Pro Football Focus recently released the list of their top offensive lines with the Philadelphia Eagles leading the way at number 1. For most Eagles fans, this should be anything but news considering the sheer dominance the big guys up front have displayed over the past few seasons.
Starting in the middle, Jason Kelce is easily the most athletic center in the NFL, and his knowledge about the game is unparalleled. The only thing he might lack compared to other centers is size, and that doesn’t prove to mean much. Kelce is still able to bully defenders much larger than him and pave the way for his ever-changing cast of running backs. Something to keep in mind, however, is that Kelce has recently hinted at retirement, which could mean his time left on a football field is limited, and the Eagles should maybe start considering using draft resources to find his eventual successor.
One area that could potentially cause some problems for the Eagles in 2019 is at right guard. Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles’ tendon during the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints — adding to an already-devastating Sunday affair of heartbreak. Luckily, Brooks is a fierce competitor, and we might see him back on the field sometime in 2019, according to reports regarding his rehab. To account for the loss of Brooks’ Pro Bowl level of play, the Eagles signed Stefen Wisniewski to a one-year deal in the offseason.
Wisniewski was named the starter at left guard in 2017 after a dismal performance by Isaac Seumalo in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Wisniewski went on to have a great season, ultimately playing and winning the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Wisniewski’s play dropped off in 2018, he was benched in favor of Seumalo, and it looked like the Birds had no intention of bringing the lineman back. With limited cap space and probably an update on Brooks’ timetable, the Eagles signed Wisniewski in May possibly to fill the void left by Brooks until he returns to full health. Luckily for the Birds, Seumalo's play in 2018 was much improved, and he should be even better in 2019. It’s worth noting that both Wisniewski and Seumalu can also play center, so having both of these versatile, reliable players on any roster is a steep advantage.
One lineman that hasn’t been as reliable as he used to be is Jason Peters. Peters continues to struggle to stay healthy, and it’s become somewhat of an issue for the Eagles. The team drafted Andre Dillard 22nd overall out of Washington State in the 2019 NFL Draft, and if Peters' injuries begin to pile up again, the Birds could push Dillard into action at any moment. They also have former rugby player-turned offensive tackle Jordan Mailata still learning the game of football and waiting for his opportunity to get his feet wet.
Don’t expect either of the young guys to take Peters’ throne away from him that easily, though — the 36-year old can still play at a high level. However, the end of Peters’ Hall of Fame career may be sooner than some may like to believe.
On the other side, Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in football — and it’s not even close. Many members of mainstream media, in an effort to trigger Philadelphia fans, will continuously and ignorantly leave Johnson off lists of the “best offensive linemen” or “best offensive tackles” in the NFL. Don’t fall for it. Sure, Johnson had a handful of memorable poor plays in 2018, but that’s because he’s a human. There still isn’t a matchup against the All-Pro right tackle that I don’t like. Line him up against Von Miller, DeMarcus Lawrence, Khalil Mack, I don’t care. He will win every one of those battles.
Honorable mention: Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Vaitai is a serviceable lineman. He can come into a game and take over for an injured tackle at a moment’s notice and do well enough for the Eagles’ offense to flourish. While Doug Pederson typically employs a little extra help on his side from time to time, that certainly does not take away from what Vaitai has been able to accomplish in his short time in the league. The Eagles are lucky to have this amount of depth just in their guys upfront.
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