Philadelphia Eagles training camp is right around the corner ... maybe? Players are currently scheduled to report to the NovaCare Complex later this month. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles’ roster. We continue today by taking a look at the offensive line. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end.
ANDRE DILLARD, LANE JOHNSON, JORDAN MAILATA, JACK DRISCOLL, PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO, CASEY TUCKER
One report suggested Jason Peters returning to the Eagles is inevitable. Until that signing officially happens, though, Dillard is slated to be Philly’s left tackle moving forward. There’s reason to be optimistic about the 2019 first-round pick. He’s very athletic, he performed at a high level in college, and he’s reportedly added 15 pounds to his frame. There’s also reason to be concerned about Dillard’s outlook. That the Eagles have openly admitting to considering a Peters return, which is less than a 100% vote of confidence in Dillard. Further, there were multiple reports about the Eagles being open to moving Dillard. One went as far to characterize that the team “dangled” him as “trade bait.” These reports don’t conflict with inside information that I heard about Dillard. There are internal concerns about the Washington State product’s mental makeup following multiple outbursts during his rookie season. Not to mention, most importantly, his on-field struggles not only at right tackle but on the left side as well. 2020 will be critical for Dillard as he tries to prove he can not only handle replacing Peters but also be the Eagles’ long-term answer at left tackle. That is, assuming the Eagles don’t bring JP back to block his developmental path. Such a scenario would be disappointing and troubling in the big picture.
Johnson is the best right tackle in the NFL. He’s really one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, period. It’s a shame that he’s not always properly recognized as such. Johnson turned 30 in May ahead of his eighth year in the NFL. He seems to take pretty good care of himself so he should have plenty of tread left on the tires. Especially when you consider the 14 combined games he missed due to suspension earlier in his career is almost like an entire season not played.
Mailata potentially being the Eagles’ top swing guy off the bench illustrates how the Eagles’ tackle depth has taken a hit with Peters not in the building and Halapoulivaati Vaitai leaving in free agency. Mailata’s potential remains intriguing; he only turned 23 in March and he’s a freak athlete with great size. But the former rugby league player is still wildly green. His only lifetime game action experience consists of 296 preseason snaps. He’s also finished the past two years on injured reserve due to back issues. Can the Eagles really trust Mailata to protect Carson Wentz’s blindside if Dillard goes down?
Driscoll also has experience at guard and spent some of this year’s pre-draft process learning how to play center but the Eagles officially list him at tackle so here he is. Driscoll might be a more pro ready option at swing tackle than Mailata despite his lack of NFL experience. It’s also possible Driscoll gets to compete for the right guard opening. He could be an important depth piece as a rookie.
It’s unclear exactly where things stand with PTW’s medical situation that caused him to fall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Perhaps the Eagles try to stash him away as a rookie? Or maybe he’s healthy and he competes for a backup left tackle job? PTW’s long-term potential is intriguing.
Tucker is a camp body type in jeopardy of being cut if the Eagles only bring 80ish players to camp.
BRANDON BROOKS, ISAAC SEUMALO, MATT PRYOR, NATE HERBIG, SUA OPETA, JULIAN GOOD-JONES
Brooks is out for the season after tearing his Achilles in mid-June. Just a terrible development.
I don’t think Seumalo will be making the Pro Bowl anytime soon but he’s at least developed into a solid starter at left guard.
Pryor seems like the favorite to replace Brooks in the starting lineup. The 2018 sixth-round pick isn’t the best athlete but he’s pretty big at 6-7, 332 pounds. Pryor didn’t look like a disaster while filling in for Brooks last year but he only played 79 total snaps. It remains to be seen how he’ll hold up over a longer period of time.
The Eagles liked Herbig enough to stash him away at the bottom of their 53-man roster last year. He could be in the mix for the starting right guard spot or he might just be an interior offensive line depth guy. Herbig only turned 22 a few days ago so he’s still pretty young. For perspective, the aforementioned rookie Driscoll turned 23 in April.
The Eagles promoted Opeta from their practice squad to their active roster to prevent the Miami Dolphins from poaching him. He’s another guy potentially in the mix for the right guard spot.
JGJ is probably a practice squad candidate at best.
JASON KELCE, LUKE JURIGA, KEEGAN RENDER
Kelce is aiming for his fourth straight first-team All-Pro season in 2020. The Eagles are very fortunate to have one of the league’s centers up front for them. And maybe not for long. It’s quite possible that this year could be Kelce’s last ride. He turns 33 in November and he’s previously given thought to retirement. I wouldn’t bet against Kelce playing at a high level but injuries and aging will take a toll at some point.
The Eagles paid Juriga the highest guarantee out of their 13 undrafted rookie free agent signings. He has a legitimate chance to make the roster. Juriga’s background playing right guard could put him in the mix to replace Brooks or at least provide depth on the interior. Seems like a sure bet to at least make the practice squad.
Render is likely a camp body.
HOW WILL IT PLAY OUT?
If the Eagles were playing a game today, this is their likely starting offensive line configuration:
Left tackle — Andre Dillard
Left guard — Isaac Seumalo
Center — Jason Kelce
Right guard — Matt Pryor
Right tackle — Lane Johnson
There are easily teams who are much worse off. Kelce and Johnson are elite level starters. But it’s also fair to have concerns. Can Dillard step up? Or, if Peters is brought back, can he hold at 38 years old? Is Pryor really ready to start? Just how much will the Eagles miss Brooks? Who is the swing tackle? Who’s the top backup guard?
The Eagles have more questions along the offensive line than they’ve had in recent seasons. Jeff Stoutland deserves some benefit of the doubt when it comes to making it work. The line shouldn’t decline to the point where it’s sinking the season. But it might not be elevating the team as much as it has in the past.
WHO COULD BE A SURPRISE CUT?
Mailata’s ceiling is being the swing tackle while his floor is the team moving on from him. I don’t see any other surprise cut candidates as much as some like Herbig and Opeta that would be more aptly described as notable.
Peters coming back shouldn’t be a surprise given all we’ve heard about the possibility. The Eagles signing a veteran right guard is an option on the table.
On a scale of 1-5, what’s your confidence level in the Eagles’ offensive line? (5 being the most.)
This poll is closed