Eagles Did Great Job Of Building Offensive Line This Offseason

Oct 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans guard Brandon Brooks (79) in action against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans guard Brandon Brooks (79) in action against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Offensive line is one of the most important position groups in football, and the Philadelphia Eagles are doing a great job of addressing it this offseason.

The Eagles’ line wasn’t terrible last year, but it certainly wasn’t great due to the mediocre play of their two starting guards and injuries to Jason Peters. The less-than-stellar trio of Andrew Gardner, Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin was painfully average in almost all situations despite the confidence Chip Kelly had in them, especially in training camp and preseason. They are no more than backups, and last season proved that.

However, Doug Pederson has done a great job of making the improvement of the line a priority. As a former quarterback, I’m sure he understands how important having a stout offensive line is. And after not drafting an offensive line for the majority of his tenure, Kelly didn’t leave Pederson with a ton of depth to work with.

Pederson went out and grabbed one of the best guards in free agency in former Houston Texan Brandon Brooks. He seems like he’s going to be a great fit and seems to already be loving Philadelphia. He is all but locked in to be the team’s starting right guard.

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The Eagles may have drafted their starting left guard in Isaac Seumalo, who was picked 79th overall in the third round and was their second selection of the draft. They showed offensive line was the second biggest priority after quarterback, as it should be, and got the versatile lineman from Oregon State. Seumalo, who played four of the five positions on the line in college, started nine times at guard last season, and he projects to play there in the NFL. However, that ability to shift around if necessary, including to center, where he made 23 starts, will prove to be important at a position group that often gets injured.

Continuing on the theme of versatility, the Eagles added Stefen Wisniewski in free agency too. Wisniewski, a former second round pick, has primarily played center in his five NFL seasons, but can play guard as well. He will likely have a chance to compete for the other starting guard position along with Tobin, Gardner and Barbre. In the end, this could prove to be one of the more interesting position battles in camp.

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If Wisniewski doesn’t win the starting job, he will provide valuable depth at the center position, another area they were thin at the past few seasons. Luckily Jason Kelce has generally been able to play through injuries the past three years, but injuries can happen at any time, and with the retirement of backup center David Molk, a guy like Wisniewski who rarely misses games will be an important roster addition.

The Eagles also drafted tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who is humongous (6 foot 6) and has an awesome name. But beyond that, he should serve as a more-than-serviceable backup tackle in 2016. Once Peters inevitably retires and Lane Johnson moves over to the left tackle position, I could see Vaitai making a run at the starting right tackle slot if he has a good rookie season, especially in camp. Peters is guaranteed to get hurt at some point, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vaitai play in at least four or five games next year. Having someone other than the brutally awful Dennis Kelly (who for whatever reason, the Eagles re-signed right before the draft) as the top backup tackle is an important upgrade.

And with University of Maine center Bruce Johnson being signed as an undrafted free agent, the Eagles now have a very full offensive line throughout all positions. I’m targeting Johnson as one of the more likely undrafted free agents to actually make the team, but he’ll have to earn it first. However, he was voted as the best center in the FCS this past year, and with the selection of Carson Wentz, it shows the Eagles aren’t afraid to take players outside of the FBS.

Assuming Sam Bradford gets off his sorry butt and drags himself to offseason activities at some point to ensure he’s the Eagles’ starting QB in 2016, he will have the luxury of playing against a much better offensive line than what he had to deal with last year. And if Wentz ever needs to play, having a great line will be imperative to his success.