Eagles training camp position preview: Offensive line.
Philadelphia Eagles training camp is right around the corner! Players are scheduled to report to the NovaCare Complex on July 27. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles’ roster. We continue today by taking a look at the offensive line. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end.
LANE JOHNSON, JORDAN MAILATA, ANDRE DILLARD, JACK DRISCOLL, LE’RAVEN CLARK, BRETT TOTH, CASEY TUCKER
When healthy, Johnson is one of the best offensive tackles (not just right tackles) in the entire NFL. Heck, he’s been playing at a high level despite battling through an ankle injury that’s bothered him dating back to October 2018. Now presumably healthy, Johnson could be primed for another great. Then again, Johnson admitted he wasn’t sure if his “collapsed” ankle that required surgery would impact him the rest of his career. The Eagles will hope their 31-year-old right tackle can still operate at a high level for years to come considering Johnson is signed through 2025.
Mailata will be competing for the starting left tackle job. He showed promise last season and there’s reason to believe the 24-year-old can build on that.
Dillard, who turns 26 in October, will also be competing for the starting left tackle job. The 2019 first-round pick seems to be in a positive headspace after getting off social media. But Dillard has much to prove after struggling as a rookie and then again during last year’s camp. And if he can’t beat out Mailata, there’s question about his value to the team as a backup at left tackle only. This is to say the Eagles might look to trade Dillard later this summer.
Driscoll has the potential to be the top swing tackle if Dillard is traded. At the very least, he projects to be the top backup to Johnson at right tackle. Unless Dillard wins the starting job and the Eagles go with Mailata as the swing tackle.
It would be understandable if you forgot Clark was on the team; it’s not like his mid-May signing drew much fanfare. The 28-year-old offers a track record of experience with 15 starts in 47 career games played. That said, it’s unclear when he’ll be ready for action considering he suffered a torn Achilles in Week 13 last season. Clark might begin the season on the PUP list, ruling him out for the Eagles’ first six games at least. They could aim to activate him after Week 7 if they’re looking thin on the offensive line.
Toth is entering his first full training camp with the Eagles. The team seems to value his potential but he’ll have to deliver on that to some extent to earn a roster spot. Might end up on the practice squad instead.
Tucker, now in his fourth stint with the Eagles, is just a camp body.
BRANDON BROOKS, ISAAC SEUMALO, LANDON DICKERSON, NATE HERBIG, MATT PRYOR, SUA OPETA, KAYODE AWOSIKA
Let me be clear: Brooks is not someone to bet against. The guy is a freak. That being said, it’s only natural to wonder how two Achilles injuries and a separated shoulder might impact a 32-year-old offensive lineman. It’s not hard to envision a path where Brooks looks awesome upon returning to the field this year. It also wouldn’t be shocking if he takes a step back after the wear and tear he’s been through.
Seumalo is a perfectly cromulent starting left guard. One can reasonably expect him to be fine.
Dickerson is listed at “OL” (not “OG” or “C” or “G/C”) on the Eagles’ official roster page. It’s not yet clear how the Eagles will line him up in practice. Will they have him focus at center to be Jason Kelce’s eventual replacement? Will they have him primarily train at guard? And which side? Or will he do a little bit of everything? It’ll be interesting to see where Dickerson is lining up. And if he’ll be limited in practice at all coming off another ACL injury.
Despite entering his third season with the Eagles, Herbig only turned 23 earlier this month. He showed some flashes while playing a lot last year. That experience could serve him well as he pushes for a roster spot and maybe even playing time as the top interior backup offensive lineman.
Pryor is probably entering his last training camp with the Eagles. He did not play well last year. He’s on the outside looking in as it currently stands.
Opeta might also be in his last camp with the Birds. The numbers aren’t working in his favor.
Awosika, an undrafted rookie free agent signing, seems primed for a spot on the practice squad as a developmental guy.
JASON KELCE, LUKE JURIGA, ROSS PIERSCHBACHER, HARRY CRIDER
As sad as it is to say, Kelce is potentially entering his last season in the NFL. He turns 34 in November and has previously given weight to retirement. The Eagles are hoping he can give them one last good run while also serving as a leader and culture-setter as the team transitions to the Nick Sirianni era.
Juriga was the Eagles’ top backup center option when Kelce briefly had to miss some snaps last year. He’s not likely to retain that role with Seumalo, Dickerson, and Herbig ahead of him on the depth chart. He might be able to win a roster spot, though. He’s in the mix to be on the bubble.
Pierschbacher (officially pronounced “Peersh-bay-ker” …. not “Bock-er”) actually has some limited experience snapping to Jalen Hurts. The two played together at Alabama in 2018. But that’s not likely to help RP much as he tries to push for a roster spot.
As a UDFA, Crider’s ceiling is probably making the practice squad.
HOW WILL IT PLAY OUT?
Here’s how I’d currently project the Eagles’ starting offensive line:
Left tackle — Jordan Mailata
Left guard — Isaac Seumalo
Center — Jason Kelce
Right guard — Brandon Brooks
Right tackle — Lane Johnson
Four out of the five spots appear to be locked in with only left tackle to be decided. The feeling here is that Mailata will beat out Dillard because the former has shown more promise at the NFL level. Doesn’t hurt that Mailata is a couple of years younger, either.
The Eagles could then indeed look to trade Dillard. If they do, that likely leaves Driscoll at the top swing tackle. Dickerson could be the top guy at every interior spot unless they feel more comfortable with Herbig in certain places.
Overall, the Eagles’ offensive line looks promising on paper. There’s “boom” potential in that it could be one of the best units in the league. At the very least, it’s a strong contender to be the best group of blockers in the NFC East. We know that Kelce, Brooks, and Johnson are capable of playing at high levels. Seumalo should be fine and the left tackle competition should bring out the best of the two competitors there.
On the flip side, there’s also significant “bust” potential. Neither Mailata nor Dillard are sure-fire starters. Age and injury tolls could catch up to Kelce, Brooks, and/or Johnson. There are some big “ifs” to be considered.
One would tend to think the Eagles’ offensive line will at least be serviceable considering Jeff Stoutland did a great job of making the most out of a poor situation last year. It can’t be worse than it was with starting 14 different offensive line combinations in 16 games … right?
WHO COULD BE A SURPRISE CUT?
Dillard won’t be cut but it certainly would be notable if the Eagles moved on from him in a trade.
The most interesting “surprise” that could come on the offensive line is a scenario where Dickerson forces his way into the starting lineup sooner than expected. Could he unseat Seumalo this summer? I wouldn’t say it’s likely but perhaps it’s more possible than we currently think. The Eagles sure do seem to like him a lot.