Offseason Outlook: Offensive Line

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

This week, we’ll offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backs Tuesday, wide receivers Wednesday and tight ends yesterday. Now onto the offensive line.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will the Eagles go into 2014 with the same five starting offensive linemen?




Kapadia: This is a tough one, but ultimately I'll say yes.

I'm confident that four of the five - Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson - will be the same. The key player to keep an eye on is Todd Herremans.

The nine-year veteran is 31 and coming off an up-and-down season. He got the job done in the run game, but along with Johnson, was inconsistent in pass protection.

Looking at Herremans' contract, the Eagles don't get much cap relief by parting ways with him. The guess here is that they try to squeeze one more year out of the right guard.

Overall, the Eagles had the best rushing attack in the NFL, and they were also the best downfield passing team. A key factor was that they started the same five offensive linemen in all 16 games. Barring offseason injuries, I think the same five will once again be on the field in Week 1 of 2014.

McManus: I believe it will be the same starting five.

There's a case to be made that Herremans will be better this upcoming season than he was last year. Rehab from his foot injury limited the amount of strength training he could do. He couldn't anchor like he wanted to early in the season, which had something to do with his struggles. He slowly regained power in the leg and got better as the year went on.

I feel like this unit was good, not great, in 2013. Peters received a bunch of accolades once again but I think a lot of that was off reputation. We've come to expect dominance from the left tackle, and he did not deliver at that level consistently. But considering he, Herremans and Kelce were all coming off major injuries, the fact that this group played all 16 regular-season games together and performed at a pretty high level makes it a successful campaign.

PRIORITY SCALE: FROM 1 TO 5

* 1 indicates there is no need at all to address the position in free agency or the draft. 5 means it’s of the highest priority that the Eagles focus on the position in the coming months.

Kapadia: I'm going with a three. That might seem to clash with what I wrote in the first part, but the Eagles need to add some young bodies on the offensive line.

It's tough to gauge what they think of backups like Dennis Kelly, Matt Tobin and Michael Bamiro since those guys haven't played much. But with Peters, Mathis and Herremans all over 30, getting younger should be a priority.

The Eagles envision Johnson taking over for Peters at left tackle down the road. But that means they need to keep their eyes open for a right tackle. And they also could be on the lookout for someone to push Herremans at right guard. Free agency could be an option, but more likely, the Eagles will look to the draft for some O-Line talent.

McManus: I'm going with a three as well.

While most of the immediate needs lie on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles will have to replenish the O-line before long. Peters and Mathis are 32. Herremans is 31. Compared to the rest of the roster, it's an old group.

When thinking about the draft, the mind immediately goes to positions like safety, outside linebacker, receiver. But don't forget about offensive line. Kelly knows how critical the O-line is to the build, and it's about time to restock.

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  • bentheimmigrant

    How anticlimactic would it be if we traded back and then took a guard? Might be a good call, but we’re all so busy trying to work out which OLB/S/WR we’ll take at #22, it almost seems inevitable that we’ll see it happen.

    • Tom W

      Maybe under fat Andy, but Chip doesnt overthink things. Really don’t think we trade back with all the elite talent potentially availabke at 22 (Evans, lee, Benjamin, sheed) unless they are all gone or unless we get overpaid (2, 3 and 2 next year or 2 and 1 next year). Don’t think chip overthinks the draft like fat Andy. Don’t believe we traded once last year. He also still has a fresh eye for this college talent so much more likely we stand pat bc he really likes someone. Basically someone you can get between 18-25 this year was a top 8 pick last year.

      • bentheimmigrant

        We traded up for Barkley.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      I doubt it will happen. I think we are still a year or two in front of most of the league in how we are targetting athletic interior lineman. There are certainly good prospects early, but it seems as if we can get at least 90% of their production in the later rounds. Maybe this was just an Andy Reid talent, but if we can still get our guys in the later rounds or off the scrap heap, we have a pretty nice advantage.

