You knew this was going to be a rough game to watch when word came down that Nate Sudfeld would not be playing in tonight’s game, and instead the Eagles would treat fans to four quarters of Joe Callahan and Christian Hackenberg at the quarterback position.
Sudfeld’s absence tonight was interesting to me. My own speculation is that the Eagles are preparing to go with Nick Foles on Opening Night, and thus are planning on Sudfeld as the number 2 guy, and didn’t want to expose him to an injury risk after having seen enough of him through the first three games.
It’s honestly hard to believe that Hackenberg managed to fool scouts into making him a second-round pick. I know he’s only been with the team for a short time, but it isn’t hard to tell why the Jets never let him sniff the field in the regular season, or why the Oakland Raiders cut him within a week of him signing with the team.
Hackenburg started the game just 1 of 5 with two bad interceptions that set the Jets up with short fields. Is Hackenberg even worth a spot on the practice squad at this point? Maybe it’s not fair to him to judge him given his short time with the team, but I don’t see anything worth developing there. Literally the only thing Hackenberg has on his resume is that he was once a second-round pick.
If the Eagles are going to look for a developmental quarterback to stash, they’re probably better off looking for another Nate Sudfeld-type that another team that carries only two quarterbacks will discard.
Here’s my projection for the 53-man roster.
Quarterbacks (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
As good of a quarterback depth chart that you’re ever going to see. Either Callahan or Hackenberg could find their way to the practice squad.
Running Back (4): Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood
The battle for the fourth running back spot was one of the more uninspiring training camp battles that I can remember.
Matt Jones flashed a little against the Jets, but its too little too late, the veteran effectively destroyed his chance of making the roster with wretched performances in games two and three.
Josh Adams had some nice moments, but didn’t set himself apart in the way that Corey Clement did a year ago.
Smallwood wins the job because he was the most consistent and competent looking of the bunch, and he has three years in this offense.
Donnel Pumphrey actually looked good against the Jets, but I don’t know how the Eagles can justify a roster spot for him when he’s shown so little in two training camps. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to keep five running backs to hang on to Pumphrey one more year, keep in mind the Eagles actually did go into last season with five running backs (LeGarrette Blount, Sproles, Smallwood, Clement, Pumphrey) before sending Pumphrey to IR with a phantom injury after the season opener, but it’s going to be tough to do that this year with needs in other areas.
Wide Receiver (6): Alshon Jeffrey, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, DeAndre Carter
The top five are locks, and I think the team has to keep six with Jeffrey likely to miss at least a couple games to start the season.
Carter has been head and shoulders better than veterans like Marcus Wheaton or Kamar Aiken, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the team ultimately brings in a player not currently on the roster for the sixth receiver slot.
Tight End (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers
I’ve seen some speculation that the Eagles will keep a fourth tight end with Rodgers battling a knee injury, I don’t see it. None of the guys in camp looked good enough for the team to even think about keeping a fourth. The only way is if Rodgers can be placed on the PUP list to start the season, making it easier for the team to keep an extra body at the position.
Offensive Line (10): Jason Peters, Stefan Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor
I don’t think the Eagles planned on having Mailata on the active roster, but he’s been too good to let go. Sixth-rounder Matt Pryor has also played considerably well during preseason.
A lot of people have left Chance Warmack off of their 53-man projections, but I don’t think its impossible that he stays. His limitations as a guard are an issue, but cutting or trading Warmack would leave the Eagles without much of a veteran presence behind the starting five.
Seumalo may have the versatility to play any position on the line, but I’m not at all convinced that he plays any of the five spots particularly well. I’d feel more comfortable with Warmack as a primary interior insurance policy before Seumalo or the rookie Pryor.
Defensive Ends (6): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Steven Means, Josh Sweat
Some people wonder how Steven Means makes the team this year, but I don’t have any doubts that he’ll be here. The coaching staff loves him, and with Graham and Bennett likely to draw a lot of snaps at defensive tackle, I could actually see some playing time for Means during the regular season.
Defensive Tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Bruce Hector
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Eagles may keep only three defensive tackles to start the season. Again, with Bennett and Graham likely to draw a lot of work on the interior, that could allow the team to go lighter on the amount of tackles they carry, at least to start the season. I’m actually pretty surprised Howie Roseman hasn’t made a deal by now to sure-up the tackle depth. That move still may be coming.
Elijah Qualls and Bruce Hector just don’t do enough for me to stick on the roster.
Linebacker (5): Jordan Hicks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, LaRoy Reynolds, Joe Walker
This situation will change quickly once Nigel Bradham’s suspension expires after season-opener.
Cornerback (5): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox
No surprises here. DeVante Bausby was in the mix for a job, but stopped flashing after the Pittsburgh game.
Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McCleod, Corey Graham, Tre Sullivan
It wouldn’t surprise me if Sullivan is let go in favor of someone else not currently on the roster. Sullivan has the fourth safety job by default, but didn’t really stand out to me during August.
Specialists (3): Jake Elliot, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato
No surprises here