With free agency and the NFL draft finally complete, the Philadelphia Eagles have their roster complete. Eighty-nine players are currently on the team's roster, 53 of which will be named to the active roster at the start of the 2014 season.
You could make the argument that about 35 players have a guaranteed roster spot, while an additional 54 players are fighting for about 18 spots. That means about one out of three players will eventually be cut from the team. The best-case scenario for those players will be to latch onto another team or earn a spot on the practice squad. But for many of the players, the dream ends in training camp.
Here is my way-too-early prediction for the 53-man roster for the 2014 Eagles. These predictions are based off the current players on the roster. For example, I think the Eagles may trade a player like Brandon Graham or add a veteran at backup running back, but for now, I'm just going with the 89 players on the team.
The 2014 season will tell whether Nick Foles can make the next step to turning into a franchise quarterback. Veteran Mark Sanchez will battle it out with last year's rookie Matt Barkley for the backup spot at quarterback. Right now, Sanchez would likely earn the No. 2 spot, but I think an impressive summer by Barkley will vault him into the backup role. He has an advantage because he was drafted by Chip Kelly.
Running Backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk, Henry Josey
The entire offense revolves around LeSean McCoy, the reigning rushing champion and arguably the best all-around back in the National Football League. Veteran Darren Sproles will probably be listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, though he's likely to catch just as many passes as he carries.
The trade of Bryce Brown to the Buffalo Bills opens the door for Chris Polk to emerge as the second or third running back, depending on what you call Sproles. I'm going to go with undrafted rookie Henry Josey as the fourth running back over Matthew Tucker.
Following the draft, wide receiver is now a position of strength for the Eagles. Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews make a terrific trio of receivers, while rookie Josh Huff is a solid option as the fourth receiver (and backup slot receiver). The battle for the fifth spot could be the most interesting in all of training camp, as anyone from Jeff Maehl to Damaris Johnson to Brad Smith could earn the final spot. In the end, I'm going to go with undrafted rookie Quron Pratt, who also has return ability.
Tight Ends (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, James Casey, Trey Burton
Last year's rookie Zach Ertz is due for a breakout season, while veteran Brent Celek may be entering his final season on the team. James Casey barely played in 2013, but he's still going to make the team in 2014, likely as the third tight end. If Chip Kelly keeps a fourth tight end—and I think he will—undrafted free agent Trey Burton is my pick to beat out the versatile Blake Annen for the final spot.
Offensive Line (8): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, David Molk
The five starters are as the same for the second straight year: Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans and Johnson. Allen Barbre is the only backup guaranteed to make the team, as he has the ability to play both tackle and guard. He was the top backup on the line last season. Andrew Gardner can also play tackle and guard, giving him an advantage over a veteran like Dennis Kelly. David Molk will compete with Julian Vandervelde, a 2011 draft pick by the Eagles, for the backup spot at center.
Defensive Line (7): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Joe Kruger, Taylor Hart, Beau Allen
Fletcher Cox, the team's first-round pick in 2012, is due for a breakout season. Last year's rookie Bennie Logan is slated as the nose tackle again, while 2013 breakout candidate Cedric Thornton will be a starter for the second straight season. Although the new regime hasn't played him very much, former second-round pick Vinny Curry is probably the top backup at defensive end. 2013 seventh-round pick Joe Kruger missed his rookie year with an injury, but he's a sleeper to earn some playing time this year. Taylor Hart and Beau Allen, both rookies, should make the team. Hart is a guarantee; Allen is a strong possibility.
Linebackers (9): Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Trent Cole, Marcus Smith, Brandon Graham, Najee Goode, Jason Phillips, Bryan Braman
Six linebackers are guaranteed to make the roster: Barwin, Kendricks, Ryans, Cole, Smith and Graham. The four starters are the same, with first-round pick Marcus Smith likely to earn some snaps from Cole as the season progresses. If he doesn't get traded, Graham is the second linebacker off the bench. Najee Goode is the top option off the bench at inside linebacker, while Jason Phillips and Bryan Braman were signed for their special team abilities.
Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Brandon Boykin, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins
Cornerback is one of the of the strongest positions on the team in terms of depth but one of the weakest in terms of the strength of the starters. Cary Williams should be the top corner again. Brandon Boykin should take a starting job away from Fletcher, moving the former second-round Rams pick to nickel corner. Free-agent signing Nolan Carroll is a solid fourth corner and rookie Jaylen Watkins can play anywhere in the defensive backfield.
Safeties (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Ed Reynolds, Chris Maragos
Malcolm Jenkins is the only safety guaranteed a starting spot. Re-signed in free agency, Nate Allen will compete with last year's rookie Earl Wolff for a starting spot. Rookie Ed Reynolds has an outside chance to start, but expect him to enter the year as the fourth safety. Chris Maragos was signed for his abilities as a special teamer.
Special Teams (3): Donnie Jones, Alex Henery, Jon Dorenbos
Donnie Jones just turned in probably the best season by a punter in franchise history. The big question mark is at kicker, where Alex Henery missed a crucial field goal in the postseason loss to the New Orleans Saints. He also struggled all season on kickoffs. But I think he beats out fan favorite Carey Spear, nicknamed Murderleg. And Dorenbos has no competition as the team's long snapper. In fact, he might have been the Comeback Player of the Year for the Eagles in 2013.