A report by Philly.com's Paul Domowitch on Monday stated that the NFL will suspend Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson for the first four games of the 2014 NFL season due to a positive PED test. With that unfortunate news, it would likely thrust newly-extended backup Allen Barbre into the starting lineup, either at right tackle or at right guard in place of Todd Herremans (if he were to move over to his former position). Although, Barbre could be a quality starter, his possible shift into that role would create an even bigger void of depth along the offensive line.
The Eagles acknowledged being frustrated that they were unable to draft an offensive lineman this offseason and even flirted with veteran Daryn Colledge on the free agent market. That said, they either knew this news was coming or were already unimpressed with their current depth. With Barbre in the starting lineup, only Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly remain as backup tackles from last season. That young pair only played in a grand total of one game combined last season.
While it is easy to be very concerned about the ramifications of Johnson's suspension, there are still a lot of unknowns along the Eagles offensive line and that may not be a bad thing. Kelly has starting experience at both guard and tackle but has to overcome the back injury that rendered him useless last season, Tobin is a favorite of the coaching staff that may have needed some extra time and the team did bring back Tra Thomas' "pet project" Michael Bamiro. The team also added some new players in both veteran and rookie free agency.
While Barbre, Herremans, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters are likely to make up the starting lineup in the first four games, the remaining talent will have prove that they can provide support. Below are the group of linemen that are vying to become backups for the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles:
T/G Matt Tobin, 2nd Season, Iowa: Played in one game in 2013 after signing as an undrafted free agent.
OT Dennis Kelly, 3rd Season, Purdue: Played in 13 games as rookie (10 starts at guard and tackle) but was inactive all of 2013. His absence was likely due to his recovery from back surgery.
OT Michael Bamiro, 2nd Season, Stony Brook: Undrafted free agent who spent the entire 2013 season on the Eagles practice squad.
T/G Andrew Gardner, 5th Season, Georgia Tech: A journeyman lineman who has been on five different rosters but has only played eight games in his career.
G/C Julian Vandervelde, 3rd Season, Iowa: The longest-tenured Eagle on this list, he appeared in 14 games as the backup center last season, but only played in one game in his two prior years on the roster.
G/C Josh Andrews, Rookie, Oregon State: A 32-game starter for the Beavers, he signed with the Eagles this summer after going undrafted.
OG Karim Barton, Rookie, Morgan State: A three-year starter in college, Barton was awarded first-team All-MEAC honors as a senior. He signed with the Eagles after the NFL Draft.
G/T Donald Hawkins, Rookie, Texas: He transferred to Texas as a junior and started 24 of the 25 games that he appeared in for the Longhorns at left tackle. He signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
OT Kevin Graf, Rookie, USC: Started 38 games at right tackle for the Trojans and even blocked for fellow Eagle backup Matt Barkley for parts of three seasons. He signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent.