Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2015 is fast approaching. Coaches and players report as soon as Saturday, August 1. The Eagles training camp schedule, including information on practices open to the public, can be found by clicking here.
As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles roster. We start off by taking a look at the offensive line.
Left tackle: Jason Peters
Left guard: Allen Barbre
Center: Jason Kelce
Right guard: Matt Tobin (?)
Right tackle: Lane Johnson
Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson are locked in as starters. Peters is now 33 years old but the future Hall of Famer is still playing at a very high level. Jason Kelce is arguably one of the best centers in the league. His athleticism makes him a great fit for Kelly's offense. Lane Johnson is now entering his third year in the NFL. Johnson has been training hard this offseason to make the jump from good starter to elite tackle. These three Eagles players are studs.
Philadelphia's guards are not studs. Instead, they are questions marks. Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are now gone and their replacements are largely unproven.
Allen Barbre seems like the favorite to start at left guard. The Eagles are really high on him for some reason. It's weird because the 31-year-old veteran struggled when he was a starter with the Packers back in 2009, but maybe things have changed since then. Barbre joined the team in 2013 so at least he has experience in the system, for whatever that's worth.
Matt Tobin could be the favorite to start at right guard. The team has been high on him since he made the roster as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013. Tobin struggled when forced into action last season before eventually being benched. However, Tobin may not have been 100% healthy. Recall that he suffered a really bad high-ankle injury late in the preseason before returning to football only about a month later. Tobin was also transitioning from tackle to guard last season. Getting healthy and having experience on the inside could help him moving forward. Still, Tobin isn't exactly a lock to be a starter at this point.
OT: Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, Kevin Graf
OG: John Moffitt, Josh Andrews, Brett Boyko, Malcolm Bunche, Jared Wheeler
C: David Molk, Julian Vandervelde, Mike Coccia
With Tobin not being a lock to start, there's something of an open competition at right guard. Andrew Gardner took reps with the first team at times during spring practices. Gardner didn't look great last season when he was forced to play tackle but he looked more serviceable at right guard when replacing Tobin. He's probably an average starter at best, however.
John Moffitt is an interesting addition to the Eagles' offensive line. The 28-year-old hasn't played in the NFL since retiring in 2013. Moffitt has seemingly overcome his demons and worked really hard to get back into playing shape. For what it's worth, Moffitt didn't grade out favorably by Pro Football Focus during his time with the Seahawks. Maybe Moffitt can experience a late career revival like Evan Mathis once did with the Eagles. If not, Moffitt should at least serve as healthy competition for the right guard spot.
Dennis Kelly is still around. The Eagles staff doesn't seem to favor him all that much. Kelly was only played when the team really needed him early on last season. Otherwise, he was kept inactive on game day.
Former USC offensive lineman Kevin Graf spent most of 2014 on the practice squad. The Eagles called him up to the main roster for a brief stint but he was never made active. Graf is a sleeper to watch this summer. Chip Kelly has mentioned him several times, unprompted, as one of the players competing for the right guard spot. Graf is hardly a favorite to win the competition but he could earn a roster spot as a backup.
David Molk spent last year as the team's top backup center. The undersized lineman struggled when he was first thrown into action but he seemed to improve with experience before Kelce ultimately returned. The thing working against Molk is his lack of versatility. He doesn't really have the size or experience to play guard, or at least in the team's eyes, it seems.
Josh Andrews survived the first round of cuts before being waived in the final round last summer. He spent the entire season on the practice squad. He's mainly a guard but has the versatility to play center as well.
Julian Vandervelde has bounce on and off the Eagles many times since first being drafted by the team in 2011. The Eagles seem to like his ability to play at both guard and center.
Jared Wheeler was added the Eagles shortly after the team released Evan Mathis. He might be a camp body to have around.
Undrafted rookie free agents Brett Boyko and Malcolm Bunche are competing for depth spots at guard. Boyko graded out favorably in college according to PFF. Bunche has some familiarity with Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Fellow undrafted rookie free agent is a local kid who grew up rooting for the Eagles. Now he's trying to earn a spot as a backup center/guard type. These rookies could also be fighting for a practice squad contract.
How will it play out?
The starting offensive line is set except for the right guard spot. While I'm still high on Tobin, I think Moffitt could certainly challenge for the job.
The Eagles kept nine offensive lineman to start the season last year, so let's predict they will keep four backups behind the five starters. The loser of the potential Tobin/Moffitt battle should be one of the top backups. Gardner seems like a good bet to stick around. I'll pencil in Molk to return despite his lack of versatility. I'll give the final spot to Graf, with Andrews and Boyko making the practice squad.
Who could be a surprise cut?
If you want to consider Dennis Kelly a surprise cut, then I guess you could say him. It's worth noting Moffitt isn't necessarily a lock to make the team. He'll be new to the system and his contract doesn't include any guaranteed money.
If anything, there could be a surprise addition. Maybe the Eagles keep one of their undrafted free agent rookies on the active roster.