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As I watch Peyton Manning bore me to death with his insipid audible calls (and Reggie Wayne serve up a TD on a silver platter for the Saints), it's time to break down the Eagles' 53-man roster. The cuts have been made, a few additions too, and it looks like pretty much all of the position battles are settled. We'll go position-by-position and I'll give my thoughts on the position as a whole, and where it ranks as compared to last year's NFC East championship roster.

(This depth chart is taken directly from the official Eagles site)

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QB: Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley (yes, the site is lying), Kevin Kolb.
  • Obviously, a healthy McNabb makes all the difference here. To begin the year last year, you had to like the depth much better. Garcia proved to be an invaluable asset, but if #5 stays healthy, this year's depth chart is far superior.
  • Grade: A- (point deduction for the step-down from Garcia to Feeley/Kolb)
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade.
RB: Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Tony Hunt
  • Brian Westbrook is the best running back in the NFC. Buckhalter is back, and Hunt is a tremendous upgrade over Moats. This is an obvious strength for the Eagles.
  • Grade: A
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade.
FB: Thomas Tapeh, Nick Cole
  • No depth, and nothing spectacular out of Tapah. I love seeing Cole line up back there on goal-line situations. The guy has to weigh close to 400 lbs at this point.
  • Grade: C
  • Vs. Last Year: Status Quo.
TE: L.J. Smith, Matt Schobel, Brent Celek
  • Celek replaces Bartrum and gives the Eagles a decent receive option, should Smith go down to injury. Schobel is wholly unspectacular, but McNabb seems to find him wide open from time to time, he's a serviceable backup. Smith can be a game-changer, both catching the ball, and keeping safeties honest, thus creating one-on-one match ups for the outside guys.
  • Grade: B+
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade (Celek > Bartrum)
WR: Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis
  • The Eagles are only carrying 5 receivers, and they should all see significant time (Lewis as a punt returner). Brown is a year older, and a year wiser. He's poised for a breakout season. Curtis will probably give the Eagles just as much, if not more, than Stallworth did last year, and he's less injury-prone. The third receiver is going to be the question mark here. Can Baskett or Avant step forward as a viable option for McNabb?
  • Grade: B
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade (Brown emerges)
Tackle: William (nee Tra) Thomas, Jon Runyan, Winston Justice, Pat McCoy
  • Thomas and Runyan are one of the best tackle duos in the league. They're going to have added pressure this season because I don't think McNabb is going to be scrambling as much. He's going to need more time in the pocket. Hopefully, this aging duo has at least one more good year left.
  • Grade: A
  • Vs. Last Year: Even
Guard: Shawn Andrews, Todd Herremans, Scott Young, Max Jean-Gilles
  • Andrews is the best guard in the game. He's a mauler, he's a monster, he keys the run game and shuts down the pass rush. After his preseason injury scare, he's ready to go on opening day and expect to see Westbrook following his ample backside for about 1300 yards on the ground this year.
  • Grade: A+
  • Vs. Last Year: Even.
Center: Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole
  • Jackson isn't an outstanding center, but he's serviceable. Not much depth here, Cole is listed as the backup.
  • Grade: C+
  • Vs. Last Year: Even

D-Fence.jpgDE: Jevon Kearse, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Juqua Thomas, Victor Abiamiri
  • Notable here is Trent Cole starting over Darren Howard. Howard was a big-ticket free agent last season, and he's a backup now. This group, as a whole, is under-sized (Abiamiri has some bulk, and hopefully will see some play, especially on running downs). By design, they should be all over the opposing QB, but in reality, they get manhandled too much on the run.
  • Grade: B-
  • Vs. Last Year: Slight Upgrade (True upgrade if the Freak can stay on the field and off crutches.)
DT: Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Montae Reagor, Kimo von Oelhoffen , LaJuan Ramsey
  • This group was by far the weakest link for the Eagles last season. The tackles routinely got blown off the line of scrimmage against the run. The Eagles are putting a lot of weight on Patterson and Bunkley, and they need to see returns. The backups are nothing to write home about, and honestly, I think this entire group is too small.
  • Grade: D+
  • Vs. Last Year: Equally small.
LB: Takeo Spikes, Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, Stewart Bradley, Pago Togafau
  • Wholesale changes with this group. The Eagles got younger, faster and stronger in an obvious attempt to shore up the run defense. Spikes is a stud, Gocong and Gaither are going to have to prove themselves, but we'll never have to see Dhani Jones in an Eagles uniform again, how can that possibly be a bad thing?
  • Grade: B
  • Vs. Last Year: Huge Upgrade
CB: Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, William James (nee Peterson), Joselio Hanson, Nick Graham
  • Sheppard is an All-Pro, or should be. Sheldon Brown makes plays. Depth is the big problem here. William James is going to step into the nickel spot to replace Rod Hood. Hood was good enough to start on a lot of teams last year, so James has his work cut out for him.
  • Grade: B+
  • Vs. Last Year: Downgrade
SS: Sean Considine, Quentin Mickell
  • Considine added bulk in the offseason, you can tell by looking at him. He's also still over-matched in this league, you can tell by watching him play. The rumor used to be that Considine "made plays" I'll believe it when I see it.
  • Grade: C-
  • Vs. Last Year: Slight Downgrade (At least Michael Lewis could tackle.)
FS: Brian Dawkins, J.R. Reed
  • Brian Dawkins is not only the best safety in the league, but he may be the best player on this team. He's the heart and soul of the defense, and makes more plays than anyone on the team. I don't know where this team would be without him.
  • Grade: A+++++++++
  • Vs. Last Year: Equally awesome.

specialteams.jpgK: David Akers
  • Huge leg, clutch kicker, loves to fight.
  • Grade: A
  • Vs. Last Year: Slight Upgrade (purely based on the possibility of a Rocca/Akers option play)
P: Sav Rocca
  • Everyone's favorite 6'5", 265 lb punter beat out "Action" Dirk Johnson in the most exciting position battle of the preseason. Dirk is bitter, but still a free agent, so I don't know how much he can really complain. Rocca has a HUGE leg, and I can't wait to see him on a fake or two. Akers also seems to prefer the big Aussie's holding skills, so this was really a no-brainer. Did I mention that our punter is bigger than our starting defensive ends, both of them?
  • Grade: B (could be an A, but we have to wait and see)
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade
LS: John Dorenbos
  • New long-snappers worry me. Just don't f*ck up.
  • Grade: C
  • Vs. Last Year: Downgrade (I always liked Bartrum)
PR: Greg Lewis, J.R. Reed, Brian Westbrook, Lito Sheppard
  • As long as Lewis can secure the ball, that's fine with me. In big games, expect to see Westbrook or Sheppard back there in key situations, otherwise, any yards gained after catching the ball clean are gravy. Mahe didn't do anything last year, I expect pretty much the same from Lewis this year.
  • Grade: C
  • Vs. Last Year: Even
KR: J.R. Reed, Correll Buckhalter
  • I really, really liked Reed in his first go-round with the Eagles. He's explosive and he likes to punish guys. He gives the Eagles at least a little bit of a weapon in the return game, which is much more than Bloom was doing in the preseason and Mahe did last year.
  • Grade: C+
  • Vs. Last Year: Upgrade.
Finally, here's another YouTube Eagles compilation to get us ready for the season...