5 Darkhorse Candidates to Make Philadelphia Eagles Final 53-Man Roster

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIJuly 7, 2013

5 Darkhorse Candidates to Make Philadelphia Eagles Final 53-Man Roster

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    If there's one thing Chip Kelly will do in his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles, it is to change things up. He'll run a new offense, possibly with a new quarterback, and he'll implement a completely new system on defense.

    He'll also be in the process of adding some 15 to 20 new players to the 53-man roster. He's already finished his first NFL draft and added a bunch of players through free agency. Training camp will allow several more players to seize their opportunity to wear green during the 2013 season.

    The following slides will highlight five players who have an outside chance of making the team. Players like Jason Avant, a potential trade candidate, won't be considered.

    This is for the players who are under the radar. Expect just one or two of these guys to find their way onto the team. 

Russell Shepard, Wide Receiver

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    Although he went undrafted in 2013, Russell Shepard would be a perfect match for Chip Kelly's new offense. He's extremely versatile, as he was a standout high school quarterback before switching to wide receiver in college. 

    He possesses tremendous speed and could be used as a running back/wide receiver combination like Percy Harvin or Reggie Bush

    The problem for Shepard is that the Eagles are loaded at receiver. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are the top three receivers. Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas and Arrelious Benn are also fighting for roster spots. 

Arrelious Benn, Wide Receiver

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    Count Arrelious Benn as one of a number of wide receivers who will be fighting for the fourth spot at receiver behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant.

    Damaris Johnson has to be considered the favorite to become the fourth receiver, especially after he has drawn lots of offseason praise, which included projections of a big sophomore season for the undrafted second-year receiver.

    Benn, a former early second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has caught just 59 passes for 862 yards and five scores in three seasons in the National Football League. His physicality makes him a prime red-zone candidate for the 2013 Eagles, if he can make the team.  

David Sims, Safety

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    David Sims played in 15 games as a backup on the 2012 Eagles but the 26-year-old faces an uphill battle to make the 2013 roster.

    Free-agent signings Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung are the likely starters in 2013. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, last year's starters, are both ahead of Sims on the depth chart. So is Colt Anderson, the best special teams player on the squad.

    That makes Sims the sixth safety, at best. Even if Kelly keeps five, Sims wouldn't make the roster. He'll need a strong preseason and perhaps a couple of injuries to make the team. 

Everette Brown, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

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    Former second-round pick Everette Brown hasn't played a down in the NFL in two years. He played in 28 games with the Carolina Panthers in 2009 and 2010 but appeared in just three games in 2011. 

    He signed with the Eagles in the offseason and has a chance to make the team as either a defensive end or an outside linebacker. But he'll be competing for a roster spot with veterans like Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Chris McCoy and Phillip Hunt—all of whom were in the NFL in 2012, giving them a sizable advantage over Brown who missed the entire season.

Trevard Lindley, Cornerback

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    A fourth-round draft pick out of Kentucky in 2010, Trevard Lindley has already been released by the Eagles multiple times over the past three seasons. 

    Cornerback was one of the weakest positions on the team in 2012, but the Eagles have a relatively crowded depth chart heading into the preseason.

    Free-agent signings Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are the likely starters. Brandon Boykin was the nickel corner last season and seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer was considered by some to be the steal of the draft

    It could come down to Lindley vs. Curtis Marsh vs. Brandon Hughes for the final spot at cornerback.