Maybe there are some butterflies in their stomachs right now, but in a few weeks these real-life underdogs will have the chance to impress Eagles coaches enough to promote them to the 53-man roster.
First up, the undrafted rookies… according to Andrew Kulp of the 700 Level, these kids have the best chance to make the leap:
RB Josh Adams
“There’s already plenty of buzz over the 6-foot-2, 213-pound running back out of Notre Dame, and with good reason. After rushing for 3,198 yards with a 6.6 average and 20 touchdowns in three seasons for the Fighting Irish, most experts thought Adams’ name would be called at some point during the draft.
“There were rumblings Adams has a foot injury that could eventually require surgery, which also may have contributed to a dismal close to his college career. He was a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy through eight games last year with 1,169 yards and nine touchdowns, but managed just 261 yards and failed to find the end zone in his final five contests.
“Injury or not, Adams ran well at Notre Dame’s pro day, timing 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That would be a strong time for any back, let alone somebody his size. The 21-year-old has a good head on his shoulders, too.
“Between Matt Jones, Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood, there’s no shortage of competition for a potential fourth running back spot on the Eagles’ 53-man roster. With his combination of size, speed and intangibles, Adams may have more upside than all of them.”
DT Bruce Hector
“How serious was the Eagles’ interest in Hector after the draft? Based on reports, his $60,000 in guarantees were the highest of any of the 15 free agents who signed with the club.
“Hector was very productive at South Florida, racking up 28.0 tackles for loss and 18.0 sacks over three seasons – impressive numbers for an interior lineman. The 6-2, 296-pound defensive tackle reached peak levels of disruptiveness under head coach Charlie Strong, finishing with 13.0 TFLs and 7.0 sacks as a senior.
“His ability aside, Hector’s chances of making the squad improved immensely once word got out about Tim Jernigan’s injury. Suddenly the Eagles look a little thinner up the middle. Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls are still in the mix for backup tackle spots, but the duo only carved out about 15 percent of the defensive snaps between them last season, so they’re vulnerable.”
DE Joe Ostman
“The Eagles are rather deep at defensive end, so it might be difficult to envision an undrafted rookie earning the roster at this spot. Yet, if Ostman can make himself indispensable on special teams, he may have a shot.
“That’s exactly what Ostman did at Central Michigan, where he was the only player in the program to see the field as a true freshman in 2013. By the end of his Chippewas career, he had become one of the most disruptive pass rushers in college football, his 20.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks both good for top-five in the nation in 2017.
“One thing is for certain, Ostman will not get outworked. Measuring 6-3, 255 pounds, the kid is a beast, timing 4.75 seconds in the 40 and lifting 31 times in the bench press at his pro day. He isn’t likely to crack the rotation at end, but it’s not unfathomable he could carve out some kind of niche.”
CB Chandon Sullivan
“Again, an undrafted rookie is staring at an uphill battle to make the roster at a position loaded with talent. But while the deck may appear stacked against Sullivan, it turns out he knows people. Trent Miles, previously Sullivan’s head coach at Georgia State, is currently an offensive assistant for the Eagles.
“That won’t help Sullivan climb the depth chart, but the Eagles surely had plenty of insight on a young man who was a finalist for the academic Heisman, formally the William V. Campbell Trophy. The club liked what it heard enough to offer a whopping $51,000 in guarantees, already with a glut of talent at cornerback.
“Sullivan was a four-year starter in college, finishing his career with seven interceptions and 25 pass breakups. He possesses decent size at 5-11, 194 pounds, though only average speed, timing 4.6 seconds in the 40, but clearly the 21-year-old is sharp.
“Obviously, Sullivan’s chances would improve greatly in the event of a trade or injury. Regardless, he’s clearly a prospect the Eagles valued.”
S Jeremy Reaves
“The Eagles signed a grand total of four rookie safeties after the draft, so there’s no question the club is taking a hard look at that situation. Of the four, Reaves was the name that stood out, especially upon learning he pulled $30,000 in guarantees to sign.
