2017 Practice Squad

Posted: September 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 108 Comments »

Meet your 2017 Eagles practice squad.

QB Nate Sudfeld
RB Byron Marshall
WR Bryce Treggs
WR Greg Ward
TE Billy Brown
OL Josh Andrews
OL Dillon Gordon
DT Justin Hamilton
LB Nate Gerry
CB C.J. Smith

You know 9 of the 10 players listed because they were on team already. Nate Sudfeld is the only outsider. He was recently cut by the Skins. Wait…you’re telling me an NFL team signed someone from their upcoming opponent? Shocking. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing.

The Eagles obviously like Sudfeld as a player, but the fact he comes from the opponent in the opener doesn’t hurt his value. You know the defensive coaches will be picking his brain over the Skins playbook, looking for any small nuggets that might help. And the offensive coaches will want scouting reports on the defenders he faced every day in practice. You never know when what seems like an innocent tip will help on a key situation.

As for Sudfeld the player, this was his second season out of Indiana. I was not high on him as a draft prospect. Some quick notes from the Shrine Game.

QB Nate Sudfeld was erratic, which is how he normally plays. There were some terrific throws he made. You see those, combined with his size and other physical traits, and you think he can be an NFL starter. Then you see him bouncing the ball to WRs to his right side multiple times and you think…what the hell was that? I’m not a big fan of his. Mike Mayock finds him intriguing, but the inconsistency bugs me.

Good size. Good arm. Erratic passer.

This summer he was 33-56-360 with no TDs and no INTs. The WAS offense was a mess overall and the numbers for him aren’t good.

As a rookie he was 28-53-238 with 3 TDs and no INTs.

He does have potential.

And a highlight from his IU days.

There aren’t a lot of good QBs on the market right now. The Eagles will get an up close look at Sudfeld and see what they think of him. They’ll likely look to draft a QB next year to develop as a backup behind Wentz. For now, they need someone for practice. Sudfeld can play the role of pocket passer for the defense as they prepare for upcoming games. Greg Ward can play QB in practice for any situations against scramblers.

Onto the rest of the squad.

Marshall could step in and play if needed. He’s also very versatile, which helps in practice.

Treggs should be on a roster. The Eagles are lucky to have him on the PS. That gives them great WR depth. Ward is here to develop for the future. He is a pure slot receiver, but is still raw as he makes the transition from QB. A year of practice will be invaluable to him.

Brown could have made the roster. The Eagles can now develop him for the future. He needs to learn the subtleties of playing TE and his blocking needs a lot of work. He will also need to embrace STs. Backup TEs are crucial to good STs units.

I’m surprised the Eagles only kept two OL. Andrews broke his hand this summer and didn’t play much. The coaches love him, which tells you he does everything he can behind the scenes. Smart. Hard-working. Reliable. Andrews could play if needed, but has a limited ceiling.

Gordon failed to build on the promise he showed last year. Essentially, he looked like the same guy. He still has potential, but he just didn’t play well enough to deserve a roster spot. It can take OL several years to develop so the Eagles are smart to be patient with him.

Hamilton had a terrific summer and should be on a roster somewhere. The Eagles had questions at DT in the spring and it is now one of the deepest areas on the team. Crazy.

Gerry will spend the next year continuing to learn how to play LB. He showed good potential this year, but just needs a lot of reps. Practicing and learning for the next 17 weeks is just what he needs. The talent is there.

Smith failed to win a roster spot as the CB group got more talented this summer. He could play if needed, but isn’t a guy you want on the field in a real game right now. Has a limited ceiling, but worth developing for one more season to see if he can win a job in the future.

Do remember this is written in pencil, not ink. There will be changes. A lot of changes.

The NFL season is a marathon.

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More on the Roster

Posted: September 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 112 Comments »

Howard Eskin asked Howie Roseman if the roster is the 53 best players. Eskin was trying to trap Roseman into a direct answer that I’m sure would have led to some follow-up questions. Anyone who watched the preseason knows Bryce Treggs outplayed Shelton Gibson. Byron Marshall outplayed Donnel Pumphrey. Roseman gave a good “safe” answer.

“I think it’s the 53 best players for the Philadelphia Eagles organization.”

Roseman didn’t try to sell the idea that Gibson and Pumphrey earned spots with their play this summer. He made the point that the Eagles felt strongly about those players after scouting them and were excited to draft them. Rather than giving up on the players after some struggles as rookies, the Eagles are going to keep the players and try to develop them.