  • morgan c

    We definitely need to address this group. I’d put it as number 2 need behind the secondary (safety, specifically), ahead of pass-rushers. I want a stud OLB, don’t get me wrong, but everything hinges on our OLine. Herremans is dangerously close to becoming a liability, and Peters and Mathis are over 30. We must address this NOW so we aren’t scrambling in a year or two (like the Giants).

  • Tom W

    Rumors that the birds really like Tobin. Maybe the replacement is already in house. Kelly doesn’t fit the mold. Bamiro still atleast a year away too raw. And maybe barbre pushes Todd as well. Mathis could play for atleast 3-4 yrs w the shape he is in and little tread. Lane will replace peters in a year or two, resign kelce, role w Mathis for atleast 3 more yrs. draft a guard in rd 4 or 5 who can play center as well, beat vandevelde, and start In a year. Todd will be a lot better just bc lane will be a lot better on his side and bc he is a yr recovered from injury.

  • distantfires

    Given that 3/5 of the starters’ are aging, readers would have been better served by more analysis of the three back ups beyond the they’re “hard to gauge” dodge.
    For example how old are each of the 3 primary back ups; were they drafted by the Birds (I believe Kelly was) or signed as free agents. What do their agents think of their careers and remaining trajectories, etc.
    Enjoy 99% of your articles guys, but you missed the mark with this one.

    • anon

      little lazy, but it’s friday.

      • Andy124

        Says Tim to Sheil:

        I know you don’t write hack jobs. I know this. But I’m gonna get you hacked. ‘Cause it’s Friday. You ain’t got no job… and you ain’t got shit to do.

        • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

          great reference

          • Andy124

            Great movie. I think I kind of butchered Chris Tucker though. Best I could do.

          • Richard Colton

            Andy…how you gonna WRITE blogs…if all you do is READ blogs?

          • Andy124

            I don’t know. That’s my only problem.

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

    {Posted in the wake-up call, reckon it’s more fitting here}:

    This is where I see a 4th or 5th, and a 6th being spent. I get the big CB or DB and OLB “developmental” guy (which I too would love, a guy like OLB Lynch or CB Desir); however, this is where gem OL can be found. Every year there are guys in the 4th and higher coming in and starting, or outplaying vets in camp for a job.
    With the coaching staff we have? Kelly and (most of all!) Stoutland having recruited most of these guys? HUGE advantage.
    I know I already ruined/yeasted the dancing bear. But here’s a few more late guys to watch; OL is very deep:
    *morgan moses (still getting a 4th rd grade!!) , OT, uva
    *michael schofield, T, michigan
    *james hurst, T, north carolina
    *kevin graf, T, usc
    *anthony steen, G, alabama (stoutland boy!)
    *billy turner, T/G, north dakota state
    *joel bitonio, T/G, nevada
    *brandon linder, OG, miami
    *dakota dozier, OG, furman
    *bryan stork, C, florida st
    *tyler larsen, C, utah st
    *gabe ikard, C, oklahoma

    • Tom W

      upvote for dozier and anyone who can play guard and center which we need cause vandevelde stinks.

      • Maggie

        How do you know Vandevelde stinks? Did he play the whole season somewhere?

        • Tom W

          When he played in 2012 he looked poor at best

    • Ale (Brazil)

      Dozier met with the Eagles scouts at the EW Shrine Game according to Walter Football

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        Thanks!

    • Richard Colton

      Like Moses and Schofield – hate Ikard – believe he was abused in the Senior Bowl.

      I wouldn’t necessarily rule out one of the premium names, should they fall to Birds in 1st or 2nd round. Cyrus Kouandjio had a terrible last few games – I think he went from a top 10 pick to guy who could fall to 22 or later. Great athleticism and the only NFL guy who knows him better than Chip is Stoutland. Martin is intriguing too – he could step in and compete at both guard spots outright, Play RT down the road, and (at a minimum) back up four O-line spots. I think Lewan could fall too, but I don’t like him in the system.

