Eagles Exit Draft Without O-Line Help
Those were the words of Howie Roseman when, moments after the 2014 NFL Draft concluded, a reporter brought up the fact that the Eagles came away with no offensive linemen.
“I firmly believe in building on the line of scrimmage. That’s kind of how I was raised in the National Football League,” the general manager said. “I thought we’d have some opportunities to get some o‑linemen, but there was a run in the third round that was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like ‑‑ I don’t know, if someone gave me the numbers, it was like player after player after player, and it was like ‑‑ all of a sudden we looked back up and our board was depleted, and we weren’t going to reach. That hurt because we went in thinking that we’d get some guys.”
Since Roseman joined the organization in 2000, the Eagles (led primarily by Andy Reid over that time) have drafted 22 offensive linemen. This is just the fourth time over the course of those 15 drafts that they didn’t walk away with at least one in a given year. Chip Kelly values linemen arguably as much as his predecessor and was undoubtedly hoping to bolster the position over the weekend, but it just didn’t pan out that way.
The Eagles appear to be in good shape short-term when it comes to the starting five. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson make for a strong group. The primary issues are age and depth.
Three of the five projected starters (Peters, Mathis, Herremans) are over 30. Replacements will have to be identified before long. It’s hard to know whether there are any strong candidates currently on the roster given the reserves’ overall lack of game experience on this level.
* denotes projected starter
Of the 11 reserves, only two — Dennis Kelly and Allen Barbre — have started games in the NFL. (Barbre’s seven starts came back in 2009 with the Packers; Kelly started 10 games for the Eagles in 2012.) A couple of the other backups (David Molk, Julian Vandervelde) have played some snaps but it’s a pretty green group overall. Still, Chip Kelly says he feels good about what he has.
“Matt Tobin really came along last year, was an undrafted free agent that really showed up for us. Really excited about his future. Allen Barbre is a guy that when you watch the games when he went in when Jason Peters went down in the Green Bay game, really did an outstanding job at left tackle, which is probably the most difficult position to play.
“We really like the way Julian Vandervelde developed at center. He’s done a really, really good job for us. We’ve added David Molk, who’s played in this league at center and he’s doing a really good job also and competing there. Dennis Kelly is healthy now and he’s competing there. It’s year two with Mike Bamiro, who we signed last year who was kind of a ‑‑ I don’t like the word project but a young guy that’s a big ‑‑ I mean, big, big, big son of a gun that all of a sudden now he’s got a year under the system and he’s really made a lot of progress himself. We feel good about ‑‑ we’re going to bring in probably three to four free agents here to compete with those guys, but it was just one of those deals. There was some guys we liked, and there was a run on them, and all of a sudden we liked this guy and then he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone. “
The Eagles picked up undrafted free-agent linemen Josh Andrews (6-2, 311, Oregon State), Karim Barton (6-2, 313, Morgan State), Kevin Graf (6-6, 309, USC) and Donald Hawkins (6-4, 301,Texas) on Saturday and could very well add to the mix as we get closer to training camp.
They were hoping to add a prospect or two via the draft, but will have to make do — no matter how much it hurts.