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6 internal guard options for the Eagles following Brandon Brooks’ injury

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Win from within?

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles will be without Brandon Brooks for the 2020 NFL season and that really sucks. We previously looked at some free agent guard options for the team to consider. The problem with signing someone, however, is that the Eagles are really counting on rolling their current cap space over to next year. And so if they’re going the cost-efficient route, it’s worth reviewing the team’s in-house options to replace Brooks.

MATT PRYOR

Here’s what we wrote about Pryor back in January:

Review: Pryor saw his first NFL action in Week 12 when Andre Dillard was starting at right tackle and Brooks had to leave the game early. Halapoulivaati Vaitai originally came in for Brooks but then the Eagles benched Dillard and shifted Big V to the outside. Pryor then took over at right guard and did a decent job. The Eagles went back to Pryor late in the season after Brooks injured his shoulder with Vaitai filling in for Lane Johnson at right tackle. It was a small sample size but Pryor didn’t look like a disaster out there.

Outlook: With Jason Peters and Vaitai potentially not back in 2020, the Eagles could be counting on Pryor to be the team’s top backup at every non-center position. The team’s 2018 sixth-round pick has experience playing at both tackle and guard. At the very least, Pryor projects to be the top backup behind Brooks and Seumalo.

If the Eagles had to play a game today, Pryor would likely be starting in place of Brooks. He looked serviceable in limited playing time but is he really going to hold up over the course of a full season? Pryor boasts good size but lacks ideal athleticism:

Pryor should be able to compete for the starting job but I’m not so sure it should just be handed to him.

BGN’s Benjamin Solak plans to publish a film review on Pryor in the very near future.

JACK DRISCOLL

The Eagles selected Driscoll with pick No. 145 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. He took snaps at left guard and left tackle for Auburn as a redshirt freshman before moving to right tackle. Driscoll is officially listed as a tackle on the Eagles’ roster page but there’s thought he could be moved to the interior offensive line in part due to his lacking length. It could be tough to realistically expect Driscoll to open the 2020 campaign as the starting right guard given his lack of experience there and the shortened offseason. Still, the team might give him looks in Brooks’ spot.

NATE HERBIG

Here’s what we wrote about Herbig back in January:

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 Isaac 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?

Herbig played right guard for Stanford so he has experience at the position. He could theoretically push Pryor for the starting job. The Eagles clearly see some potential in Herbig given their unwillingness to expose him to waivers last year.

SUA OPETA

The Eagles kept Opeta on their practice squad before signing him to their 53-man roster in December. The promotion occurred since another team was trying to poach the 2019 undrafted rookie free agent signing away from Philly.

Opeta and Herbig are in a similar boat. The Eagles liked their potential enough to keep them around. Now they’ll have a chance to potentially compete for the starting right guard spot ... or a crucial backup job.

Opeta isn’t the biggest guy but he’s strong and offers some good athleticism:

LUKE JURIGA

The Eagles gave Juriga the highest guarantee out of their 13 UDFA signings. He’s officially listed at center on the roster page but Juriga made 38 of his 52 Western Michigan starts at right guard.

Juriga is fighting an up-hill battle due to the lack of regular offseason reps he’d normally be getting. The Brooks injury gives him a better chance to make the roster, though, and he’s probably at least a lock for the practice squad.

JULIAN GOOD-JONES

JGJ is another 2020 Eagles UDFA addition. The team gave him the 11th highest guarantee of their 13 total signings. JGJ is realistically competing for a job on the practice squad.


VERDICT

There’s an argument to be made that the Eagles should skip on paying money to a free agent and instead count on Jeff Stoutland to make it work with the internal options. If that’s the case, Pryor could very well be the starter entering 2020. Driscoll, Herbig, Opeta, and maybe even Juriga will look to push him for that role. Seems risky to me. I’d prefer the team to add a veteran in some capacity.

Poll

Which option should the Eagles start at right guard?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Matt Pryor
    (1123 votes)
  • 10%
    Jack Driscoll
    (244 votes)
  • 4%
    Nate Herbig
    (101 votes)
  • 3%
    Sua Opeta
    (87 votes)
  • 1%
    Luke Juriga
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    Julian Good-Jones
    (8 votes)
  • 32%
    Sign a veteran
    (767 votes)
2355 votes total Vote Now