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Weapon X Mailbag: Who do you want to win the Eagles’ left tackle battle?

Plus: When will Philly hit on a franchise player?

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The second mailbag this week! I went long on how to make the best food spread for Eagles games on Wednesday, so I’m back with some leftover questions. I was proud of that one, make sure to check it out here.

Let’s get to the other (still very worthy) questions...

SPOILERS FOR LOKI ON DISNEY PLUS ON THE FINAL MAILBAG QUESTION

@Blackerrish: All factors considered (salary, draft position, attitude, haircut...), who do you want to win the LT spot?

I’m not sure if this is making fun of me because I’ve definitely mentioned in the past that I go to the same barbershop as Jordan Mailata, but if it is, I deserve it.

Anyway, I wrote this about the Mailata/Andre Dillard situation at left tackle before the draft:

It’s pretty easily Jordan Mailata to me. Maybe Penei Sewell falls to the 12th pick or the front office loves Rashawn Slater, but I’d imagine it’s an internal answer for left tackle this year.

From all the whispers I hear, the organization has soured on Andre Dillard rather quickly. That might not necessarily fair given that he missed the entire 2020 season when he was in line to be the starting LT in camp, but those are the breaks of the game.

Dillard is a little over a year-and-a-half years older than Mailata. There isn’t a ton of precedent for a first-round pick to be a first-time legit starter in his age-26 season.

Mailata is someone the fan base has latched onto, but there’s reason for that. His developmental path has been exponential and played relatively well enough in 2020 to earn the gig for this upcoming year. He’s younger and he’s only getting better as he progresses in his knowledge of the game. I truly believe he has the makeup to be a future Pro Bowler.

Unless he has a disastrous camp and Dillard comes in looking like the second coming of Walter Jones, it should be Mailata’s job to lose. I would welcome a great training camp battle though. When’s the last time we had one of those? I think back to Jamaal Jackson and Hank Fraley fighting for the starting center job in 2005, an event that improbably led to the two players being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The Eagles are starved for intriguing storylines, so it’d definitely give us all an exciting talking point.

For nearly my entire life, the Eagles have had franchise left tackles. Tra Thomas was an All-Pro. Jason Peters is a Hall of Famer. I, like most Eagles fans, thought that Dillard would be the next in that storied line, but it increasingly feels like that’s not the case. I’m not putting Mailata in the Hall of Fame right now, but he can be a Pro Bowl player in this league.

@Jsnow345: What would be your outlook on the Eagles if they were able to use draft capital to acquire both Deshaun Watson and Xavien Howard?

I’ve said this a few times both on the site and on BGN Radio: I do not want Deshaun Watson on the Eagles. Read the room, Jeffrey Lurie.

As for Xavien Howard, I have a couple of thoughts. Rumors are percolating that he’s unhappy with his contract situation, so naturally, a discussion starts about whether the Dolphins would trade him.

I understand that Howard wants to be the highest-paid defensive back on his team given that the entire defense is built around him and he’s coming off an uber-productive season. He deserves a raise ahead of a year where he’ll have a cap hit of $13.5 million.

Money rules all in the NFL (and in every facet of the world, really). It makes no sense from an on-field perspective for Miami, but they may not want to tie more money up in the secondary as Howard ages. The cornerback is entering his age-28 season.

It would make sense for the Eagles from simply an on-field perspective, but I have my doubts that it works when considering all factors. The Eagles making an ill-advised trade for Darius Slay last year messes things up. Slay is merely pretty good, not great, and giving him a new contract upon his arrival in Philly and then restructuring his deal this offseason throws a wrench into this.

There’s a huge hole opposite Slay at starting cornerback, but can a team that’s ostensibly in a rebuild pay huge money to two corners? Slay is already 30 and not the player he once was in Detroit. I’m not even sure a trade for Howard that would need to inevitably include a new contract works for this year money-wise. Sure, Howie Roseman could move some things around, but it would just muddle the cap going for, creating financial problems in waves.

He’d command a ton of draft capital too, right? It’d be a higher price than the third and fifth rounders the Eagles sent to the Lions for Slay. What would the Eagles need to party with? One of their firsts next season (they coincidentally own Miami’s and could have Indianapolis’ pick too)? If they were a true contender ready to get over the hump and go on a Super Bowl run, maybe you go for it. That’s just not the case in Philly.

