According to New Era Scouting, Eagles right guard Shawn Andrews is the 5th best guard in the entire NFL. Ahead of him on the list are Eric Steinbach of the Browns, Steve Hutchinson of the Vikings, Alan Faneca of the Jets, and Brian Waters of the Chiefs. Rounding out the top ten are Leonard Davis from the Cowboys, Chris Snee of the Giants, Logan Mankins of the Patriots, Derrick Dockery of the Bills, and Chris Naeole of the Jaguars.
The 16th overall pick of the 2004 draft, “The Big Kid” has quickly made a big name for himself by flat out dominating opposing defensive lineman. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the NFL. In fact Pete Prisco recently did a top 50 players in the NFL list, and had Andrews coming in at 31 overall.
For years I have heard Eagles fans cry about not having a “big back”, because they want the team to be physical in the running game. Well Shawn Andrews is the Eagles power running game. He is the big back who paves the way for Brian Westbrook to do his magic. Offensive lineman are greatly unappreciated by the average fan, but a true football junkie knows that the game is won and lost in the trenches. I don’t care if you have Walter Payton in his prime. Without the blocking up front he will not play well consistently.
Andrews also has proven to be great at pass protection as well. In 2006 the Eagles offensive line looked like the Great Wall of China. McNabb started off that season playing great, and after his injury Jeff Garcia was able to fill in very well. That team only gave up 18 total sacks, a team low since 1980. A big reason they were able to achieve that feat, is all 5 starters avoided injuries for the entire regular season.
In 2007 nagging injuries seemed to bite this strong group, and it caused some inconsistent play. Tra Thomas had some back spasms, Todd Herremans had his knee scoped, Jon Runyan fractured his tail bone, and Shawn Andrews started the season recovering from a sprained ankle. The low point of the season for this group was the 12 sack debacle against the New York Giants. Much of the blame was forced upon Winston Justice who made his first NFL start, and had a tough day against Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora, but after the game Andy Reid made it clear that other guys could have played better.
Later in the year the offensive line played better, and so did the team. There were big wins against the Cowboys and Saints that almost got the Birds back into the playoffs, but it turned out to be too little too late. Now the Eagles hope to build off the late success at the end of 2007, and carry that over to 2008.
I wanted to give some props to The Big Kid for getting national recognition, and maybe give fans some hope for next season with this. This team really did not have to add a ton of pieces to the offense to be better. It just needed a few minor tweaks, but mainly it needs the guys who have done so well in the past to stay healthy. If McNabb, Westbrook, and the offensive line stays healthy this offense will become explosive once again no matter who the wide receivers are.
Other Eagles Guard Rankings:
Left guard Todd Herremans did not get much respect from New Era Scouting. They have him ranked as the 117th best guard in the NFL. They even have both backup guards Scott Young(43), and Max Jean-Gilles(41) ranked well above Todd. Herremans had a down year compared to what he did in 2006, but you have to remember he got his knee scoped mid season. You won’t hear Todd make excuses for himself, he claims that his technique was somewhat off last year, and he is working like crazy to correct the mistakes.
It will be very interesting to see if there will be a competition for the left guard spot. Jean-Gilles did play pretty well in some limited action last year. Right now he would be the top guy to potentially challenge Herremans.
117th is a pretty big slam to Todd. I hope he sees this, and uses it as motivation for 2008.
The Big Kid’s Site:
If you have not seen it yet, Shawn Andrews has an official site up. I am not sure how old this is, but I have never seen it before until today.
Check it out> http://shawnandrews73.com/
Tags: 2007 Season Alan Faneca Andy Reid Brian Waters Brian Westbrook Buffalo Bills Chris Naeole Chris Snee Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Derrick Dockery Donovan McNabb Eric Steinbach Jacksonville Jaguars Jeff Garcia Jon Runyan Kansas City Chiefs Leonard Davis Logan Mankins Max Jean-Gilles Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots Osi Umenyiora Philadelphia Eagles Scott Young Shawn Andrews Steve Hutchinson The Big Kid Todd Herremans Tra Thomas