The Philadelphia Eagles will likely field a roster vastly different from the 2012 team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Chip Kelly has already signed six potential starters on defense in free agency, and even more could emerge as a result of the NFL draft.
The offense still has a big unknown at the quarterback position, with four-time Pro Bowler Michael Vick actually looking like he may not win the job. It’s rare to see Vick as a player on the bubble entering training camp, but he headlines this group of players.
The rest are mainly players very early in their careers still trying to establish themselves on a crowded depth chart.
Stay tuned to training camp and the team’s four preseason contests for a preview of which players can make the 53-man roster.
It may be a surprise to see the 33-year-old former Pro Bowler on the bubble to even make the roster, but such is the case.
Chip Kelly has made no attempt to isolate either Michael Vick or Nick Foles as his starting quarterback, saying Vick will have to earn the job if he wants it.
For Vick, this can only be viewed as a strong possibility that he may not make the 53-man roster.
Foles has reportedly looked impressive in OTAs, and rookie fourth-round draft pick Matt Barkley will undoubtedly push for time. Watch for Vick to be a late August decision.
The people’s choice as camp favorite faces an uphill battle.
Ifeanyi Momah is a 6’8” target, but he’s coming off ACL surgery and a year of inactivity after being denied a sixth year at Boston College. Momah faces intense competition in training camp, and he will need an injury or surprise release of a player like Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson or Riley Cooper to have a shot.
Momah’s size is intriguing, but if the 6’4” Cooper makes the roster, it doesn’t make much sense to keep another big receiver like Momah.
The former LSU jack-of-all-trades is fighting for one of the last spots on Chip Kelly’s 53-man roster.
Shepard was a standout high school player who played a variety of positions at LSU, although his numbers weren’t eye-popping. His direct competition comes in Damaris Johnson, a similarly undersized slot receiver who can seemingly line up at multiple spots, as well as return punts and kicks.
If Shepard wants to make the roster, he will have to outperform Johnson in camp and preseason contests. Winning one of the return jobs would cement his status. This is a possibility considering the Philadelphia Eagles will be running through a cycle of potential return men in camp.
Pick your backup offensive lineman to be on the bubble, but Julian Vandervelde gets the nod because such has been his brief three-year NFL career thus far.
Vandervelde was initially drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, then he played a year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has since rejoined the Eagles. He offers depth and that’s it on the line; he has no starting experience at all.
Danny Watkins will compete for the top backup spot as a guard behind Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. If Watkins is a surprise release, it drastically increases Vandervelde’s chance to make the roster.
The other candidates are players like Allen Barbre (who may make the roster anyway as a backup tackle due to his combination of experience and versatility) and fringe linemen like Nate Menkin and Matt Kopa.
The competition for the 3-4 defensive end spots will be very interesting.
Barring an injury, last year’s first-round pick Fletcher Cox has the one 5-technique spot locked up. That leaves Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan, Clifton Geathers and Joe Kruger as the leading candidates for the other spot.
Thornton and Curry should be locks to make the roster. Logan may spend more time at nose tackle if Isaac Sopoaga struggles to regain the form that made him one of the more competent 0-tecnhique players back with the San Francisco 49ers.
Damion Square may very well be competing with Clifton Geathers and Joe Kruger for the final spot or two, although there’s a chance Dave King (the other seventh-rounder with Kruger) may be in the mix. Square will need to showcase his skills through training camp and preseason games, and a few impact plays could help his case.
The odds of an undrafted player making the roster are never high, but Square is fortunate enough to be competing for one of the weaker positional groups on the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s looking more and more like Curtis Marsh may join a long line of third-round busts under Andy Reid (others include Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Bryan Smith and Billy McMullen).
Marsh was overdrafted in 2011, when Reid thought he could take the former running back and nurture his cornerback skills enough to make him a force in the NFL. Marsh has made virtually no impact thus far in two seasons, and it’s not likely that role will change. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are replaced by Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, with Brandon Boykin assuming his nickel corner role again.
Seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer has to be seen as the team’s fourth corner as of now, considering many thought he could go as high as the second round. That pretty much puts Hughes against veterans Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley for a potential fifth corner spot.
It’s unlikely Chip Kelly keeps six corners, and there’s no guarantee he keeps four. Marsh will need a strong preseason to prove he’s deserving a spot.
Like Curtis Marsh, Kurt Coleman’s time in Philadelphia may be coming to a close.
Coleman was unfairly thrust into the starting role in 2012, a position for which he was just overmatched. He’s a fierce competitor who plays with a lot of heart, but that didn’t help him cover or tackle better.
Coleman’s starting spot was all but lost when the Eagles signed Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung in free agency (Chung is expected to play the strong safety spot). Nate Allen has the edge on Coleman given the glimpses he’s shown. And fifth-round pick Earl Wolff can’t possibly miss the team; he may be a dark-horse candidate to start.
Oh, and there’s special teams ace Colt Anderson, who can’t play a lick of safety but can dominate on punt and kick coverage.
That puts the odds against Coleman, who will need a surprising release of a player like Phillips to make the roster.
The punting competition won’t get the hype the quarterback duel will get. But Donnie Jones and Brad Wing will have the next six weeks to prove which is the better punter for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jones has proven NFL experience, having made two Second-Team All-Pro teams and averaged a ridiculous 50 yards per punt in a single season.
However, Wing is a tremendous punting prospect who left LSU early due to a repeated violation of team rules.
Jones is new to the Eagles, having just been signed this offseason, so he has no veteran tenure over Wing in Chip Kelly’s eyes. Either way, the Eagles should have one of the NFL’s better punters in 2013.