Howard is a phenomenal player, but his age and impending new contract don’t make sense for the Eagles on their current timeline.

@VeeralBham: Do you see a world where a Philadelphia team can hit on a franchise player in the first round of a draft? The last player of note was drafted in 2014.

In 2014, the Sixers selected Joel Embiid in the first round. Huge hit!

The Phillies selected Aaron Nola in the first round that year. That looked like it was going to be a hit, but he’s hit a wall in a way that could only happen in Philly. He has a 4.64 ERA this season. YIKES!

That same year, the Eagles drafted... Marcus Smith. Yeahhhh...

The Flyers drafted Oskar Lindblom that year. INCREDIBLE story, but he’s not a franchise player.

So, yeah, we’re looking at things since Joel Embiid fell to the Sixers with the third pick.

Let’s take a peek at the four Philly teams’ picks in the years since:

Phillies: Cornelius Randolph (2015, 10th pick), Mickey Moniak (2016, FIRST-OVERALL PICK), Adam Haseley (2017, eighth pick), Alec Bohm (2018, third pick) Bryson Stott (2019, 14th pick), Mick Abel (2020, 15th pick), Andrew Painter (2021, 13th pick)

Baseball players obviously take a lot more time to develop, but blowing the first-overall pick, which I guess happens relatively frequently in this town, is rough.

Sixers: Jahlil Okafor (2015, third), Ben Simmons (2016, first), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (2016, 24th), Furkan Korkmaz (2016, 26th), Markelle Fultz (2017, first), Anžejs Pasečņiks (2017, 25th), Zhaire Smith (2018, 16th), Matisse Thybulle (2019), Tyrese Maxey (2021, 21st)

The Okafors... yeah...

Three years ago I would’ve said yes to Ben Simmons. As Syrio Forel said on Game of Thrones though, “Not today!”

Markelle Fultz is an unparalleled bust in the history of professional sports. Again, only in Philly.

Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey could be key cogs for the Sixers going forward, but aren’t franchise guys.

Flyers: Ivan Provorov (2015, seventh), Travis Konecny (2015, 24th), German Rubstov (2016, 2nd), Nolan Patrick (2017, second), Morgan Frost (2017, 27th), Joel Farabee (2018, 14th), Cameron Young (2019, 14th), Tyson Foerster (2020, 23rd)

Some of those dudes are nice young pieces, but none are franchise players right now.

Eagles: Nelson Agholor (2015, 20th), Carson Wentz (2016, second), Derek Barnett (2017, 14th), Andre Dillard (2019, 22nd), Jalen Reagor (2020, 21st), DeVonta Smith (2021, 10th)

I have literally no idea what the point of me writing all of that out was. The answer is obviously that they have not hit on a legitimate franchise player since Embiid. Their lone hope is Smith, who I believe is destined to be among the elite receivers in this league.

The fate of the city rests upon your shoulders, DeVonta. No pressure!

@JDel0220: How much production/use do you think Kerryon Johnson will have for the Birds this season?

Are we sure Kerryon Johnson is even a lock to make the team? He’s on the veteran minimum and none of that money is guaranteed.

Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell will be the top-two backs. I’d bet on Nick Sirianni using a healthy dose of both, akin to the way the Colts’ backfield operated last season with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.

Boston Scott is a holdover from the previous coaching regime, so I’m not quite sure how the new offensive staff feels about him. Johnson and Scott would be battling for the third RB spot on the depth chart. BoSco is a bit of a fan favorite and is useful in a reserve role, but Johnson does have a little bit of a differing style than those other three dudes. He’s more of an old-school physical runner. I like having that complimentary vibe in the rotation.

Looking again at that 2020 Colts team, Jordan Wilkins was third in careers with 84 carries for 308 yards and is a bruiser compared to Taylor and Hines. The hope would be that Johnson could do that, but his durability remains a huge issue. I’d temper any expectations for Kerryon.

@ThisIsJoeMac: Which version of Kang are we going to see next and why is it Larry Poff?

Eagles-related Lokis that could exist:

Larry Poff Loki

Nick Foles Loki (BDL)

Gooooo Birddsssss Kid Loki

Shoulder Pads Guy Loki

Benjamin Solak Loki, who’s basically just regular Kid Loki