By Dylan MacKinnon
The Eagles had arguably the best O-Line in the NFL last year. But will it last? Or should they be looking to shore it up so it stays great in the long term? Let’s take a look at just that in the OL Edition of our series of articles on the Eagles’ Biggest Needs.
What They Have Going for Them
This O-line is damn good. Let’s break it down from right to left.
Lane Johnson was the Second-Team All-Pro at RT. You can argue he should have been First-Team. He allowed zero sacks all season. Johnson finished the season tied for first in pass block win rate with Ryan Ramcyzk, both have a rate of 95%. It was probably the best year of his career. Even with missing a couple games in the middle of the year to address his mental health, he still was among the most dominant O linemen in the league.
At RG they play a bunch of people. Brandon Brooks was injured early, and missed almost the entire season. He is now retired. But in his stead, Jack Driscoll and Nate Herbig played fairly well. They could be upgraded, but if Jack Driscoll was your full time starter you could get by, because they did. In his tenure at RG the Eagles were the most dominant o line in the league.
Jason Kelce is obviously the big question along the line. His play is not in question, but how much longer he will play is. He is fresh off his 4th All pro. Kelce is a future Hall of Famer, and is still the best center in the NFL. But he will eventually retire. He has confirmed he will return this year, but it may be his last. They are going to eventually need to adress the future at center.
The left side of the o-line is the most promising part. Two young stars in the making with Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata. Both will be here for a while, and both are only going to get better. They have All pro potential. Even if they stay exactly as good as they were this last season, that would be enough to give the Eagles a dominant left side. If they do imp[rove? Watch out.
Either this year or next they will need to find Kelce’s replacement. The question is how. There is one popular name in the draft this year. But lets first look at the options they already have on the roster.
The thought was that Dickerson was Kelce’s eventual replacement. But he was so good at LG, do you still move him? Why risk messing with what so clearly works? The guy Dickerson filled in for is also an option. Isaac Seumalo was the Kelce heir apparent before Dickerson, and now that Dickerson has clearly taken LG from him, he can return to being the future Center. Many fans believe that Seumalo is not very good. But he is better than they think. Is he a star? No. But his block win rate stats over the years tell the story of a solid lineman. He would be a downgrade from Kelce. But Kelce is a future Hall of Famer and almost anyone will be a downgrade. Still, they could do better with Seumalo. But if they need him to be a bridge year Center they can get by. There are some deep reserve guys who showed promise this year at center. Jack Anderson filled in pretty well in a short sample size. But in the end Anderson is likely just a reserve.
The best option to replace Kelce, is Tyler Linderbaum. Linderbaum is the best center prospect in a long time. We will get more into him on Thursday.
Anything Else They Need on the O-Line?
We know about the questions at center. But what else do they need?
Honestly, not much. The Left side is solidified for at least 3 more years. Lane Johnson may eventually need to be replaced. But for now he is just as solid as the left side, just older. RG could be improved, but I would be completely fine if Jack Driscoll was the Eagles starter at RG next year.
And even their reserves are good. Sua Opeta, Nate Herbig, both filled in admirably wherever they were asked to. They could maybe take late round chance on a o lineman, but overall their o line is their deepest position and the least of their needs, provided Kelce does not retire. The only reason they would spend a high pick on a O lineman is if Tyler Linderbaum is available.
Since Kelce is returning, O line is not an immediate need. The Eagles should start thinking of the future at Center though. Losing Kelce will be a big hit whenever it happens. But otherwise, this O line has very good starters, and solid depth. Its easily their best position, and they could change nothing and still have the best o-line in the league. With so many other needs, it would be hard to justify drafting a lineman unless someone so good its impossible to pass on them falls into their lap.