    • cliff henny

      guess we jumped the gun in previous article. saw your boy Moses as a 1st. think cat is out of the bag on that guy.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        may be so, but I haven’t seen him ranked in the top 5 OT anywhere. just one example: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2014/OT
        tons of depth

        • cliff henny

          good site. one i prefer also. dont seem to move guy alot at 1 time. atta-guy moved from 3/4 to 2/3 and christian jones from 4 to 3/4.

  • aub32

    No offense, but I think your 1 to 5 scale is a bit misleading. Thee’s no distinction on whether or not high priority translates into dedicating premier resources. I would agree that some young players need to be brought in to develop so that we have replacements ready for our older linemen. However, those guys could be found in rounds 5 through undrafted. So does a 3 mean something just needs to be done, or does it indicate we should spend good resources in order to address the O line?

    • Andy124

      I think it’s intentionally vague. Just supposed to be a generic level of priority the position holds in their minds. Certainly room for a lot more detail, but maybe they wanted something a little easier to churn out.

      Considering they’ve got a long offseason to fill, they may be saving more detailed articles for later.

  • Honest_T

    Yes, the starters are old, but they have spent a year developing Tobin & Bamiro, who are huge tackles. Barbre must be solid if he was rostered all year, but at 29 he’s nearing the twilight of his career too. Molk is interesting too given his strength (2nd most reps on the BP at the combine) and 5.0 40-yd dash for a 300 pounder, but won’t displace Kelce.

    What the eagles do in the draft will tell you what they think about Tobin and Bamiro, but I don’t see a glaring need to draft anything more than a developmental guard/tackle as long as they are happy with the development of Bam & Tobin.

    • Andy

      I wonder if they are considering moving Molk to guard and allowing him to back-up/move to center if Kelce gets hurt.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        For a guy who couldn’t crack the SD roster at all (and no other teams were going crazy for him, even on PS) I think it might be ambitious to pencil him in as anything more than a backup at this point. I doubt he’s even better than Vandervelde.
        If anyone current player were to take Herremans spot, it would most likely be Barbre. But I like him as a swing player, who can come in on both sides at G or T. Who knows about Bamiro, Kelly, or Tobin, but I imagine they’re all being groomed for T exclusively.

        • Richard Colton

          Tough to crack any lineup that features King Dunlap

      • Honest_T

        Given that Molk is only 6′ 0″ with 32 in arms I don’t think he would be more than a center. Also, he’s had foot surgery already and that may have sapped his speed, and ability to get down field when run blocking. That is why he fell in the draft and was on the street, but he’s still young.

    • Ale (Brazil)

      Molk is an intriguing prospect. 4-star recruit, OL of the year, Rimington Trophy and consensus AA in 2011, had a foot contusion prior to the combine. I see him challenging Vandervelde and all the other backups pretty hard for a spot on the roster. The guy had all 2013 to rehab his foot and to work on his strength, and given our sports science stuff, this guy could fit right in

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

    I agree with Sheil, doesn’t make sense to cut Herremans yet. I think his play will improved, as ’13 was coming back from injury and 1st year at RG.
    Even if Barbre or a rookie beats him out, he becomes the 2013 Barbre (first man off bench at 3-4 spots) for a year. 600k cap savings by cutting now, vs. 2.8mil saved next year. He’s also a guy you want grooming some young OL.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m not exactly thrilled with all the extra stuff that Sconces brings to the table.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        Trust me, I want him gone more than any other. But with no depth, we can’t worry about replacing a starter. A good Safety will help make him look better. Just saying it’s not prudent to cut those guys this offseason

        • Bdawkbdawk

          I feel you. And he’ll probably be around through then end of next season due to depth concerns. But I disagree that he brings much to the table aside from his replacement level CB play. If by some stroke of luck or howie scheming we can replace him in anay reasonable way, I’m all for it.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

            I can’t find the link to it, but I’m pretty sure it was Tim or Sheil on this site that wrote about him “mentoring” Wolff.
            And to be fair, of those guys I listed he’s the one that brings the least to the table IMO. I get many love him for his Sherman-esque mouth, but his play doesn’t quite back it up.
            Rather than luck leading to us replacing him, I’d rather see it make him the dime CB for the year (Fletch still starts, Boykin in slot)