This is the third in a series of five key Camp Questions for the Eagles heading into Training Camp.
One of the most stable and talented groups on the roster, the offensive line, has a looming Training Camp battle, something you don't often see these days: A day-in, day-out battle to see who wins a starting job.
The position in question is left guard, where the Eagles appear to have no clear-cut favorite. The incumbent is Allen Barbre, the young challenger is Isaac Seumalo, the wise veteran is Stefen Wisniewski and the wild card is newcomer Chance Warmack.
- Barbre is in his 10th NFL season and his fifth as an Eagle and he's certainly made himself quite a career. Barbre's versatility has made him a valuable piece in the offensive line equation, for he is able to play both guard positions and both tackle spots. Last year, for example, Barbre started nine games at left guard and then three more at right tackle after Lane Johnson was suspended. That's all good. But Barbre was also slowed by a hamstring injury and that is something to watch in an older player. Barbre shared first-team reps at left guard in the spring and probably goes into Training Camp as a co-starter, if there is such a thing, on the imaginary depth chart. He will have to win the starting job in camp and in the preseason games.
- Seumalo is a terrific prospect who started at four positions during the course of his career at Oregon State. Interestingly, the one position where he didn't start was left guard. So perhaps he's behind the curve just a bit learning the nuances of the position. We shall see. Seumalo started four games in his rookie season – one at left guard, two at right guard and one at right tackle. His upside is very promising. But Seumalo has to deliver in the summer. Nothing is going to be handed to him. It's one thing to be promising and it's entirely another thing to come through and deliver. Seumalo is athletic and he's powerful and he has a high football IQ. The Eagles are hopeful of a big jump in Seumalo's second NFL season.
- Never count out Stefen Wisniewski from finding his way into a starting lineup. After being a starter in his first five NFL seasons in Oakland and Jacksonville, Wisniewski signed a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent last year and joined the Eagles as a projected reserve. Yeah, well, he ended up starting six games at left guard and he's in the mix again after inking a three-year contract to stay an Eagle. Wisniewski isn't the biggest guy and he's not the most athletic guy, but he gets the job done. He's a factor at left guard.
- The 10th pick in the 2013 NFL draft by Tennessee, Warmack signed a one-year contract in free agency to reunite with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who coached Warmack to domination at Alabama. Can Warmack play at that kind of level with the Eagles? He's projected more as a right guard after starting 48 games at the position for the Titans, but Warmack has played left guard (he started 40 games at left guard at Alabama) and if he's good enough to be one of the starting five offensive linemen, the Eagles will find a place for Warmack to play.
at left tackle, the brains of the operation Jason Kelce at center, the very talented Brandon Brooks at right guard and Johnson, the on-the-cusp-of-being-great Johnson at right tackle.
Second-year man Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the first tackle in a reserve role, and Barbre can help out on the edge. So can Matt Tobin, another player who can help at tackle and guard. Dillon Gordon returns for his second season as a tackle after a collegiate career as a tight end at LSU. Is he able to make the transition complete in Year 2? Dallas Thomas signed in January and has 25 NFL starts from his three seasons in Miami, including 16 at guard in 2015.
Stoutland also has another group of prospects to work with, so the competition should be great in camp. Offensive line is well stocked and deep, with the one starting spot up for grabs. This is a strength of the team. The Eagles are well equipped for the 2017 season up front offensively.