Eagles Wake-Up Call: Offensive Line Combine Prep
Yesterday, Tim examined the state of the team’s offensive line heading into the offseason. He believes the team will look at both free agency and the draft to replenish a mediocre line.
It’s a good year to pick an offensive lineman in the draft, especially if you’re in the market for a tackle. The Eagles definitely need help at guard, but with Jason Peters in the twilight of his storied career, a good pro-ready tackle certainly wouldn’t hurt, and CBS Sports has six tackles in the top 42 prospects.
Below, we take a look at five linemen who could interest the Eagles. We’ve excluded Mississippi tackle Laremy Tunsil, who you can read about here. He’s projected to go in the top five picks by nearly every mock draft in existence, which, barring a big trade up, would exclude the Birds from selecting the stud lineman. The projected rounds are from CBS Sports. The tape is from DraftBreakdown.com.
Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-5, 304
Projected round: 1
Analysis (NFL.com): Three-year starter with the outstanding foot quickness and pass protection talent expected from an early round left tackle prospect. Stanley showed great maturity in acknowledging his weaknesses and returning to school to work on them and improve his game. While Stanley’s core power is still a concern, he showed improved strength and run blocking prowess this year and should be ready to come in and start right away for a team looking to protect a high-end quarterback.
Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State
Height/Weight: 6-6, 325
Projected round: 1
Analysis (NFL.com): Possesses top flight size and strength at the tackle position and has the technique and recovery athleticism to make up for his average foot quickness. Conklin went from solid in 2014 to very good in 2015 and teams must now decide whether or not they want to give him a chance at left tackle or plug him in on the right side where he should be able to step in right away and become a quality starter. Conklin has some physical limitations, but he’s got solid technique and exactly the field demeanor that offensive line coaches will be looking for.
Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State
Height/Weight: 6-7, 320
Projected round: 1
Analysis (NFL.com): His intangibles will likely help make up for some of his physical deficiencies, but he likely lacks the arm length and consistency against edge rushers to play on the left side as a pro. Decker has the run-blocking prowess and mindset to be a long time starter at right tackle, but may always be a little leakier in pass protection than offensive line coaches and quarterbacks might like.
Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
Height/Weight: 6-3, 300
Projected round: 1-2
Analysis (NFL.com): With his combination of functional strength and body control, Whitehair might be one of the safest offensive linemen in the entire draft. He will almost assuredly be bumped inside to guard, but could be considered at center as well. He has the confidence and talent to start right away and his run blocking should improve as he gets more comfortable firing out from a three-point stance. Whitehair has the ability to be a very good starter with a ceiling that could reach the all-pro level.
Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Height/Weight: 6-4, 317
Projected round: 2-3
Analysis (NFL.com): Thick, powerful guard who can gain an early advantage in the rep and finish with authority. Garnett looks to establish a new line of scrimmage on every running play and is a great fit for a team looking to impose their will between the tackles. While he’s a plus run blocker, his pass protection issues should not be taken lightly and will have to be vetted with offensive line coaches to make sure they are correctable issues. Garnett should be an early round pick who can come in and start right away.
We’ll learn more about Pederson’s preferred style of o-lineman as we move forward, but we can capture clues by looking at his time in Kansas City and the types of players his mentor gravitated towards. The Eagles frequently had some of the biggest lines in the league under Andy Reid. The 2010 starting five, for instance, didn’t feature a player under 320 pounds. That changed when he brought in Howard Mudd, who leaned towards lighter, more athletic linemen.
Kansas City’s group lands somewhere in-between. Only one starter weighs in at 320-plus pounds, with the other four ranging between 305-315. That’s a bit beefier overall than the Eagles group from ’15, which had two players (Jason Kelce, Matt Tobin) under 300 pounds. The takeaway may be that the Reid/Pederson offense went for athletic linemen with a bit more of an emphasis on size/playing weight.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Catching up on a few key offseason dates, including the first days of the Doug Pederson era.
Tim eyes up the Eagles’ offensive line, which needs to be better in 2016 to reach the playoffs.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor discusses what Pederson and the Eagles could be looking for, and looking at, when it comes to taking a quarterback in the draft.
Pederson has talked about how he values the QB being able to make adjustments while at the line of scrimmage. That worked very well for the Chiefs this past season so I’m sure that is something he really wants. No rookie QB is ready to make a lot of adjustments, but some do that better than others.
Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin gave Jared Goff the freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Cal did run a spread attack, but valued the QB being able to read the defense and make adjustments. I don’t think Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch have as much freedom.
Wentz does play in more of a conventional offense so getting to the line, reading the defense and changing plays/protections/routes should come easier to him than someone playing in a spread attack that is built more around quick reads and sideline adjustments.
The Eagles will likely meet extensively with all 3 of the top guys. They’ll put them on the whiteboard to test their X’s and O’s knowledge. Obviously that has to match up with what they see on game tape.
The next few months of activity, writes NJ.com’s Mark Eckel, will define what the Eagles’ future looks like for years to come.
Don’t listen to what anyone in the organization says between now and then. Instead, watch what they do.
If the Eagles bring back the core of a team that missed the playoffs four of the last five years and then add a few more 30-something underachieving type free agents when the market opens next month they think they are good enough contend next year.
If, however, they either release of trade over 30-types such as tackle Jason Peters, running back Darren Sproles, linebacker DeMeco Ryans among others and get more draft picks than they are looking toward life beyond 2016.
Should the Eagles do the former, and that also includes bringing back Sam Bradford at quarterback, they are hoping for a few things to go their way next season.
Seth Joyner offers insight into the new Eagles defensive attack and how the current linebacking group might fit, plus a look at the state of the safety position.
Tim McManus contributed to this post.