Friday, March 8, 2013
Philadelphia Eagles offensive line thoughts
By Dan Graziano
Does anyone feel as though I've been writing too much about offensive lines lately? No? Good, because that's what this post is about.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer analyzed the free-agent offensive line landscape as it pertains to the Philadelphia Eagles. I know we've mainly focused on defense with the Eagles this offseason (and quarterback, which remains an apparently unsolvable mess), but the offensive line situation in Philadelphia is an interesting one. The best way for them to improve is for the starters who missed time last year due to injury -- Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans -- to return to full health. That would drastically improve things on the line, and there appears to be a strong chance that happens. But even if it does, the Eagles could tinker with the right side of their line in an effort to improve there:
If Peters, Kelce, and Herremans return to their pre-injury form, the Eagles should be fine. But there's still an issue with Watkins at right guard, and Mathis (31 years old), Peters (31), and Herremans (30) aren't getting any younger.
The aging of the line's core suggests that the Eagles could use the draft -- and perhaps the fourth overall pick -- to add youth. They could target one of three tackles (Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson) or a guard (Chance Warmack) with their first-round pick.
The Eagles could instead stock their line with some later-round picks and use free agency to fill the one glaring hole on the line. Of the Eagles' current starting five, only Watkins -- a 2011 first-round pick -- was taken before the third round.
One player the Eagles could consider is right tackle Eric Winston, who was released on Wednesday by the Chiefs.
I like the idea of a tackle for the Eagles at No. 4 because of the flexibility it offers them. It would be someone who could play left tackle if Peters can't make it all the way back from his devastating injuries of last summer or someone who could play right tackle, move Herremans back inside and perhaps someday take over at left tackle when Peters is done. Makes a lot of sense.
If they decide they would rather take a defensive lineman or cornerback Dee Milliner at that spot, Jeff points out that the free-agent market for right tackles is very deep. Winston is one option, as are Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. With all of the cap room they have, the Eagles could target and likely sign anyone they want.
The plan of getting a right tackle, moving Herremans back to guard and cutting the cord on Danny Watkins makes a lot of sense for the Eagles. The line was supposed to be a strength of their team last year, and if everyone hadn't got hurt, it likely would have been. The lesson is that depth and flexibility at those positions is something for which to strive.