
Coach Kelly’s job will not be a fun one come the end of the week, but the roster needs to be cut down so the real work can get underway. Making those tough moves to get to 53 comes with the territory.