Ever since Howie Roseman started his reign with the Eagles, the offensive and defensive line have been his pride and joy. This offseason hasn’t been any different, with multiple new faces joining the offensive line group, a group that’s been called one of the best in the league for a long time now. Let’s have a look at how the offensive line for the Eagles has been built for the upcoming season and break down where and how the new faces can make an impact at a crucial position for the Eagles.
Jason Kelce has committed to the upcoming season and he’ll be, once again, the man in the middle for the Eagles. There isn’t really much I can say about Kelce that hasn’t been said before, the guy is one of the best centers to play the game, is loved and adored by everyone in Philly and it’s unbelievable how consistent he has been for the team over the years.
The main question many have is how the Eagles plan to replace the All-Pro Center when he finally decides to retire. At the moment, there are only really two heirs to the throne in the Eagles roster, one of them is Keegan Render who was a rookie last season, it’ll be interesting to see what the Eagles have made of his progress this past season and whether the Eagles believe he’s the one who will replace Kelce when its time.
The other option they have is a center they got after this year’s NFL Draft as a UDFA, Luke Juriga. Juriga seems to fit a very similar template as Kelce did when he left college, a little undersized and the same weaknesses come up when comparing the two back in their college days. Juriga could be a really good project for the Eagles, especially if Kelce sticks around for another 2 seasons and takes Juriga under his wing and develops him in the way he developed during his first few years in the NFL.
The wildcard hare is rookie tackle Jack Driscoll, who hinted in his first presser as an Eagles that he can play Center and has been training at the position this offseason. It would be a big switch inside, but would fit the athletic profile that the Eagles want from the position and if there’s anyone who can make that happen, it’s Jeff Stoutland.
One thing to note though is that the Eagles don’t have a solid backup plan right now if Kelce was to go down, or retire at the end of the season. leaving a big question unanswered.
Brandon Brooks will obviously be one of the starting guards for the Eagles and rightly so after consistent season after consistent season. Isaac Seumalo would be the first choice for the other starting guard role and you can see why. Seumalo has been a huge asset for the Eagles given his versatility on the line, his position is literally the OL on the Eagles website!
Behind those two quality starters, there are definitely options for the Eagles if, once again, the worst was the happen. Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta and newly added UDFA Julian Good-Jones all make up the backup guards for the Eagles. It’ll be interesting to see how developed Pryor is during the upcoming season after finally getting a taste of some in-game action last year. Herbig is entering his 3rd year in the league and Sua is in his 2nd year so, you’d hope that Herbig is on the brink of being a key backup option and that Sua has one more year of development for him to then also really contest for a role with the team.
This is a position that has been talked about a lot in the offseason after the Eagles decided to let veteran left tackle Jason Peters walk into free agency and ever since, people have been asking the question whether former first-round pick Andre Dillard, a guy who was picked to be the heir to Peters’ throne, is actually ready to take his place.
Dillard had a shaky rookie season last season, but that isn’t really his fault. When he played left tackle, he seemed pretty decent, especially up against NFL edge rushers, however, the Eagles decided pretty quickly to try him out at right tackle for a fair few games and Dillard blew up and that’s when questions were being asked. Dillard had never played right tackle before, never mind against NFL quality edge rushers so I have full confidence Dillard will be a great starting left tackle for the team.
Many reports have stated the Eagles have remained in contact with Jason Peters over the offseason and many people believe the Eagles will bring him back, another thing that added to the questions being asked about Dillard. In my honest opinion, I think we should bring Peters back, but as a backup option so Dillard can rightly start at left tackle, and Peters can then teach Dillard even more than he has which isn’t going to hurt anyone. The Eagles also then have a contingency plan if Dillard struggles when starting, they can bring Peters in and we all know what we are getting in Peters.
Everyone knows what the situation is at right tackle, Lane Johnson will be the starting right tackle for the Eagles unless something seriously drastic happens. Johnson has been a fantastic servant for the Eagles over the years, just like Kelce and Peters have been. No one is taking that position for a very long time and rightfully so, Lane is one of the best in business.
Other options at the tackle position include the previously mentioned Matt Pryor, who is listed as a G/T on the Eagles’ website, Casey Tucker who spent last seasons offseason with the Eagles before rejoining the team for this seasons offseason, and the Eagles have two rookies at the tackle position from this years draft, the previously mentioned Jack Driscoll and Prince Tega Wanogho.
I’m really excited by both guys, Driscoll will be a great asset for the team and fits the role Isaac and Big V have played over the past few seasons as a great, versatile backup option if an injury occurs. Prince has a wonderful backstory and the Eagles got a real steal in him in the 6th round, a knee issue made him fall to that round but his skill set is brilliant and without that specific issue, he would have been a 3rd round pick for sure.
One final option for the Eagles at tackle is Aussie Jordan Mailata, who is entering his 3rd year in the league and was a huge project when first selected by the Eagles, given he has never played a snap of football before. We’ve not really seen much for the Aussie during his time in Philly other than the odd appearance in pre-season, and whilst he’s shown flashes of talent, you’d imagine he’s still far off from being a viable option for the Eagles. Mailata may find himself off the Eagles roster after the additions of Tucker, Prince, and Driscoll but the only people who know how far Mailata has come are the Eagles coaching staff so him not being an Eagle for much longer is complete speculation at this point.
Overall, the Eagles are in a great position this season at offensive line, a starting 5 of Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo has to be one of the best lines in the league. Backup options seem a little weaker than they were with the losses of Jason Peters and Big V but when you factor in the great value picks we got in this year’s draft and a guy like Matt Pryor they don’t seem too bad. The Eagles also have a lot in the behind the scenes cooker with guys like Good-Jones, Herbig, Render, Juriga and Mailata so who knows, some of those guys could be a lot further along than most people think.
Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports