The Philadelphia Eagles desperately needed to add at least one new starting guard in NFL free agency and that's exactly what the team did by signing Brandon Brooks. The 26-year-old offensive lineman will step in and be an immediate upgrade at the right guard position. But is he worth the big contract the Eagles gave to him? Houston Texans writer Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) from Battle Red Blog seems to think so. For more insight on Brooks, check out our question and answer exchange.
1) Are Texans fans disappointed the team didn’t keep Brooks? Why or why not?
"I was extremely disappointed for the first 10 minutes he was gone until the signing of Jeff Allen was announced, so now I am only slightly disappointed. Brooks came to the Texans as a freakishly athletic yet very raw rookie, but just four years later he blossomed into the second best offensive lineman on the team. It hurts to see that all of that development will paying off for a team other than Houston, but Brooks definitely deserves every cent of that big contract. I'm happy for him."
2) What are his strengths?
"His biggest strength is quite literally his strength. He's very, very powerful at the point of attack on gap scheme plays, but at the same time he's nimble enough to reach block on the front side of zone plays to spring his ball carriers to the edge. He is so athletically gifted that there are no scheme limitations with him, which is why Philly opted to pay him eight million dollars per year within minutes of free agency opening. It doesn't matter who is running that offense, because Brooks can excel in all of them."
3) What are his weaknesses?
"Leverage issues can get the best of him some times when he gets over eager for contact, but other than that he is generally pretty clean technique-wise. As long as he has a coach that can remind him to keep that butt low and protect his chest, he'll be fine."
4) The Eagles signed Brooks to a deal worth $40 million over five years with $17 million guaranteed. Do you think he’s worth that kind of money?
"If Kelechi Osemele managed to get over 11 million per year from Oakland, getting Brooks at eight million is a bargain. The Eagles' number one priority this off-season (after re-signing Sam Bradford, of course) was to get better on the interior offensive line, and the signing of Brooks accomplishes just that. Now Howie Roseman can just go draft Vernon Hargreaves and y'all will have yourself a contender for the NFC East crown."
5) Pro Football Focus had Brooks rated as one of their top guards in 2013 and 2014 before ranking him much lower in 2015. Did he struggle last season and is there any explanation for his drop-off?
"A combination of being minorly banged up multiple times, a god-awful stable of running backs, and an even worse platoon of quarterbacks was the primary reason for any noticeable decline this season. No other ball carrier on the roster could hit the holes he opened like Arian Foster, and Brian Hoyer was so painfully unaware of pass rushers around him that Brooks was credited with a couple of sacks just from Hoyer failing to step up to the front of the pocket while Brooks redirected defensive linemen right into him. It was, to put it bluntly, a mess.
2015 was an anomaly compared to the rest of Brooks' career, and even in a down year he wasn't explicitly bad. He was just a less-than-dominant version of himself, if that makes sense. This is a guard who can step into the Eagles offense from day one and give Sam Bradford a cleaner pocket, Ryan Mathews wider lanes to hit, and match the Giants' shiny new defensive line blow for blow for four straight quarters. If that isn't worth 40 million dollars to a football team, then I don't know what is."