News of a torn Achilles to Eagles RG Brandon Brooks shook the City of Brotherly Love to its core last night. Nobody really knew how to act other than to simply swallow a terribly bitter pill and ask who the next man up will be. Losing arguably the best right guard in all of Football is a massive hit to take, but if every cloud has a silver lining, Matt Pryor may well be exactly that.
Selected in the sixth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Pryor came out of TCU as a versatile prospect who lined up just about everywhere along the offensive line at college. He, of course, played alongside Halapoulivaati Vaitai in college – the first man to congratulate him on being drafted by the Eagles, expressing excitement at their reuniting. Pryor had followed Vaitai through the ranks at TCU and would now do the same in Philadelphia, leaning on his jack-of-all-trades style.
“I came in as a tackle and the following year we were short on guards and my coach asked me to switch, so whatever was gonna help the team.” Pryor told me in an interview shortly after he was drafted. “I started two years at guard and in my senior year I switched between the two. I feel like I have the athletic ability to do both. Whatever was going to help the team is what I did.”
That kind of versatility is cherished by Jeff Stoutland’s group and Pryor was no exception. The 6’7, 332 lbs, dancing bear now has two years of experience in the Eagles’ system under his belt and has worked as a backup guard in that span. He’s been relatively quiet in-part due to the prowess of Brandon Brooks, but he was given an opportunity to prove his worth last year.
When Brooks went down with a dislocated shoulder injury in week 17, Pryor was dropped into the deep end and held his own relatively well. His first-ever NFL start would come one week later against the Seahawks in a playoff environment. In that playoff game, he played 69 snaps, allowing three pressures and one sack. Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th out of 25 guards that weekend. Considering that Pryor was a second-year player drafted in the sixth-round, that’s not bad at all.
Without OTA’s and a usual Training Camp, there’s no denying that this hurts Pryor’s chances to really get stuck in, grab the Bull by the Horns and undergo some rigorous coaching in order to earn a seal of confidence from the coaching staff. The Eagles will crave stability and experience and it’s just not something Pryor has at the moment. But what he does have in a limited sample size – is some relative in a big-time game at a moments notice.
I don’t think the Eagles will roll into 2020 with solely Matt Pryor as their option at RG, but completely discounting him as an in-house replacement is a little silly. We saw the strides taken by Isaac Seumalo to win the starting LG role after a bumpy first few years in the league, and Vaitai’s development speaks for itself. Pryor could well be looking to follow in the footsteps of his former TCU teammate and has a monumental opportunity to secure that role once camp opens if he can showcase that same level of play he did against Seattle.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Jerry Habraken, Delaware News Journal, Delaware News Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC