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 center position. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Offensive tackle | Offensive guard.
Regular season snaps: 1163 snaps, 16 starts, 1st out of 38 centers graded by PFF, 2 sacks allowed, 1 hit allowed, 28 hurries allowed, 3 penalties
Playoff stats: 69 snaps, 1 start, 8th out of 12 centers graded by PFF, 0 sacks allowed, 0 hits allowed, 1 hurry allowed, 1 penalty
Review: Kelce gave thought to retirement before re-signing a contract extension last offseason. The Eagles were happy to be able to keep him around as Kelce didn’t miss a snap and enjoyed another elite season that saw him finish with his third straight AP All-Pro first team honor. It’s easy to take Kelce’s greatness for granted because he’s been so good for so long now. There’s a case to be made he’s the most indispensable non-Carson Wentz player on the team. The Eagles had their worst season in recent memory (4-12) when Kelce suffered a season ending injury just two weeks into the 2012 season. The Eagles had their worst game in recent memory (48 to 7 loss) when Kelce got hurt early against the New Orleans Saints in 2018. The Eagles are 3-14 in 17 games that Kelce hasn’t played the majority of center snaps since he became the team’s starter in 2011.
Outlook: The Eagles will hope that Kelce, who turns 33 in November, doesn’t retire and instead continues to play at a high level. Kelce probably has at least a few good seasons left in him but the team really needs to start developing a plan for when he’s gone. The Eagles should be looking to invest in some interior offensive line talent in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jason Kelce: Stay or go?
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Regular season stats: 3 snaps played
Review: Herbig was thought to be a draftable player prior to some college injuries and poor athletic testing. The Eagles signed Herbig as a rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. The team gave him (and linebacker T.J. Edwards) the largest amount of guaranteed money out of all their undrafted signings. Despite being officially listed as a guard, Herbig took the bulk of the center reps in the preseason. The Eagles decided to keep him on their 53-man roster but he was essentially a glorified practice squad member since he was a healthy scratch for most of the season. Herbig finally saw some (read: a few) snaps late in the year.
Outlook: Herbig is the youngest player on the Eagles’ roster; he’ll only turn 22 in July. Jeff Stoutland seemingly has hopes for him as a developmental prospect. Herbig’s not the true backup center since the Eagles would likely shift Seumalo over the ball if something happened to Kelce. But maybe Herbig can eventually grow into a starter or an important backup interior offensive lineman?
Nate Herbig: Stay or go?
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Review: The Eagles signed Render as a rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. He was waived in final cuts before re-signing to Philly’s practice squad in mid-October. The Eagles signed Render to a futures contract after the 2019 season.
Outlook: Probably just a camp body. He turns 25 in November so it’s not like he’s some super young developmental prospect. Or maybe he’s a secret weapon waiting to be unleashed?!
Big news: Eagles third/fourth string center Keegan Render just caught a touchdown pass after lining up as tackle eligible. #trickeration— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 12, 2019
Keegan Render: Stay or go?
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FREE AGENCY OR TRADES
The Eagles could bring in a veteran to compete for a roster spot as a backup center/guard. The Eagles were reportedly interested in Brett Jones last year before he re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a one-year contract. Former Eagles interior offensive lineman Josh Andrews is a free agent and could be brought back on the cheap.
NFL DRAFT OPTIONS
Written by Ben Natan:
Center is the only position that the Eagles will want to address early in the draft. Jason Kelce, while excellent is 32 years old and nearly retired a season ago. It’s time for the Eagles to start planning for the center of the future.
While first round might be a bit much for a center, the Eagles could think long and hard about Tyler Biadasz. The Wisconsin standout started 41 straight games and is one of the most decorated players in school history. That’s a high bar considering Wisconsin’s offensive line output. Biadasz is a strong, physical and smart player who anchored one of the best run games in the country. He is a solid athlete and a leader. While “unsexy” drafting Biadasz, much like getting Andre Dillard last year, would be a slam dunk pick.
If the Eagles want to opt to address the center position later than the second round, there are a few names to keep an eye on. Oregon’s Jake Hansen is an athletic center who is a fantastic run blocker. Nick Harris is a stout, powerful blocker who could fall in the draft due to size.
Someone the Eagles definitely will be interested in Matt Hennessy. The Temple standout is an undersized but extremely effective blocker. Hennessy’s major concern is size and concussions. If he’s able to stay healthy in the NFL, he could develop into quite a nice player.
Among offensive line positions, center is the one in most need of boosting. Lucky for the Eagles there are players across all rounds who could deepen and improve the depth chart.