Last season was a forgettable one for the Philadelphia Eagles. Injuries ravished the already aging roster, depleting the team’s depth in the process, especially along the offensive line.
Throughout their frenzied 4-11-1 season, the Eagles were forced to deploy 14 different offensive line combinations. Projected starters Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard were lost to injury before the season begun. Obviously, losing a perennial Pro Bowler was a massive blow for a team that desperately needed his presence on the right side. Additionally, four of the offensive linemen that started games for the Eagles ended the season on injured reserve – paving the way for the copious 14 different offensive line combinations I mentioned earlier.
In a lost season with a makeshift offensive unit, longtime Eagles captain Jason Kelce served as the only constant along the line, starting all 16 games en route to his fourth Pro Bowl nomination.
Once the undisputed strength and foundation of the Eagles’ roster, the offensive line quickly deteriorated into a liability. As the season dragged on and the makeshift unit continued to rotate out depth guys, it became apparent that this level of play from the offensive line was not sustainable. If the Eagles were to compete, they would first have to fortify their offensive line.
Eagles will see some familiar faces in 2021
The first and simplest step of revamping the offensive line begins with the healthy offseason and return of veteran blockers Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson. Last season, the talented duo only registered a combined seven games for Philly.
When healthy, the pairing provide a stonewall on the right side of the line and virtually negates opposing pass rushers. Having them both back and healthy should stabilize a rocky unit from a year ago and quell most of the offensive line struggles.
Isaac Seumalo, who projects to be the Eagles starting left guard, should also be ready to roll for the season after appearing in just nine games last year. His impact isn’t as profound as Johnson or Brooks, but his presence will be a welcomed sight for a Philly unit that was decimated last year.
Lastly, 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard figures to be back from a biceps injury and in the mix for one of the backup slots.
Eager to keep their young quarterback upright and potentially add another starting option to the fray, the Eagles spent a second-round pick to draft OL Landon Dickerson. Taking Dickerson, a highly-touted prospect out of Alabama, has been met with mixed reviews.
Dickerson, 22, carries an extensive injury history, one that warrants legitimate concerns about his long-term durability. The big-bodied blocker has two ACL tears (one in each knee) in his past- the latter coming in the 2020 SEC Championship game- as well as some nagging ankle injuries.
Extensive injury history is never what you want to hear in a scouting report, but there is plenty of reason to be excited about the young offensive linemAn. Despite missing time with injury, Dickerson impressed enough to fill his trophy case and boost his resume.
Dickerson was the recipient of the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the best center in college football. A unanimous All-America and a first-team All-SEC selection, Dickerson anchored the National Champion Crimson Tide offensive line until he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the SEC Championship Game.
Arguably the top interior offensive linemen in the draft class, Dickerson could turn out to be a tremendous value for Philly at the top of the second round. Standing at 6-5, 333-pounds, the hulking lineman plays up to his size, making a habit of mauling and pancaking opposing defenders.
In Philly, the talented rookie will get an opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business in Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, and Jason Kelce. Look for him to serve as the top backup option for both guard spots and center if need be as he jumpstarts his career.
Have the Eagles found ‘The Bodyguard’ 2.0?
Speaking on monstrous offensive linemen, athletic freak Jordan Mailata seems primed to cover the blindside as the starting left tackle this year. After taking a late, seventh-round flier on him in 2018, the Eagles have to be thrilled by what they’ve seen from the former rugby star.
Last season, in spot duty starts at left tackle for the injured Jason Peters, Mailata actually played better than those ahead of him on the depth chart and was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise bleak season.
Mailata showed major improvements in his technique and routinely kept opposing pass rushers at bay with his massive size and power. After holding down the fort so well, it is not surprising to see him projected to once again start at left tackle. Having him on the edge should complete what looks to be an incredibly formidable offensive line on paper.
STOUT and Steady
One of the primary reasons the Eagles are primed to have a bounce-back performance along the line is longtime Eagles coach Jeff Stoutland. Stout, as he is lovingly referred to, is accustomed to extracting the best out of the players in his unit.
Although last season was not ideal, it would have quickly spiraled much further out of control if it weren’t for the fearless leadership and game-planning of Stoutland. This year, with MUCH more talent at his disposal, Stoutland should have little trouble in generating a stronger output from the Eagles offensive line. As training camp rolls around, look for the Philly offense to have a lot more backbone.
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