Philadelphia Eagles: Projecting the 2011 Two-Deep, Pre-Draft
With the 2011 NFL Draft still a week away, everyone from the fan base to the front office is focused on what new faces will appear on the Philadelphia Eagles roster next season. Despite the absence of free agency, the Eagles have already made a few personnel decisions, such as claiming waiver players like linebacker Rashad Jeanty and defensive end Phillip Hunt.
However, it's always wise to assess what you already have before making a decision about what you need. With that idea in mind, if the season were to start tomorrow, what current Eagles would take the field? Let's take a look.
Starter: Michael Vick
After a year in which he nearly garnered MVP honors, Vick will unquestionably be back for his first full season as the Eagles' starting quarterback.
Backup: Mike Kafka
With Kevin Kolb being dangled as trade bait, Kafka will have to assume the duty of backing up Michael Vick in this scenario. The second-year player has shown flashes that he has what it takes, but will still need additional experience if he wants to solidify himself as the number two quarterback in Philadelphia. However, Kafka has reportedly shown enough promise to warrant trade offers, which, if true, speaks volumes about his potential.
Starter: LeSean McCoy
After the Eagles picked him up in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, McCoy ensured that their investment paid off in a big way. After a career year in 2010, in which he rushed for 1,080 yards and seven touchdowns, McCoy has solidified his position as the Eagles' starting halfback.
Backup: Eldra Buckley
Since the Eagles declined to work out a new contract with current backup Jerome Harrison, he will likely seek the opportunity to start for another team when the new CBA is eventually implemented. Meanwhile, the Eagles are left with only one other running back on their roster: Buckley. Although primarily a special teams player, Buckley has seen a few snaps at halfback and fullback during his two seasons with the team, but failed to impress in any capacity. He wins the backup job by default.
Starter: Owen Schmitt
Although Leonard Weaver turned in one of the most exciting performances by an Eagles fullback in 2009, his horrific knee injury in the 2010 season opener all but ensures that he will not return for a third year.
Signed off of the street midway through the season, ex-Seahawk Owen Schmitt filled in more than adequately, earning a slot as a Pro Bowl alternate. He will return for a second season.
Starters: Jeremy Maclin & DeSean Jackson
Two high draft picks by Andy Reid netted two of the top wide receivers in the NFL in Jackson and Maclin. 2011 promises another exciting performance from the talented duo, so don't expect the lineup to change.
Backup: Jason Avant
With one of the most reliable pair of hands in the league, Jason Avant will return for another season as the Eagles' slot receiver. However, expect "Mr. Third Down" to be challenged for playing time by rising star Riley Cooper.
Starter: Brent Celek
Although his 2010 stats can't compare to his stellar 2009 performance, Brent Celek will be able to return to his pass-catching duties in 2011 with an upgrade to the offensive line.
Backup: Clay Harbor
Harbor had an up-and-down rookie season, spending seven games on the inactive list and contributing only nine receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. With his main competitor Garrett Mills long gone, Harbor wins the backup tight end position by default.
Starters: Jason Peters & Winston Justice
After making his fourth Pro Bowl in four seasons, Peters, once dubbed "the best left tackle in football" by Andy Reid, will return to the lineup in 2011 as the Eagles' starter on the left side.
As for Winston Justice, his performance at right tackle towards the end of the 2010 season left much to be desired. However, with the chance to develop under new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Justice has a chance to turn his career around once again and solidify his starting job.
Backup: King Dunlap
Dunlap has shown potential after getting scooped up by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft. However, his massive 6'9" size makes it difficult for him to gain leverage when going up against defenders, so he will have to perfect his technique before he sees extended playing time.
Starters: Todd Herremans & Mike McGlynn
In addition to being one of the most stable pieces of the Eagles' offensive line, Herremans presents a dual threat at the goal line as a tackle eligible. He will be back in 2011 for a seventh season in Philadelphia.
Although he filled in solidly as a replacement for Jamaal Jackson at center, Mike McGlynn is better suited for the offensive guard position. With Nick Cole all but gone and Max Jean-Gilles coming off an unimpressive season, McGlynn could easily step into the starting right guard slot to give the offensive line an upgrade.
Backup: Max Jean-Gilles
Although good as an emergency starter, Jean-Gilles has shown that he cannot be counted on for extended periods of time. If Nick Cole leaves, he will be the Eagles' number one backup at both guard positions.
Starter: Jamaal Jackson
Even though he will be returning from his second season-ending injury in two years, the Eagles will give Jackson one last chance at a starting job in this scenario. With seven years of NFL experience under his belt, Jackson is the most qualified and experienced man on the team for the center position. If he can regain his pre-ACL tear 2009 form, Jackson would be able to return the Eagles' offensive line to a respectable status.
Backups: Mike McGlynn & A.Q. Shipley
Although McGlynn is already starting at right guard in this scenario, he would be the one to slide over to center if Jackson suffered another injury. As insurance, the Eagles will also keep former practice squad member A.Q. Shipley on the roster.
Starters: Trent Cole & Juqua Parker
After posting double-digit sacks and narrowly missing the Pro Bowl, Trent Cole will be back as the Eagles' superstar defensive end on the right side.
Since second-year player Brandon Graham is still recovering from an ACL tear suffered late in the 2010 season, he will once again spend some extended time on the bench. 10-year veteran Juqua Parker will once again start for the Eagles, sharing time with players like Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt and Daniel Te'o Nesheim.
Backup: Darryl Tapp
Despite seeing limited time behind the likes of Parker and Graham, Tapp managed to provide good pressure on opposing quarterbacks and contribute three sacks. With Graham out for an extended period of time, he'll have his chance to increase his stats in 2011.
Starters: Mike Patterson & Antonio Dixon
Mike Patterson will be back for a seventh season with the Eagles, contributing his durability and valuable run support skills to Jim Washburn's defensive line.
Antonio Dixon all but guaranteed himself a starting position in 2011 with an excellent performance this past season. After going undrafted in 2009, Dixon has used his size and explosiveness to climb the depth chart and usurp Broderick Bunkley's role.
Backup: Brodrick Bunkley
Bunkley's contract will cost the Eagles nearly $2 million in cap space this year, and with his status relegated to backup, he may become trade bait or even a candidate for the unemployment line. However, Bunkley still possesses a great deal of potential, and a year under Jim Washburn may just be the key needed to unlock it.
Starters: Stewart Bradley & Moise Fokou
After returning from a season-ending ACL tear in 2009, Bradley showed that he had lost a lot of the explosiveness that had rocketed him to the starting middle linebacker position. In an effort to make the best use of his size, the Eagles will move him outside to the SAM position, where he can be an asset in run support.
Since he wrested the starting SAM position from Akeem Jordan, Moise Fokou has demonstrated the aggressive tackling skills that Eagles fans crave. As the best option left for the WILL position, Fokou will supplant Ernie Sims, who will be leaving the team after a disappointing 2010 campaign.
Backup: Rashad Jeanty
Claimed off of waivers earlier this offseason, Jeanty will contribute his special teams expertise and veteran experience to the linebacker corps. He may even push for a starting position, but more than likely will join Keenan Clayton on the second string.
Starter: Jamar Chaney
Very few people expected Chaney, a seventh-round pick in 2010, to step in an have an immediate impact on the middle linebacker position. However, he managed to do exactly that after taking over for Stewart Bradley during week 14. Chaney will get another shot at a permanent starting position in 2011.
Backup: Stewart Bradley
With Omar Gaither on the chopping block, the Eagles have little in the way of depth at middle linebacker. If Chaney were to go down in this particular scenario, Stewart Bradley would be the primary candidate to resume his role in the middle, while Rashad Jeanty filled in at SAM.
Starters: Asante Samuel & Trevard Lindley
One of the top cornerbacks in the game, Samuel continued to impress with his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl selection this year. He will be back and shutting down the left side of the field in 2011.
With Ellis Hobbs likely to retire due to neck problems and Dimitri Patterson better suited as a special teams player, second-year man Trevard Lindley will be given the opportunity to defend the right side of the field. Lindley showed potential in his brief field time last season, totaling 23 tackles and intercepting a crucial Alex Smith pass to seal up the Eagles' victory over the 49ers in week five.
Backup: Joselio Hanson
Hanson has and likely always will be best suited to the nickel back position. At only 5'9", he doesn't have the size to cover large receivers and can't keep up with speedy receivers down the sideline. His massive $2.2 million cap value in 2011 will prevent any trades, so the Eagles will likely bring him back for another season as the number three back.
Starter: Nate Allen
Recovering from a ruptured patellar tendon, Allen will likely miss the first few weeks of the 2011 season, but will be chomping at the bit to resume his starting free safety role when he returns.
Backup: Jamar Adams
After the Eagles elevated him from the practice squad during the final game of the regular season, Adams showed potential during his first and only start against the Cowboys. With the Eagles lacking depth at safety, Adams will make the roster over fellow practice squad safety Jamar Wall.
Starter: Kurt Coleman
With Quintin Mikell's 2011 return to Philadelphia looking unlikely, Kurt Coleman will be the most worthy successor on the Eagles' roster. During his three starts in 2010, Coleman proved himself to be a playmaker, totaling 19 tackles and an interception.
Backup: Colt Anderson
A prolific special teams player, Anderson will once again take his superb tackling skills to the gunner position during punt returns. As he develops more as a player, he may start seeing additional snaps as a third safety.
Kicker: David Akers
Although some speculate that Akers will not return to Philadelphia after missing three field goals in the playoff loss to Green Bay, the Eagles' use of the transition tag says otherwise. Akers is simply too valuable of a player to let walk, and at 36, he still has plenty left in the tank.
Punter: Sav Rocca
Vastly improving over his sub-par 2009 season, Rocca showed more consistency with his punts in 2010. With no other punters on the roster, Rocca wins the job by default and will look to continue his upward trend in 2011.
Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos
As the Eagles' long snapper for the past five seasons, Dorenbos has been the perfect example of reliability on special teams. He will continue his duties next season, making a push for his second Pro Bowl appearance.