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What the Eagles should do at offensive tackle

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles. Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have a lot of tough decisions to make as they try to get this team back to Super Bowl contention. Today we continue our position-by-position roster outlook series by examining the running back position. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end.

THE PLAYERS

JASON PETERS

Regular season stats: 872 snaps, 13 starts, 6th out of 87 tackles graded by PFF, 3 sacks allowed, 4 hits allowed, 14 hurries allowed, 10 penalties

Playoffs stats: 69 snaps, 1 start, 8th out of 26 tackles graded by PFF, 0 sacks allowed, 0 hits allowed, 4 hurries allowed, 1 penalty

Review: Peters made all 18 starts in 2018 but he often had to leave games early. He was more durable during games in 2019 but he did miss three starts due to a knee injury. Peters returned to the lineup after the bye and played at a relatively high level as the Eagles went on a late season run. He did frustrate with a number of penalties that set the offense back.

Outlook: Following the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Seahawks, Peters — an impending 38-year-old free agent — said he still wants to keep playing. Look, I love JP and fully believe he’s a future Hall of Famer. But the Eagles can’t bring him back in 2020. Howie Roseman can’t talk about how the Eagles need to get younger and how he can get too attached to the team’s veteran players and then go and bring JP back. I know it’s not going to be easy for them to move on from such a living legend who carries a LOT of clout within the NovaCare Complex. But the Eagles traded up to draft his heir last offseason. It’s time for the team to move on.

Poll

Jason Peters: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Stay
    (1058 votes)
  • 75%
    Go
    (3286 votes)
4344 votes total Vote Now

LANE JOHNSON

Regular season stats: 758 snaps, 12 starts, 2nd out of 87 tackles graded by PFF, 1 sack allowed, 4 hits allowed, 18 hurries allowed, 5 penalties

Review: Johnson played at an elite level in 2019 and it’s a shame he didn’t receive more recognition for it. He’d probably get a lot more respect if he played at left tackle, which is dumb, because it’s not like Johnson isn’t being challenged on the right side. Johnson did miss four games in 2019: one due to a concussion and four due to a painful ankle injury.

Outlook: The Eagles signed Johnson, who turns 30 in May, to a contract extension through the 2025 season. His deal contains the largest contract for an NFL offensive lineman in history on a per-year and guarantee basis. The team is clearly counting him to play at a high level at right tackle for the foreseeable future. They’re also counting on him to not fail a PEDs test that would result in him missing 32 games.

Poll

Lane Johnson: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (3974 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (57 votes)
4031 votes total Vote Now

HALAPOULIVAATI VAITAI

Regular season stats: 477 snaps, 3 starts, 25th out of 87 tackles graded by PFF, 2 sacks allowed, 8 hits allowed, 11 hurries allowed, 4 penalties

Playoff stats: 69 snaps, 1 start, 13th out of 26 tackles graded by PFF, 0 sacks allowed, 0 hits allowed, 2 hurries allowed, 0 penalties

Review: Vaitai took all the first team reps at right guard in the offseason while Brandon Brooks recovered from his Achilles injury. Brooks was ready to play in Week 1 so Vaitai began the season on the bench. Vaitai filled in at guard when anxiety caused Brooks to miss most of the Seattle game in Week 12. Then he flipped out to right tackle with Dillard struggling so much at that spot. Vaitai finished the season as the Eagles’ right tackle with Johnson injured.

Outlook: Vaitai is going to be a free agent this offseason and I fully expect him to test the market. He should be able to get a decent deal for himself considering he’s a 26-year-old, versatile lineman in a league that lacks quality blocking talent. Vaitai has plenty of starting experience under his belt, including when he was the Eagles’ left tackle en route to their Super Bowl LII win. I find it hard to believe he won’t at least get the opportunity to challenge for a starting job somewhere, which is more than what he’ll get in Philly. Big V deserves a pay day.

