The 2018 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2017 roster. It’s already time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to repeat as Super Bowl champions next year. We continue this roster outlook series by looking at the offensive tackle position.
Regular season stats: 422 snaps, 7 starts, 4th out of 81 tackles graded by PFF, 1 sack allowed, 0 QB hits allowed, 6 QB hurries allowed, 1 penalty
Review: Some questioned how effective Peters would be coming into this season, especially after the Eagles extended the veteran’s contract last summer. Peters proved his doubters wrong by playing at an All-Pro level before suffering an ACL injury. Just bad luck with someone rolling up on his leg. JP played a big part in mentoring his replacement, Big V, while he was out. Peters cares a lot about the success about the team. He was constantly giving advice to the Eagles o-line.
Outlook: During Super Bowl media night, the 36-year-old Peters said he plans on playing in 2018. During his final press conference of the season, Doug Pederson said he plans on having Peters as his left tackle. So, barring an unforeseen change, it sounds like JP will be back, which is good news for the Eagles. The hope is Peters will still be able to play at a high level following his injury. Given the fact he’s a freak of nature, I wouldn’t bet against him.
Regular season stats: 964 snaps, 15 starts, 6th out of 81 tackles graded by PFF, 3 sacks allowed, 4 QB hits allowed, 13 QB hurries allowed, 11 penalties
Playoff stats: 203 snaps, 3 starts, 1st out of 24 tackles graded by PFF, 0 sacks allowed, 1 QB hit allowed, 4 QB hurries allowed, 0 penalties
Review: Johnson was fantastic in 2017. The 27-year-old earned All-Pro first-team honors in addition to being named to his first career Pro Bowl. Johnson is a freak athlete who was a force as a run blocker and did a great job in pass protection as well. He only missed one game and that was due to suffering a concussion on a Sunday before a Thursday night game.
Outlook: Johnson is signed through 2021. The fact that he’s one failed drug test away from being suspended for two entire years is always a concern, but hopefully he manages to be smart about that. The Eagles need him to stay on the field. He’s a key part of the offense’s success. It’d also be nice if Johnson could cut down the penalties a little bit.
Regular season stats: 829 snaps, 10 starts, 72nd out of 81 tackles graded by PFF, 9 sacks allowed, 10 hits allowed, 20 QB hurries allowed, 6 penalties
Playoff stats: 203 snaps, 3 starts, 18th out of 24 tackles graded by PFF, 0 sacks allowed, 4 QB hits allowed, 8 QB hurries allowed, 0 penalties
Review: Big V was thrust into action in Week 1 when Peters had to leave the Washington game early. He then made his first start of the season at right tackle when Johnson missed a game. Vaitai became a full-time starter at left tackle when Peters suffered an ACL injury. At the time, there was a lot of concern about Big V filling in for JP. On the surface, Vaitai didn’t seem to be a disaster. He even had some good performances, like when he kept Everson Griffen quiet in the NFC Championship Game. The numbers don’t quite support the idea he improved into an ideal starter over the course of the season, though. Vaitai allowed two QB hits and six QB hurries while facing a 39-year-old James Harrison in the Super Bowl.
Outlook: Vaitai can be a viable swing tackle. He’s an acceptable option as the first guy off the bench for Peters or Johnson. I still have reservations about him as a long-term starter. He’s earned the right to compete for that role in the future, but I don’t think the Eagles should just be handing the job with no questions asked. It would be ideal for Philly to land a quality offensive tackle prospect at No. 32 in the 2018 NFL Draft this year to compete with Vaitai for the third and fourth offensive tackle spots on the 2018 roster.
Regular season stats: 40 snaps, 1 hit allowed, 3 hurries allowed
Review: The Eagles signed Beatty during the season as an insurance policy if either Johnson or Vaitai got hurt. The seasoned vet got some playing time in the Eagles’ meaningless Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys. He didn’t look great.
Outlook: Beatty turns 33 in March. He’s set to be a free agent. I imagine he might just retire.
Review: Hart spent the 2017 offseason transitioning from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. He didn’t look too bad at his new position, but he didn’t impress enough to actually make the original 53-man roster. After JP went down for the season, the Eagles brought Hart back as the top backup at OT. He was later replaced by Beatty. Then the Eagles signed Hart to a contract after the season ended.
Outlook: The Eagles likely would’ve kept Hart on the 2017 practice squad if he was eligible, which he wasn’t. Now he’s back to compete for a depth job.
WHO COULD SIGN
Seantrel Henderson is a name that I mentioned back at the NFL trade deadline. Assuming the 26-year-old comes cheap, I think he could be a good cheap flier for the Eagles. Given that he has connections to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, he could really be this year’s version of Chance Warmack. Henderson could compete for a roster spot with Vaitai, Hart, and ideally a rookie.
Maybe bring Matt Tobin back as a camp body? Meh.
NFL DRAFT OPTIONS
Depending on how the board shakes out, there could be a quality tackle option for the Eagles at No. 32. Here’s a look at Mike Mayock’s top five OTs:
1. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
2. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
3. Connor Williams, Texas
4. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
T-5. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
T-5. Kolton Miller, UCLA
I know I sound like a broken record but building through the trenches played a big part in the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. They should continue to invest key resources into the offensive and defensive lines. The Eagles especially need to come with a strong plan for replacing Peters one day.