Training Camp is officially one week away for the Philadelphia Eagles and it could not come quicker for one group in particular – the offensive line. Here is everything you need to know about the group going into a string of battles that look set to last all summer long.
Prince Tega Wanagho
Simply put, this is a huge offseason for any offensive tackle not named Lane Johnson. Jason Peters may well be back in the fold, but he’s at right guard and well out of the way of Andre Dillard for now. If we remove Peters from the equation, there is no reliable backup behind the second-year player, raising a slight cause for concern should a tackle go down with an injury (no preseason and the fact Vaitai saw significant action every season speaks volumes here), but with it, a sense of opportunity.
We know that Jordan Mailata has been the project of Jeff Stoutland for two years now, but is he ready to step up in a pinch and start against some of the league’s most tenacious pass-rushers? Without a preseason, that Mountain is even taller to climb.
Breathing dow his neck will be the returning Casey Tucker and recently-drafted Prince Tega Wanagho. Prince is essentially the next-in-line on the conveyor belt after Vaitai signed a meaty extension in Detroit. Whether or not he’s more ready than Mailata/Tucker is exactly what camp will be crucial for.
The big wildcard here is obviously the return of Jason Peters. The 38-year-old will be moving not only to the right-hand-side, but playing a position he never has before. Without preseason, it could well be a rocky path to go down, and there’s every chance that Matt Pryor, someone who attended the OL Masterminds class with Lane Johnson recently, is more readily equipped than ‘the bodyguard’ for the upcoming season.
Pryor has to approach this Summer with a chip on his shoulder. The Eagles did have a viable option to replace the injured Brandon Brooks in the TCU product, but spent significant money to take a risk on Jason Peters instead. This should absolutely fuel a fire for Pryor to make a statement and show he’s ready now.
Beyond him, Sua Opeta and Nate Herbig will be battling it out for a spot on the back-end of the roster. Herbig is only 22 and appeared in 2 games for the Eagles last year and probably has the leg-up over Opeta here, but a lot can change when the pads go on.
Jason Kelce is back for another rodeo, but who backs him up is another debate entirely.
Keegan Render signed as a UDFA in 2019. This 6’4, 307 lbs, center comes out of a pro-style offense which is an immediate plus for the Eagles. He’s got frantically fast hand movement and while his footwork can get away from him at times, he has the IQ and impressively maintains blocks consistently when in pass-protection. For now, Render should be seen as a project lineman who, if the Eagles aren’t going to invest any more capital at Center, could be looking to take over ruling the Kingdom in 2021. He’ll need to show a real sign of development from year-one to year-two given the new faces around him.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 298 pounds, another UDFA in Luke Juriga moves pretty well for his size and he’s really good at moving downfield for blocks on screens. He’s more proficient as a run-blocker due to his athleticism, and considering Jason Kelce’s prowess in that area, it’s not hard to see why the Eagles took a flyer on him. Watching him compete this Summer will be really interesting.
Finally, there’s Auburn’s Jack Driscoll. The fifth-round pick came out of College as a tackle, but it took all of one press conference for a move to center to all but confirmed. Driscoll looks like he’ll be sliding inside after starting in 45 out of 46 games for the Auburn Tigers, becoming widely regarded as one of the most athletic tackles in the class. Will he be able to win the backup role right away?
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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