Poll

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Stay
    (2131 votes)
  • 46%
    Go
    (1816 votes)
3947 votes total Vote Now

ANDRE DILLARD

Regular season stats: 337 snaps, 4 starts, 62nd out of 87 tackles graded by PFF, 4 sacks allowed, 4 hits allowed, 17 hurries allowed, 1 penalty

Playoff stats: 2 snaps

Review: The Eagles’ 2019 first-round pick began the season as a sixth offensive lineman/blocking tight end in occasional packages. Dillard was then thrust into real playing time at left tackle when Peters got hurt in Week 6. Dillard struggled when thrown into the fire but he settled down when he had time to prepare for starts in his next three games. Dillard returned to the bench when Peters returned after the bye but he shortly re-entered the starting lineup after Johnson suffered a concussion. Dillard was skeptical about switching from left tackle to right tackle on short notice, saying the task compared to suddenly having to write an essay with one’s non-writing hand. It wasn’t shocking, then, when Dillard struggled in his first ever start at right tackle. The Eagles benched him and kept using Vaitai at right tackle whenever Johnson wasn’t in the lineup. Dillard showed some promise as a rookie but it’s at least somewhat disappointing that he doesn’t offer position versatility.

Outlook: Dillard needs to be starting at left tackle in 2020. The Eagles traded up in the first round for this guy; he can’t be sitting on the bench behind a 38-year-old Peters. Dillard’s on the older side for a second-year player — he turns 25 in October — so it’s not like he’s this raw developmental prospect. It’ll be concerning if he’s anything less than a quality starting left tackle in 2020.

Poll

Andre Dillard: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (3754 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (61 votes)
3815 votes total Vote Now

JORDAN MAILATA

Review: Mailata basically played the entirety of the Eagles’ first three preseason games before missing the final one with a back injury. Mailata made the original 53-man roster but then the team placed him on injured reserve for the second year in a row.

Outlook: Mailata graded out decently by PFF in the preseason (25th out of 66 tackles). Perhaps there’s hope he can be the team’s swing tackle behind Dillard and Johnson. There’s reason to be optimistic about his outlook. He only turns 23 in March and he’s now had two full years of being in an NFL program. But there’s also reason to be skeptical. A 6-8, 348 pound man with back issues isn’t a great harbinger. Mailata will have to earn his spot on the 2020 roster with a good summer showing.

Poll

Jordan Mailata: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Stay
    (3300 votes)
  • 13%
    Go
    (530 votes)
3830 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

If the Eagles are looking for a veteran swing tackle to back up Dillard and Johnson, LaAdrian Waddle could make sense. The 28-year-old has the versatility to play at both tackles spots and has some guard experience as well. Waddle started eight games for Jim Schwartz’s Lions as a rookie in 2013. He should come cheap after missing the 2019 season with a quad injury. Sign him to an inexpensive deal and let him compete for a roster spot.

NFL DRAFT OPTIONS

Written by Ben Natan:

The Eagles are in good hands at offensive tackle for years to come, but conventional wisdom suggests an offensive line is *never* deep enough. This draft class is rich with quality offensive linemen and the Eagles could have their eye on mid round gems who could strengthen the depth chart.Right now, as many as six offensive tackles could go in the first round, but even then the second and third day of the draft should have some quality names to keep an eye on.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton and TTU’s Terrance Steele both fit the Eagles profile at offensive tackle. They’re athletic, experienced blockers who specialize in pass protection .If they want to go the size route, Yasir Durant out of Missouri brings a load of strength and physicality at 6’7” and 330 pounds. TCU’s Lucas Niang is similarly sized and arguably a better athlete. Another name to keep an eye on is South Carolina’s Alex Taylor. The 6’9” former basketball player has a ton of upside and will be at the Senior Bowl to cut his teeth against some quality defenders. These guys would require a bit more polish, but the Eagles have the luxury to develop young tackles given their starters.

Tackle isn’t a pressing need in Philadelphia with starters in place and young players in the wings. However, it’s never a bad idea to take a close look at a draft that could bolster the offensive tackle group even more.