We all have a sixth sense.
Some have it for bargains, some have it for assembling items without instructions.
Me? Nothing that practical.
I have it for Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ curiously derided general manager.
I can sense it coming on draft day, when he lines up that extra fourth-round pick on the basis that it is the first round of Day 3 of the Draft.
And I can sense it at times like the present, when his wheels are spinning over the final roster. It’s fairly safe to assume that he will at least try to upgrade the roster for first-year head coach Doug Pederson and his staff by closely monitoring the final cuts of other teams or by offering a player the Eagles plan to put on the street for one in the same spot from another squad (the-two-nickels-for-a-dime trade).
That’s how he rolls.
Given this reality, we can lay out a probable 53-man roster based on what the Eagles can currently control – their own personnel.
As it stands now, and in the wake of some bold cuts to get to 75, it looks like the King Solomon split of 25 players on each side of the ball – plus three specialists – will hold true to form.
So pencil it in, folks. Your 2016 Philadelphia Eagles will look something like the following:
(starters in bold, rookies in italics)
Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz
Notes: Wentz only had one preseason outing due to a rib injury. Bradford seems to have a good feel for the offense, and Daniel looks OK as a viable backup.
Running Back (4): Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood
Notes: Smallwood had a hard time staying healthy in the preseason and may not begin the season active on game days, but he could work his way into the offense following the bye week (after three games).
Wide Receiver (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner
Notes: Looked like a quandary for a bit, but the situation was cleared up when both Chris Givens and Rueben Randle were cut. Turner, an unheralded undrafted rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech, earned his spot fair and square.
Tight End (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale
Notes: No telling how the Eagles will start each game – two tight ends, with a fullback (Pantale) or three wide receivers (Huff) – but rest assured that four tight ends are being kept, and will suit up on Sundays to fill a void on midsized bodies on special teams.
Tackle (3): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Guard (4): Stefen Wisniewski, Brandon Brooks, Matt Tobin, Isaac Seumalo
Center (2): Jason Kelce, Barrett Jones
Notes: Lane Johnson will miss 10 games and likely begins the season on the suspended list. Don’t expect much when he comes back anyway, especially if the unit is upright and clicking. Wisniewski seems the clear choice at left guard, with Barbre moving to right tackle to replace Johnson. That opened the door for Barrett Jones, who is versatile enough to play guard and even tackle in a pinch, to edge out Josh Andrews and undrafted rookie Darrell Greene, who is strictly a guard. While only nine are being kept, Tobin can play guard or tackle, as can Seumalo. Vaitai is raw, but it is too risky to cut the fifth-round pick and try to sneak him back onto the practice squad.
Defensive End (6): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Steven Means, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith
Defensive Tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao
Notes: Seems like a lot of defensive ends, but Braman is mostly a special-teams guy. Both he and Smith, who showed enough of a pulse for another go-round, can fill in at linebacker – as can Barwin – to make up for the lack of manpower there (see below). Cox is picking up where he left off last season and looks like a beast in this system, which opens up opportunity for Logan and the ends to live in the backfield. Curry will rotate with Barwin and Graham outside and can also slide inside on passing downs, meaning he will likely be second only to Cox in snaps. As a nose tackle in a 3-4 and an undrafted rookie, respectively, Allen and Vaeao bucked the odds by outplaying the likes of Taylor Hart (although the former fifth-round pick could stick ahead of Smith, or possibly be swapped in a minor deal).
Linebacker (5): Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Stephen Tulloch, Najee Goode
Notes: Keeping any undrafted rookie active would be a reach, although two or three could land on the practice squad (see below projection).
Cornerback (5): Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Eric Rowe, Jalen Mills
Safety (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins, Ed Reynolds
Notes: The plus side of only keeping five linebackers, at least until maybe the bye week, is that the Eagles could go heavy here to make up for the special teams void of not having linebackers for kick coverage. The toughest cut was rookie free agent C.J. Smith, Wentz’s teammate at North Dakota State, but he should clear waivers and land on the practice squad. The same can be said for Aaron Grymes, who was having a good camp before injuring his shoulder. Reynolds gets the nod as the fifth safety, largely on experience, but he could be the first to go if Roseman finds a linebacker elsewhere.
Kicker: Caleb Sturgis
Punter: Donnie Jones
Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos
Notes: Sturgis out-booted Cody Parkey for the placekicker job. Sproles will field punts. Look for some combination of Huff, Barner and Smallwood on kickoffs.
Offense (4): Byron Marshall (RB/WR), Dillon Gordon (OL), Darrell Greene (OG), David Watford (WR)
Defense (4): Aziz Shittu (DL), Don Cherry (LB), Aaron Grymes (CB), C.J. Smith (CB)
Notes: I know, I know. That’s only eight and 10 are allowed (and guys like WR Cayleb Jones, DB Blake Countess and LBs like Myke Tavarres and/or Quentin Gause are other candidates). But, if only for the sake of doing it, Roseman will likely add two players cut from other teams. I can sense it. For better or worse, that’s how he rolls.