I have no problem with the team doing this. You can’t keep too many players like this, but you can keep a couple of them.

As to Eskin’s point about keeping the best 53 players, that is a bogus argument to try and make. Think back a year ago. Matt Tobin was clearly a better player than Halapoulivaati Vaitai heading into the 2016 season. Vaitai practiced and studied in the classroom sessions. He eventually got on the field and struggled at first. The more he played, the better he got. By the end of the year Vaitai was clearly better than Tobin.

The point isn’t to assemble the best 53 players for the season opener. You’re trying to build a roster for that game, the whole 2017 season and the near future. You have to balance all of that as you see where players are now and where they can be in two months or in a year.

Some people see the Eagles keeping Pumphrey and Gibson as the team simply being too embarrassed to admit they made draft mistakes. Personnel guys are human beings and there is no doubt they don’t like to admit when they’re wrong. I just don’t think that’s a big factor. There are only 53 players on a roster. NFL roster spots are a precious commodity. You aren’t going to hurt the quality of your team simply to protect your ego.

You have to go back to Roseman’s point about all the time and effort the Eagles spent to research and grade these players for the draft. They didn’t randomly choose those guys. The team really believed in them and wanted them to be part of the Eagles future. You don’t throw that hope away based on some rookie struggles as long as the players are doing their part off the field.

You want the players to be working hard in the weight room and the classroom. You want them to have good rapport with their position coaches. You want them to be doing whatever extra work before/after practice they can. If the player acknowledges his issues and shows you he’s doing everything he can to get better, why wouldn’t you want to be patient?

There are times when a player doesn’t play well and makes that worse by also not doing the right things off the field. Those are the guys you move on from. The whole point in keeping players is that you believe they can improve and contribute to your team in the future.

The Eagles still believe in Gibson and Pumphrey. Time will tell if that is smart or not.

*****

The team went light at OL. Howie Roseman explained that this was unusual for the team based on what they’d done in the past, but they feel strongly about the eight players they did keep. He also said the team will balance out the numbers by keeping several O-linemen on the practice squad.

The Eagles had seven OL active on gamedays last year. There were the five starters, and Wiz and an OT (usually Tobin or Big V). That’s it. OL don’t do much on STs so you aren’t going to have many active.

Apparently more and more teams are going with eight OL on the roster. If this is a new trend, we’ll just have to adjust for that when making future roster predictions.

*****

Let’s talk about the practice squad. Here would be my guess.

OT Dillon Gordon
OC Aaron Neary
OG Darrell Greene
WR Bryce Treggs
WR Greg Ward
LB Nate Gerry
CB C. J. Smith
RB Byron Marshall

QB – ?
TE – ?

The Eagles must add a QB, if just to help in practice. They’ll be scouring the waiver wire.

As for Billy Brown, I don’t know what happened there. He showed more than enough on the field to make the roster. This could have been a numbers crunch or it is possible there is another factor. Was he doing everything he needed off the field? Were there missed assignments and mental errors in the games? If he ran the wrong route, it would be hard for most people to know that.

If the Eagles don’t bring him back (and he’s not claimed), that will tell you there was some issue we just don’t know about.

I could also see the Eagles adding a Safety. They might want to add a young player at that spot.

I don’t feel strongly about Marshall. I love the way he goes all out in the summer, but you do wonder about him in the regular season. What is his ceiling? Ideally I’d love the Eagles to find another RB for the roster, cut Clement and put him on the PS. Marshall is the kind of guy you want to cheer for, but the goal is to find the best players, not the hardest working guys and overachievers.

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Roster is Set

Posted: September 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 95 Comments »

The Eagles made their cuts and the roster is set. For now. There will be a lot of changes between now and February. Those changes could start as early as Sunday, if they made any waiver claims or have their eyes on any veterans that got cut. Let’s stick with what we know.

Here’s the roster:

QB -2 – Wentz, Foles

RB – 5 – Blount, Sproles, Smallwood, Clement, Pumphrey

WR – 6 – Jeffery, Smith, Agholor, Hollins, Johnson, Gibson

TE – 3 – Ertz, Celek, Burton

OL – 8 – Peters, Seumalo, Kelce, Brooks, Johnson, Vaitai, Wisniewski, Warmack

DE – 5 – Graham, Curry, Barnett, Long, Means

DT – 5 – Cox, Jernigan, Allen, Vaeao, Qualls

LB – 6 – Hicks, Bradham, Kendricks, Goode, Grugier-Hill, Walker

S – 5 – Jenkins, McLeod, Graham, Watkins, Maragos

CB – 5 – Darby, Mills, Robinson, Douglas, McDougle

ST – 3 – Jones, Sturgis, Lovato

*****

Let’s talk about some notable keepers.

