A smooth transition: Big V shining at guard for the Eagles

An injury to All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks might have saved Vaitai’s career with the Eagles. Despite starting 17 games in his first three seasons at left tackle due to injuries to Jason Peters, Eagles decided to draft rookie Andre Dillard in the first round, making Big V’s future in the starting lineup look slim.

Big V struggled at tackle. He had trouble setting up his pass set, either dropping too deep and got beat inside, or too little getting beaten with speed moves. Further, V looked athletically limited for the tackle position and got out of balance too often. A tendency that lead him to being driven back, collapsing the pocket. Eagles had success in 2017 playoffs due to chip blocks from TEs and RBs to V’s side, which is not an ideal situation for an offense.

With a grade of 59.4, Vaitai was the 6th worst tackle in NFL among 52 qualified in 2017

Pro Football Focus

A brand new (promising) start

With Brooks recovering from a torn Achilles sustained in January, an injury that has to be handled carefully, Eagles might need a starting right guard to open the 2019 season.

Enter Big V.

He has impressed uring the first two preseason games, especially in pass blocking, where he has earned the 3rd best pass blocking grade of all guards with 85.2 in 70 snaps

To put things into perspective, he earned a grade of 47.4 in 157 snaps in preseason 2018.

Film breakdown of week 2 vs Jags

  • Helps with blocks while scanning for incoming stunting DLs.
  • Against stunts, he does a good job of engaging on the first man, pass him on, and finding next man in the stunt.
  • Shows surprising good movement in open field when engaging defenders on the second level. Further, has good reps engaging a DT and transition to blocking second level LB.
  • Occasional strong push in the running game.
  • Stones DTs one on one consistently, doesn’t get pushed back and lose ground often.

Conclusion: What happens when Brooks returns?

Of course it’s only preseason. Of course he is playing backups. Of course it’s only 2 games.

However, V keeps doing the right things so far and is controlling what he can. If he keeps progressing at this rate, he would put the Eagles in a good spot not only while filling in for Brooks at RG, but could even push Seumalo for the starting spot at LG later.

 Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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