Eagles Insider

What will the Eagles' offensive line look like in 2021?

Eagles Insider

There isn't one position on the Eagles' offensive line that's truly settled going into 2021.

Because of injuries, age and uncertainty about Jason Kelce's future, there are unknowns across the board.

There are still three games to go this year, but here's a look at the questions the Eagles face at all five spots on the offensive line with the offseason just a few weeks away.

Left Tackle

One of the more intriguing questions facing the Eagles is what happens at left tackle next year when, presumably, former 1st-round pick Andre Dillard will be back healthy and Jordan Mailata will be coming off a very impressive first season not only as a starter but as a football player on any level.

The Eagles have a lot invested in Dillard, but Mailata is not only better already, he’s got a world of upside because he’s still new at this. If there’s fair competition, Mailata wins.

Dillard wasn’t awful in his three starts last year, but Mailata has certainly shown more in his eight starts than Dillard showed in his four last year.

One thing is for darn sure: There better not be any sign of Jason Peters next year! 

Left Guard

The job presumably belongs to Isaac Seumalo, who has turned out to be very solid since taking over for Stefen Wisniewski halfway through the 2018 season. 

There’s one caveat. If Kelce does retire, I would expect Seumalo to get first crack at center. I remember Kelce telling me back in 2016 training camp that when he eventually did step away from the game, Seumalo would become a Pro Bowl center.

 

If that happens, Sua Opeta would probably make the most sense to replace Seumalo at left guard. Opeta made a couple starts at left guard this year before getting hurt and did OK.  

Nate Herbig started five games at left guard and could be in the mix, but the Eagles seem to like Opeta more than Herbig at left guard, and they seem to like Herbig at right guard more than left.

Center

It’s hard to imagine an Eagles locker room without Jason Kelce, who’s been playing at an elite level since 2011. 

But he’s 33 now, he’s played 146 NFL games, he’s got kids now, he has a lot of other interests and over the past several years he’s dealt with a constant barrage of injuries that would have sidelined most NFL players.

What if Kelce does retire? As we said, Seumalo is a possibility. But the Eagles also might want to keep him where he’s played consistent football for the last several years.

But there are a couple other options. 

Herbig, who has played well for the most part at both guard spots, practiced a lot last summer at center and could be an option. 

And the Eagles just a few days ago signed Ross Pierschbacher to their active roster off Washington’s practice squad. 

Pierschbacher played left guard for three years at Alabama - blocking for Jalen Hurts for two of those seasons - before moving to center as a senior in the fall of 2018, and he wound up as a first-team all-SEC and second-team All-America center.

There’s also undrafted rookie Luke Juriga, who is Kelce’s backup this year and has played on special teams the last 13 games (plus four snaps at center).

The Eagles do have some options. But none of them are anywhere close to what they have with Kelce.

Right Guard

Brandon Brooks should be back. By opening day it will have been 15 months since he tore his Achilles.

But he’ll be 32 by opening day and he’s dealt with some pretty serious injuries for the last few years - a torn Achilles at the end of 2018, a dislocated shoulder last year that left him unavailable for the playoffs and the second Achilles this past summer.

He’s the best right guard in the league when he’s been healthy, but with players in their early 30s injuries can take a cumulative effect. 

Hopefully, the Eagles don’t need to think about anybody else at right guard, but if they do, Herbig would be the logical next guy

Although there’s always Jamon Brown!

Right Tackle

Lane Johnson, who has or soon will undergo a second ankle operation, said he expects to be ready to go in time for next season, but this is an injury that’s hindered Johnson for three seasons, so nothing is a lock.

 

When a player talks about his ankle “collapsing,” like Johnson did, it’s a little scary. There's no guarantee Johnson will be the player he was.

If Johnson is still rehabbing or unavailable, Jack Driscoll is the next guy up. Driscoll, whose season ended Sunday with a knee injury, was very good in four starts at right tackle this year.

Driscoll also can play guard, so if Johnson is healthy and the Eagles need a guard, it’s possible he could move inside.

Who Else?

Matt Pryor has started six games at right guard this year and will make his second start at right tackle on Sunday. He’s not that good, but he is versatile.

Brett Toth has been on the active roster the last couple months, and the Eagles seem to like him as a long-range tackle project.

And rookie Prince Tega Wanogho, a rookie 6th-round pick, has spent the whole year on the practice squad.

What’s Next?

Between Dillard, Mailata, Seumalo, Kelce, Brooks, Johnson, Herbig, Opeta, Juriga, Pierschbacher, Pryor, Driscoll, Wanogho and Toth, that’s 14 offensive linemen the Eagles have under contractual control going into 2021 (not Wanogho technically but they will soon).

And that’s before free agency and the draft.

The Eagles do have lots of talent on the o-line and they do have lots of options.

Now all they have to do is figure out how to keep five of these guys healthy.

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