Donnel Pumphrey – The Eagles really like him. They still value his long term potential and felt they saw enough in the spring to overlook a mediocre summer. He deserves a longer write-up.

Corey Clement – Good spring and summer. My only issue with him is that he’s not that good. He isn’t special in any way. I give him full credit for making the most of his chances this summer. I would keep looking around the league to see if there is a better RB available.

Shelton Gibson – Really struggled in the spring. Played better in the preseason. Seemed to get some of his confidence back. Big time playmaker at West Virginia and the Eagles clearly value his speed and ability as a deep threat. They are keeping him based on future potential.

Elijah Qualls – Won a job with his play the last 2 weeks. The light came on for him and he suddenly was disruptive. Rookies come alive at different times. There is no universal schedule. Qualls proved to be quick and disruptive, which is what the Eagles wanted when they drafted him.

Joe Walker – Glad he made it. Walker was good in the finale. Had some terrific moments when he blew up blockers and got in on tackles. Still learning how to play MLB in the NFL, but has a good combination of size and physicality. Athleticism is coming back as he continues to recover from last summer’s torn ACL. Could be a good long term answer for STs and backup MLB.

Kamu Grugier-Hill – Played his best game of the summer against the Jets. Still inconsistent against run plays, but had some good moments. Can impress you when he uses his hands and takes on blockers. There are times when he reverts to old ways and tries to run around blocks. Those are correctable mistakes. Really good athlete and plays well in space. Covers a lot of ground. Good tackler.

Jaylen Watkins – Had a good game vs the Jets. The Eagles love his S/CB/STs versatility. Looked okay at CB. Even tackled pretty well.

Dexter McDougle – Good game vs the Jets. Quick feet. Good tackler. Blitzed off the edge and deflected a pass. Confident and comfortable in the slot. Shows a good understanding of routes. Physical with receivers. Gets a quick break on the ball. Will push Patrick Robinson for playing time in the slot.

*****

Now let’s talk about surprise cuts.

Billy Brown – I thought the small school WR showed enough promise as a TE to earn a spot. He is still very much a project, but his combination of size, speed, and receiving ability is impressive. He is not ready to play this year so the Eagles are likely rolling the dice that no one will claim a project.

Nate Gerry – The 5th round pick was making the move from S to LB. He showed good potential, but got hurt and missed part of Game 3 and all of the finale. Didn’t have enough time to convince the Eagles he was ready to be part of the roster. He showed good athleticism. Size isn’t an issue. Just has to continue learning the subtleties of playing LB.

Bryce Treggs – Played well enough to make it. The Eagles just chose someone else.

Justin Hamilton – Not that surprising, but I wanted to make sure to acknowledge him. Hamilton had an outstanding preseason. Teams that need DL depth should be calling him ASAP.

Dillon Gordon – Last summer he made the transition from TE to OL and showed real promise. Gordon didn’t build on that. He was okay this summer, but you didn’t see the kind of progress you were hoping for. I think the Eagles will want him for the PS. Gordon did struggle at times and some people said “He sucks”. Gordon is still a project. He still is worth keeping around and trying to develop.

Dallas Thomas – I thought he outplayed Warmack this summer, but the Eagles prefer big, physical OGs. Thomas should get picked up by someone. Showed really good feet and athleticism.

*****

I’ll have more thoughts and some practice squad talk later.

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Early Saturday Update

Posted: September 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 84 Comments »

What we know so far.

Obviously the big fella made the roster. I think this is about next year as much as anything else. My bet is that they could see him taking over at LG and then moving Isaac Seumalo into C. That would give the Eagles a lot of size up front. Those would also be very physical blockers and that’s something Doug Pederson has talked about a lot. He loves nasty, tough OL who can physically dominate.

Warmack played pretty well this summer. He looked very good at times. I thought he really stood out at the goal line and helped the Eagles run well down there when he was in those situations. Warmack is a good run blocker.

He is not a good pass blocker. There are some good moments, but he is wildly inconsistent. He doesn’t use his hands well and gets grabby at times.

I don’t love this move, but Warmack is at least a player with a definitive strength. He’s not a complete project. There is something for the coaches to work with. He is an above average run blocker. If you can clean up his pass pro, you could have a solid player at a reasonable price.

*****

CUTS

Taylor Hart – Showed real potential as an OT, but not good enough to keep him on the roster.

