Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Eagles depth chart 2022: Nakobe Dean makes case for first team after strong preseason debut

Expectations are high for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the 2022 season, which shouldn’t be surprising after a stunning 9-8-1 season that led to a playoff appearance in a rebuilding year. General manager Howie Roseman capitalized on last season’s success, trading for star receiver A.J. Brown as the highlight move of a strong offseason. 

The Eagles also signed edge rusher Haason Reddick, cornerback James Bradberry, linebackers Kyzir White, safety Jaquiski Tartt, and wide receiver Zach Pascal in free agency. They traded up to select Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis in the first round, then selected his Bulldogs teammate — linebacker Nakobe Dean — after he fell to the third round. Sandwiched between Davis and Dean was Nebraska center Cam Jurgens, who was selected in the second round and is the heir apparent to Jason Kelce. 

Philadelphia has a talented roster heading into Jalen Hurts‘ second year as the full time starting quarterback, making this a “make-or-break” year as a potential contract extension is looming. Even though most of the starting lineup is set, there are still some first team battles and roster spots to be determined in the coming weeks. 

Here is the Eagles’ depth chart heading into Week 2 of the preseason, along with a breakdown where things stand with final roster cut downs less than three weeks away. 

Note: Asterisks denote rookies.

Offense

There’s not a lot of position battles amongst the starting lineup on offense, as the majority of the starting lineup will look the same in Week 1. Isaac Seumalo has the clear frontrunner for the right guard job, especially with Cam Jurgens moving over to center as Jason Kelce is out with an elbow injury (Kelce is expected to be back by Week 1). Philadelphia was cross training Jurgens at right guard and center early in training camp, but Jurgens was elevated to first-team center after the Kelce injury. 

The second team has some battles, as Quez Watkins is battling Zach Pascal for the No. 3 wide receiver job and Jalen Reagor is fighting for a roster spot. If the Eagles keep six wide receivers, Reagor should make the roster. Richard Rodgers and Jack Stoll are battling for the second tight end spot and are ahead of Grant Calcaterra after he suffered an injury in training camp. Noah Togiai has played his way into roster consideration.

Offensive line is set with the five starters, Jurgens, Dillard, Driscoll, and Opeta. The 10th offensive lineman spot (if the Eagles keep 10) will be between Kayode Awosika and Jack Anderson, although Awosika offers more versatility being able to play guard and tackle. Watching the second team offensive line will be one of the storylines in the final two preseason games. 

Defense

How defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will mix and match his personnel is one of the storylines this preseason, especially at linebacker. Nakobe Dean has been on the second team throughout camp, but is playing his way onto the first team after a strong preseason opener at the MIKE. T.J. Edwards is having a good camp, so the Eagles have a good problem here. At some point, Dean is going to start on this defense. 

Kyzir White has the WILL position on lock with Davion Taylor finding his way into the rotation. Reddick is listed as a SAM linebacker, yet is essentially an edge rusher that will drop back in coverage per the formation. Philadelphia will be running a 5-2 base defense to have Reddick on the edge. 

The defensive line is set on the first team, even if Reddick lines up on the edge for passing downs. If the Eagles go with four linemen on passing downs, Reddick could rotate with Graham there or Philadelphia can move Graham inside. Derek Barnett is expected to provide depth on the edge, while Tarron Jackson has an inside track toward a roster spot. 

Philadelphia is loaded on the defensive interior, as Jordan Davis could start Week 1 if needed. The Eagles will rotate Davis with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave to create a dangerous three-headed monster at the position. Milton Williams and Marlon Tuipulotu provide valuable depth on this roster. 

Cornerback is set with the top four players on the roster, particularly the three starters in Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox. Zech McPhearson has been solid in camp, while Tay Gowan emerged as the front runner for a roster spot over Kary Vincent and Josh Jobe

Safety is an enigma after Epps — who has earned a starting job in camp — and Harris. Tartt has been on the third team at times in camp, so he’s not a roster lock. The Eagles have issues at free safety, hence teh reason they traded J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for Ugo Amadi — who will get a good look over the next three weeks. Josiah Scott has moved to safety (even  though the Eagles list him as a slot corner since he can play both) and Andre Chachere has had a strong camp. The Eagles may seek to further improve this position after 53-man roster cutdowns. 

Special teams

No major changes on special teams, as Arryn Siposs had no competition for his job in camp. Siposs also holds, which plays a role in the Eagles not bringing in another punter. Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato have been roster locks for years.

The returner battle will be interesting as Reagor is fighting for a roster spot, and his meal ticket will be how he performs in the return game. Covey’s meal ticket toward making the roster is returning punts as well, yet sprained fingers have been a setback as he battles for a job. Huntley will get extra looks at kick returner. 

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