“Reaves was the focal point of the defense at South Alabama, earning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017 with 104 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, eight pass breakups and three interceptions. He did it all, even playing cornerback and nickel cornerback during his college career, demonstrating tremendous versatility.
“At 5-11, 190 pounds, Reaves is slightly undersized for an NFL safety, with only average speed as well, timing 4.66 seconds in the 40 at his pro day. Then again, none of that seems to have mattered so far, given his reputation for being a big hitter.
“There’s definitely room for another safety on the Eagles’ roster. The only players who return from last season are special teams ace Chris Maragos and Tre Sullivan, who was on the practice squad.”
Then there are the 2nd-year and 3rd-year roster guys already on the bubble, who will be fighting to continue their careers, one way or another, whether with the Eagles or with another team.
Jeff Kerr of 247Sports has highlighted the following:
Bryce Treggs (WR)
Treggs was signed from the Eagles practice squad by Cleveland last season and recorded five receptions for 79 yards in six games with the Browns. In 2016 with the Eagles, Treggs had three catches for 80 yards…but led the team in catches and yards in the 2017 preseason. He returned to the Eagles practice squad in December and signed a two-year deal in February.
Treggs has an advantage over the younger receivers (Shelton Gibson and Greg Ward) because of his NFL experience. Treggs showed the Eagles how effective he can be out of the slot and gained separation on the outside during the preseason. If Treggs has a repeat of the 2017 preseason, it will be hard for the Eagles to keep him off the roster.
Shelton Gibson (WR)
Gibson was another player that the Eagles kept on the 53-man roster all season, so other teams couldn’t claim him off waivers. The 2017 fifth-round pick had drop problems in training camp, along with poor route-running ability…but improved as he got more comfortable to life in the NFL.
Gibson played just five games and had 17 offensive snaps, finishing with two catches for 11 yards. The Eagles like his ability to track down the deep ball an want him to compete for an expanded role in 2018.
The Eagles signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, which put a hitch in Gibson’s guarantee in making the roster. Gibson will have to beat out Bryce Treggs, Greg Ward, and Marquess Wilson, among others, to make the 53-man roster.
Donnel Pumphrey (RB)
Pumphrey almost was cut from the Eagles after a terrible preseason, but the Eagles stashed him on injured reserve with a hamstring injury after preserving a spot on the 53-man roster for him.
Struggling throughout most of camp and the preseason, Pumphrey had just 26 carries for 49 yards, averaging 1.9 yards per carry. He was surpassed on the depth chart by Corey Clement.
The Eagles running back picture is a bit murky after Clement and Jay Ajayi with Pumphrey, Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood battling for roster spots.
Destiny Vaeao (DT)
Vaeao seemed to fall out of favor with the Eagles last season, despite being a valuable reserve defensive tackle. He played 11 games and had just 10 tackles, but had his snap count percentage drop from 26.30 in his rookie year to 22.48 in 2017.
The Eagles added more depth at defensive tackle, signing Haloti Ngata in free agency to replace Beau Allen as the rotational defensive end. Vaeao will have to compete with Elijah Qualls, Aziz Shittu, and Winston Craig for a roster spot.
Chance Warmack (LG)
Warmack has one year left on his contract, but the Eagles could easily move on from the veteran guard. The Eagles like versatile offensive linemen on the interior that can play multiple positions, but Warmack can only play guard.
Warmack was ahead of Isaac Seumalo on the depth chart at guard last year, but Seumalo can play guard, center, and tackle, which possibly makes him more valuable to the Eagles, who may choose to move on from Warmack and his $2 million cap hit, saving $1.15 million in cap space.
And as Kerr adds, another player to watch is guard/tackle Darrell Greene. The Eagles like Greene’s progress, which could lead to a spot on the 53-man roster for 2018.