Each day leading up to Training Camp, we will look at the biggest storylines facing the Eagles. Today, it’s a look at the offensive line. It's one of the strongest, deepest units on the squad, but there are some fascinating players to watch as the summer progresses.
Dave Spadaro: There is no question that the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They've got experience, great talent, excellent depth, and some promising young linemen in the developmental stage. Honestly, the expectation is that the line is going to look the same as the one that ended the 2018 season. That, of course, is where the questions come into play.
Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks has shown on social media that he's made tremendous progress recovering from his torn Achilles tendon. However, there remains no timetable on his return. Can he get back and perform at a high level for the opening of the regular season? And if not, who steps in and plays right guard?
At left tackle, the Eagles are banking on future Hall of Famer Jason Peters having another stellar year, but they're aware of the longevity of his career. They used a first-round draft pick on Andre Dillard, so there is a sense here of making sure Peters is at his best and also developing Dillard. He's not here to have a redshirt rookie campaign.
Otherwise, the line is pretty much set in stone with All-Pro center Jason Kelce, left guard Isaac Seumalo, and right tackle Lane Johnson inked in as the starters. Stefen Wisniewski came back after testing free agency and he provides invaluable depth at both guard spots as well as the center position. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has starting experience at tackle. Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata were drafted in 2018 and spent the season developing, so we'll see where they are in Year 2. Along with that, the Eagles have young talent they can't wait to see with the pads on and the action live.
The Eagles make sure to address the offensive line each and every season, understanding the importance of winning at the line of scrimmage. They're in position to win there again in 2019, once the questions up front are answered.
Chris McPherson: Spuds did a good job providing a big-picture overview of the position group heading into Training Camp. Fran Duffy and I were talking about how we were approaching this question and Fran pointed out how it's going to be very tough for a young player to crack this veteran-laden group. But one player who I think needs to have a stellar camp is Matt Pryor.
The second-year player can play either guard or tackle on both sides of the formation. Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland, who is another reason to be excited about the O-line group, said that Pryor's hand strength is among the best he's ever witnessed.
"Once he gets his hands on you, you're done," Stoutland has said.
Stoutland went as far to say that he's excited to see Pryor in the preseason. The Eagles have their starting five up front. Big V played right guard in the spring in case Brooks isn't ready to start the season. Dillard is here to learn the left tackle position. Wiz is the backup interior lineman. Mailata is now at right tackle. Where does Pryor fit into the picture? We'll find out in Training Camp and the preseason.
Pro Football Focus rated the Eagles' offensive line as the best in the league entering the 2019 season. If the depth strengthens behind the starters, it will only make it that much more formidable to overcome the ups and downs of the year.
Fran Duffy: When I look at this offensive line and the outlook entering the season, it comes down to two things. First, where is Brandon Brooks in his rehab? That’s a question we don’t have an answer to right now. The team worked in Halapoulivaati Vaitai with the first-team unit in his place this spring. If Brooks can’t go for the start of camp, will that continue? We’ll have to wait and see.
To me, however, you know Brooks will be back at some point, and he joins Lane Johnson to form the best guard-tackle combination in the NFL, in my opinion. With that in mind, the next thing I’m excited to see is just the development of the youngsters behind that starting five. How will Vaitai look if he does get live reps at guard? How does Andre Dillard look in his first Training Camp? Will Matt Pryor be a factor on the second-team unit? And at what position?
Perhaps as intriguing as anything, however, is the status of Jordan Mailata. The uber-talented second-year tackle had never played football entering last season. With a year’s worth of seasoning under his belt, how will he look this summer? He’s got great size and athleticism with all of the physical traits you want up front. I can’t wait to see how he looks next week.