So this weekend my dad and I were talking about the Eagles, after I shared with him that Lane Johnson was being used at Right Tackle during the Rookie practices he said that it was a waste to use a top 5 pick on a Right Tackle, this of course began a long argument that just drug on... So I figured I'd bring my thoughts to BGN and get the input of my peers.
I'm going to start this out by saying that the Right Tackle position is just as important as the Left Tackle. I realize that Right Tackles make significantly less than Left Tackles and that the adage "You can't win without an elite Left Tackle" has morphed the perception that many of us have about the offensive line however I'm under the impression that without two good Tackles you can't survive in the pass happy NFL of today.
The importance of the Right Tackle:
It is very clear to me that Right Tackles are becoming more and more important now a days especially with the takeover of the 3-4 defense. Defensive Coordinators are no longer strictly lining up their best pass rusher one the defenses right side (which would be the offenses left side obviously), they're moving their best pass rushers around in order to get them in favorable positions against lesser athletes. If you don't believe this just remember that 16 of the NFL's top pass rushers from 2012 did the majority of their work on the left side, meaning they were going up against Right Tackles the majority of the time.
I don't know about all of you but if my Right Tackle was actually being given the responsibility of matching up against my opponents best pass rushers the majority of the time, week after week, then I would invest heavily in that position to ensure that my Quarterback doesn't have to worry about anything coming from either side. I would also say that the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts really support my claim, take a look at the first two rounds of each draft, you see plenty of guys who were drafted to play RT, or to start out at RT and eventually move to LT. In 2012 you have Mitchell Schwartz who was taken #37 overall who started at RT for the Browns, Johnathan Martin taken #42 overall who started at RT but move to LT late last season and is projected to start there this season. In 2013 all three of the top OT's taken are projected to start at RT day 1, then you have D.J. Fluker who was taken at #11 who could potentially be a candidate to play RT in his first year, Menelik Watson was taken #42 overall and he played Right Tackle in college and will likely hold that spot down for the Raiders.
You have teams giving Right Tackles some big money the last two off-seasons also, take a look at Andre Smith who signed a 3 year, $18mill contract to stay with the Bengals. Vollmer signed a 4 year, 17mill contract to stay with the Patriots. Gosder Cherilus who signed a 5 year, 34.5mill contract to move from Detroit to Indy. Last off-season you had Eric Winston who moved from Houston to Kansas City for a 4 year, 22mill contract.
My point is that teams in the NFL are really beginning to value the Right Tackle position enough to spend high draft picks to solidify the position for a few years before they move the talent to LT and bring in the next guy. Teams are also spending more and more money on guys that can come in and upgrade the Right Tackle position greatly, or to keep their stud Right Tackle in house for a while. Like it or not but the Right Tackle position is slowly but surely becoming more and more important in today's NFL and we will see them making Left Tackle-type money in the very near future.
How does this relate to the Eagles???
The Eagles seem to have always invested in the Right Tackle position, they went out and grabbed Runyan all those years ago, they moved Herremans to Right Tackle to solidify that spot a few years back and with the injury to Herremans and his decline Roseman and Chip Kelly decided to grab Lane Johnson and he looks like he will start at Right Tackle day one. Not only that but Chip Kelly is a play the numbers type of guy, I have little doubt in my mind that he knows that the majority of the top pass rushers lined up against the Right Tackle more than they lined up against the Left Tackle and he will look to remedy that situation before it even becomes a problem. The only thing that worries me is that Lane Johnson is a guy they say will start at RT until he has to move over to take over for Peters and that means that we will likely be looking for another RT in 2 or 3 years, and this leads me to the final part of my fanpost...
Do the Eagles have a prospective future Right Tackle in house?
My answer to this is yes, with Lane Johnson obviously being the Left Tackle of the future I do believe that we have Lane Johnson's successor in house and ready to go. The guy I see taking over in a few years for Lane is actually Dennis Kelly. Dennis Kelly played quite a bit as a rookie last season and really showed me he has some very good upside especially as a Right Tackle because he's big, he's athletic and he's a good run blocker who can pass block well. Not only does Kelly have the tools to be good he is also a Chip Kelly type of guy, he measures in at 6'8 and 321lbs, he ran a 5.3 in the 40 and put up 30 reps on the bench. The thing that really makes him a Chip Kelly guy is that Dennis Kelly has a huge reach advantage.