Cameron Johnson – Surprised the Eagles held onto a second punter this long.

Josh Andrews – Couldn’t stay healthy this summer. Always a favorite of the coaches.

Dallas Thomas – Was an afterthought when he signed, but played well. Should get another chance from some team. Good athlete.

Aaron Neary – Big guy with some upside, but still a project.

*****

I’m watching cuts by other teams.

RB – Matt Jones – WAS let him go because of fumbling issues, but very talented.

LB – Sean Spence – Loved him coming out of college. Not sure if he could play 4-3 MLB.

LB – Audie Cole – Big guy who is a backup and STer. Limited athlete, but might offer depth at MLB.

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Final Roster Prediction

Posted: September 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 81 Comments »

Who will make the 53-man roster?

Here is my prediction.

OFFENSE – 25

QB – 2 – Carson Wentz, Nick Foles

RB – 5 – LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, Corey Clement

WR – 5 – Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson

TE – 4 – Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Billy Brown

OT – 4 – Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dillon Gordon

G/C – 5 – Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Brandon Brooks, Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack

DEFENSE – 25

DE – 5 – Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means

DT – 5 – Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls

LB – 6 – Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry

S – 4 – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos

CB – 5 – Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle

STs – 3

P – Donnie Jones

K – Caleb Sturgis

LS – Rick Lovato

Practice Squad

DE Alex McCalister
WR Bryce Treggs
WR Shelton Gibson
WR Greg Ward
OL Aaron Neary
OL Darrell Greene
LB Joe Walker
CB C.J. Smith

QB to be determined
S to be determined

*****

That isn’t my ideal scenario, but rather what I think the Eagles will do.

I would prefer they go with OG Dallas Thomas over Warmack, but Doug Pederson loves physical maulers and Jeff Stoutland is close with Warmack. My guess is they keep him. I prefer Thomas because of his footwork and athleticism. He’s vastly superior to Warmack in those areas. I would also be open to cutting both of them for the right player. The Vikings cut T.J. Clemmings, who I loved at Pitt. He struggled as an OT in Minneapolis. I’d be interested in him as an OG here. His tape isn’t pretty, but played tough position on poor OL. New spot and new scenery might do him a world of good.

I’m not a big fan of keeping Clement. Solid young RB, but not compelling in any way. He would be perfect for the PS. I would prefer to find a RB cut by some other team and add that player. I’m sure someone will be available that I like more than Clement.

Cutting Bryce Treggs would be hard for me. The Eagles can put Sproles in at WR. Ertz and Burton can play WR. That’s why I think they’ll go light at WR. I think Treggs has had a good summer and would hate to cut him, but there is a numbers crunch.

Justin Hamilton is another player I would hate to cut. He stood out in every preseason game. He is talented and fits the scheme. Hamilton hasn’t done anything in his NFL career, but he played his butt off this summer. Tough cut.

Walker is a guy that I’d love to see the team keep, but he’s still a project right now. The Eagles drafted him because of his athletic ability and he’s down a bit in that area while coming back from the ACL injury. He played pretty well against the Jets, but still isn’t all the way back. Nate Gerry has a hamstring injury right now. If that somehow got him on IR, I would keep Walker.

Speaking of which…I’m sure there are several guys the Eagles would love to put on IR. Pumphrey would be front and center. I just don’t know if they can do it with him. Usually one or two players has some nagging issue that requires surgery and they go to IR. Billy Brown would be another ideal target for this.

Misc note of the night…Taylor Hart played his best game vs the Jets. His footwork was pretty darn good. He has legit OT potential. I don’t think he’s good enough for the Eagles to keep him, but some team might take a chance. If he was younger, Hart would be a player I’d really want to keep.

*****

If the Eagles do look for outside help, I think it would be at backup MLB. I’m guessing Walker doesn’t make the team. I don’t think Goode fits inside. If the Eagles could find the right veteran, they might be willing to give him a shot. That could cost Goode his job if the team likes the young OLBs enough.

I do think RB is another spot where they should keep their eyes open.

Tre Sullivan flashed this summer, but the team may want someone who is less of a project as the S on the PS. Without watching All-22 tape, it was hard to get a feel for how well Sullivan covered.

The Eagles need a young QB to add to the mix. I’d move on from Dane Evans.

*****

Any crazy trades or shocking moves?

The Eagles could try to trade Curry. His contract isn’t good, but pass rushers are at a premium so you never know what a desperate coach or GM might do.

Nothing else stands out to me.

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