Jun 4, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) during minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Two seasons ago, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the best offensive lines in the league. Heading into last season, the offensive line was looking to become an elite unit. As Eagles fans quickly found out, this wasn’t the case.
Before the season started, star left tackle Jason Peters suffered a double Achilles’ tear. Suddenly, in Week 2 the Eagles lost their great, young center Jason Kelce. Finally, in Week 9, the Eagles lost Todd Herremans — this left the Eagles with only two of their projected starters.
Going into the offseason, the offensive line was an area of concern, but with three starters returning from injury, the front office didn’t feel they needed to go out and spend a lot of money on someone like Andre Smith or Andy Levitre. Instead, the Eagles used the draft to fill the final spot on their line by using the fourth-overall pick on Oklahoma tackle, Lane Johnson.
Now, let’s put the offensive line under the microscope and figure out who stays, and who will be shown the door.
Jason Peters – Starting LT: Before suffering his devastating injury last offseason, Peters was considered one of –if not the — best left tackles in football. Peters is a phenomenal pass protector, but he also dominates in the run game because of his athleticism.
His athleticism is a huge plus because of the up-tempo, spread offense that the Eagles will run this year. He will be able to get down field and provide great blocking for the Eagles playmakers. Though his elite status is in jeopardy, I believe Peters will be able to recapture his form of two-seasons ago and his success will play a huge role in the Eagles offense this year.
Evan Mathis – Starting LG: When Mathis came to Philadelphia, nobody seemed to have high expectations. But, over the last two seasons, Eagles fans have been able to count on Mathis as a great lineman.
Mathis was easily the best offensive lineman on the Eagles roster last year and when the injury bug hit, Mathis’ versatility was utilized and he shifted all over the line to help the Eagles win. Even though Mathis had a great season, he had to have surgery over the offseason because he had ankle spurs.
Mathis will be heavily leaned on this year, and if he could have a career-year last seaon on a bad line without being 100 percent healthy, imagine what he could do this year.
Jason Kelce – Starting Center: In his rookie year, Kelce relished as the starting center and was on the fast track to becoming an elite center in the league. However, in Week 2 against the Ravens, Kelce suffered an ACL injury that ended his season.
Kelce has since rehabilitated his knee and he is — barring any set backs — supposed to start the season as the Eagles top center. Just like everyone on the Eagles line, Kelce is extremely athletic and — when healthy — is a weapon in the Eagles offense.
Todd Herremans – Starting RG: Herremans has been a mainstay on the Eagles line for many years, but he had a eight rough games last year. This was mainly because his supporting cast was bad and a lot of pressure was put on him to make up for his teammates.
Before last season, Herremans had only missed five starts and I expect him to return to his All-Pro form next year. Another plus for Herremans is that he will be returning to right guard, which is where he played for the first five years of his career before the Andy Reid drafted Danny Watkins. I think Herremans will have a great year for the Eagles next season.
Lane Johnson – Starting RT: The Eagles have high expectations for Johnson because they used their fourth-overall selection on him. Schematically, Johnson is a great fit for what the Eagles plan to do.
The former quarterback-turned-tackle was far and away the most athletic tackle in the draft and that is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Eagles. Johnson played left tackle in college and, despite only playing tackle for three years now, he is still learning how to play the position but he is already very good and his only going to get better.