August 25, 2023   7 MIN READ

53 Pickup

DiCecco's 53-Man Birds Roster: 7 DTs, 3 LBs, 10 OL


The Eagles on Thursday wrapped up preseason play, and now turn their attention to whittling down the roster to 53 players in the coming days to meet Tuesday’s league-mandated 4 p.m. ET deadline. Thereafter, the focus will turn to the regular season, where the Eagles visit Foxboro on Sept. 10 to take on the New England Patriots.

Using weeks of practices and three games as references, I’ve compiled my final 53-man roster projection.

Howie Roseman Combine

Offense (24)

Quarterback (3): Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee

Mariota struggled to establish much of a rhythm as a passer throughout the summer, but the veteran signal-caller remains entrenched as the Eagles’ second in command behind Hurts. McKee, a rookie sixth-rounder, ran away with the No. 3 quarterback job early in camp and 2022 holdover Ian Book was never able to catch up.

Running back (4): D’Andre Swift, Kenny Gainwell, Rashaad Penny, Boston Scott

The four-headed backfield is constructed to pack a serious punch and keep defenses reeling, offering variance and optionality. Sermon had moments this summer where it felt he was equipped to put evaluators in a bind but wasn’t consistent enough to dethrone any of the proven commodities above him in the pecking order. He does have age, pedigree, and a palatable rookie contract working in his favor, increasingly the likelihood of being claimed off waivers, but if he clears, look for Sermon to resurface on the practice squad.

Wide receiver (4): A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus

Second-year receiver/punt returner Britain Covey missed valuable portion of camp with a hamstring injury, and I’m not sure he’s done enough to make the roster at face value as a specialty player. The thought process here is that the Eagles can get either Covey, and perhaps Devon Allen, onto the practice squad and elevate on gameday. I suspect the Eagles will scour the waiver wire for a more suitable fifth option.

Offensive line (10): Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Cam Jurgens, Lane Johnson, Tyler Steen, Jack Driscoll, Fred Johnson, Sua Opeta, Josh Andrews

The starting five are among the strongest in the league, but the depth this year is lacking. Steen, a 2023 third-round pick, provides depth at multiple positions, as does Driscoll. Johnson just signed to a two-year deal and gives the Eagles a veteran tackle to turn to, so he’s safe. I have Opeta and Andrews rounding out the unit to make a whopping ten — the same number of linemen to appear on the initial 2022 53-man roster. Andrews offers value as a backup center.

Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra

All things equal, I expect the team to show deference toward the draft pick in Calcaterra, a second-year player in which they’ve invested. Leaving Jackson off was a difficult decision, as the 25-year-old converted quarterback improved his game immensely each summer and carries a greater upside than Calcaterra. 

Defense (26)

Defensive end (3): Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett

Penalties aside, one would be hard-pressed to find a more productive rotational pass-rusher than Barnett. Barnett, 27, has appeared in 65 games (45 starts) and should provide serviceable returns in a more limited capacity.

“SAM” linebacker (3): Haason Reddick, Nolan Smith, Patrick Johnson

The Eagles hope to welcome back Reddick, who underwent thumb surgery earlier this month, to start the season. Smith figures to factor into the equation early in sub packages and on special teams. Johnson missed two of three preseason games and most of the summer with an ankle injury, but the third-year defender has been dependable for the team when called upon, appearing in 33 games (2 starts). Last season, Johnson logged 213 defensive snaps (21%) and accounted for 75% of the third phase snaps. Given the season-ending injuries to special teams stalwarts Shaun Bradley and Zech McPhearson, it behooves the Eagles to retain a productive, familiar face for continuity purposes.

Defensive tackle (7): Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Moro Ojomo, Kentavius Street

The Eagles have accumulated far too much talent at the position to short-change anyone. Tuipulotu strung together his best summer to date and will be the backup nose behind Davis. Street hangs on for experienced depth. The tough decision here is what to do with Ojomo, who flashed at times this summer before sustaining an injury against the Browns and sitting out the preseason finale. The 2023 seventh-round pick boasts intriguing measurables, herculean play-strength and appealing versatility, so sneaking him through waivers may be a risky proposition. Depending on his timetable, there’s also a chance Ojomo lands on injured reserve Tuesday after 4 p.m. ET — as to not lose him for the season — opening up a roster spot for say, another wide receiver or safety.

Linebacker (3): Nakobe Dean, Zach Cunningham, Christian Elliss

It wasn’t immediate, but Cunningham eventually leap-frogged Christian Elliss and the recently-retired Myles Jack in the pecking order to seize the starting spot opposite Dean. While pass coverage isn’t necessarily his calling card, Cunningham provides a veteran presence to an inexperienced second level. Elliss, one of the more pleasant surprises of the summer, will have a role as the third linebacker. Nicholas Morrow, who tumbled to fourth on the depth chart, wasn’t even on the first-team kickoff unit, which presumably doesn’t bode well for his chances. Rookie free agent Ben VanSumeren seems destined for the practice squad and could warrant gameday call-ups if the team needs a hand on special teams.

Cornerback (6): Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Josh Jobe, Kelee Ringo, Eli Ricks

Jobe emerged early and ran away with the top reserve outside corner spot. The 2022 rookie free agent’s rapid ascent proved to be among the more notable camp storylines. I’d expect Ringo to start the season on the inactive list as he acclimates to the pro level. The season-ending injury to McPhearson seemingly opened the door for second-year pro Mario Goodrich, who thrived this summer in his transition to the slot. But Goodrich’s recent groin injury clouds the picture a bit, so I’m leaving him off. He also happens to be the most realistic of the team’s host of developmental cornerback to clear waivers. Ricks enjoyed an uneven camp overall but made a strong case for a roster spot based on his preseason production, notably his first-half performance against the Colts’ starters. For those wondering, I asked Ricks after the game if he’d had any experience playing inside: “I did a little bit my freshman year at LSU when we had some injuries. But only for a few, select amount of games. But I have a little bit of experience; I could play it if needed.”

Safety (4): Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds, Sydney Brown, Justin Evans

The personnel at the position isn’t strong enough to justify keeping five, so it came down to Evans or fourth-year pro K’Von Wallace. The former came on strong within the past week, garnering consistent first-team work, while Wallace’s ascension seemed to peter out as camp advanced. He also played deep into the fourth quarter of the last two preseason games. I’m not sure the team needs five safeties with relatively redundant skill sets, so all things equal, I think Evans stays. If there was a position I envision a subsequent tweak — along with wide receiver — this would be it.

Specialists (3):

Jake Elliott (K), Arryn Siposs (P), Rick Lovato (LS)

The specialists remain status quo, though I envision the Eagles seeking an upgrade over Siposs.


– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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