Executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman says the Eagles are a better football team after free agency and the draft. We're putting his claim to the test, breaking down the depth chart position by position to examine whether the roster really improved or actually took a step back this offseason.
The series continues with the offensive line, where the Eagles have decided to move on from Jason Peters, at least for the time being.
Nothing against Jordan Mailata, Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta, who could become very good players for all we know. They just don't have the greatest pedigree. Mailata never even played football until two years ago, and the other two were undrafted free agents.
The Eagles did a smart thing — especially given Jason Peters' departure — and at least provided competition among the reserves. That meant selecting two Auburn linemen in the draft — Jack Driscoll in the fourth round and Prince Tega Wanogho in the sixth.
Driscoll is an experienced, versatile linemen who played tackle and has experience at guard too, though he's not the biggest or most athletic. Wanogho is a little more raw, but is built like a prototypical left tackle who tumbled in the draft due in part to a knee injury believed to be minor. With only Matt Pryor's spot on the bench seemingly safe, both rookies could potentially crack the roster.
No matter how high you are on Andre Dillard — and enthusiasm has definitely waned — or how down you were on Peters, there's no denying the Eagles took a step back at least in the short term.
Peters played well last season when he wasn't coming off the field with an injury. No, of course he isn't at the level he was during nine Pro Bowl seasons. Look around the NFL, though. How many teams have a better left tackle right now? Generously, that number is probably 10 and no more. So whether you're of the mind Peters constantly coming in and out of the lineup is a problem or Dillard just needs to learn and take his lumps to hopefully one day be worth of taking a first ballot Hall of Famer's place, it's an obvious downgrade.
On the bright side, the Eagles anticipate returning the other four members of the O-line, three of whom are Pro Bowl-caliber players right now. Jason Kelce remains one of the best centers in the league, Lane Johnson is one of the top right tackles, and Brandon Brooks is one the best offensive linemen in the league, period. Isaac Seumalo is a pretty underrated player, too.
As good as this group is, continuity is also important for offensive lines, which means this is one instance where staying the same is almost like improving.
We haven't seen enough of Dillard to know whether he'll live up the hype of being a top-10 talent who fell to the Eagles late in the first round in 2019. There's also been talk of Peters possibly returning, something people should warm up to since the club doesn't seem so thrilled about his successor.
Another question mark flying under the radar here is whether or not the Mailata experiment is going anywhere. It's been two years, and while the former Aussie rugby star did well in some preseason games, we have yet to see him pressed into a meaningful situation. Can Mailata play? Is he even a lock to make the roster at this point?
Better or worse?
Now that free agency has come and gone and Peters is still a free agent — not to mention all the talk of Dillard being on the trade block — I've come around on the Eagles bringing the 38-year-old back at the right price. The bottom line is, on Week 1 of 2020, he's the far superior option at left tackle.
It's good the Eagles drafted players like Driscoll and Wanogho, either of whom wind up the heir apparent should Dillard falter. With Peters, the rookies make the line a deeper unit. Without Peters, they're the tiny fire extinguishers behind the broken glass for when the building is already engulfed in flames.
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