Why should the Eagles prioritize the offensive line?
After talking to a team source with direct knowledge of the Eagles’ draft plans, Inside The Iggles learned that offensive line is becoming Philadelphia’s main focus entering the 2019 NFL Draft.
"“The last three-four players we’ve recently have been researching are projected to be top ten picks,” the source explained. “I believe the intentions right now are to trade up and with the main focus be along the offensive line. [Eagles] are looking for an eventual replacement for Jason Peters.”"
These sentiments trace back to Graziano’s report while also being incredibly logical for the organization to take this stance. Relying on Peters to be on the field for every offensive snap is far from realistic. Eagles fans have become mentally prepared to see Vaitai every Sunday at some point during the game. At this point, it’s known the 2016 fifth-round pick is a backup caliber player that provides good depth. By no means is Vaitai the eventual Peters’ replacement.
Mailata has promise — to go along with becoming a fan favorite — but is still a work in progress. The ex-rugby star is still a developmental project. The concern I have is rushing his development and plugging him into a more significant role before he’s ready is the chance it could destroy his confidence. Being confident is arguably one of the most critical factors in becoming a stud left tackle.
The Eagles are likely going to need the heir to Peters after the 2019 season, and given what they currently have on the roster before the draft, the team does not possess that player. The team’s interest in the 2019 offensive tackle draft class also further indicates they too do not believe the long-term answer is already in hand.
Ruling out Philadelphia selecting an offensive lineman in the first round at this point would be foolish. Protecting franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz, especially after losing him for long stretches to gruesome injuries further backs reasoning to stabilize the offensive line. Once Peters departs, the highly-talented prospect gets inserted into the starting offensive line after sitting and learning from one of the best to play the game. It’s a win-win situation for the Eagles.
The hope for any first round pick selected in this era of football is that the player comes in and makes an immediate impact. Drafting an offensive tackle early in the draft may appear not to bring that sort of effect to Philadelphia, but that isn’t necessarily the case in this occurrence. Brooks may not seem to be ready for the start of the season, so there’s an opening at right guard the team has yet to fill.
Three prospects come to mind that fit that bill the Eagles appear to be searching for, and I used Rotoworld’s NFL Draft analyst, Thor Nystrom, NFL Draft Tackle Rankings article to offer better insight.