PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have plenty of in-house options available at offensive tackle as they finally move away from the Jason Peters era and at least contemplate life after Lane Johnson, their three-time Pro Bowl right tackle who turns 31 in May and played just seven games in 2020 due to two ankle surgeries, the last of which was a more significant procedure.
Johnson recently told SI.com's Eagle Maven he expects to be completely cleared in about a month and is looking forward to any potential offseason work which is still up in the air as the NFL and the Players Association continue to haggle over COVID-19 precautions.
"Going good. Still in rehab," Johnson said. "I'm running, moving around well so probably a month out from being cleared fully but yeah, it was a tight-rope procedure in the beginning but I needed a deltoid repair, which is the inside ligament of your ankle. So that was torn. I tried playing as much as I could but I couldn't do the things or really push off the way I wanted to. Got the surgery on Dec. 7.
"About five months out so feeling good. I'm feeling like my old self."
That's obviously key for Philadelphia because, when right, Johnson has proven to be arguably the best RT in football and someone who gives fits to big-time pass rushers like Demarcus Lawrence and Von Miller.
The Eagles are at least a year late in moving on from Peters, the now 39-year-old potential future Hall of Famer whose play finally declined significantly in 2020.
The original plan to pass the baton at LT to 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard was in play when Peters was brought back to change positions in wake of Brandon Brooks' season-ending Achilles' injury in June of last year.
Peters was slotted in at RG until Dillard himself suffered a torn biceps in August and the decision was made to push Peters back out to his natural position in which he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.
The year was a tough one as a whole for the team and the line, the latter of which went from typically top 10 in the league and usually much higher than that, to bottom 10 as offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was forced to use a league-record number of combinations.
The silver lining was that players like developmental project Jordan Mailata and rookie fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll got some valuable work in.
"It was huge, especially some of those situations they were put in," Johnson said. "Limited reps but, I've said this before, there is nothing that can really simulate a game. The more times they got to play, the more games they were in, I think you saw gradual and steady progress.
"You look at Mailata and where he started and where he ended up, The season that he had. Driscoll, the same way. Steady improvement and that's what you want to see."
Moving forward, fingers are crossed that Johnson holds up for 16 games at right tackle and Dillard returns to solidify left tackle.
From there, Mailata, who's shown the aptitude to play on either side, would be one of the better swing tackles in the NFL and Driscoll could keep learning behind Johnson while also being able to slip inside to guard at times if needed.
Philadelphia also has Matt Pryor and Brett Toth on hand so OT is certainly not a needed position in the draft but this organization believes in building on the lines so you can never rule it out.
If the top option, Oregon's Penei Sewell, somehow falls to No. 12 (extremely unlikely), Howie Roseman would instruct the draft card to be raced to the podium.
From there a couple of versatile options who played LT in college but many scouts project inside (Northwestern's Rashawn Slater and Southern Cal's Alijah Vera-Tucker) would also have to be considered.
Sewell has been compared physically to San Francisco All-World tackle Trent Williams, ironically his favorite player.
"Trent Williams is my favorite player right now," said Sewell. "The way his athleticism and power go hand in hand is very interesting and exciting to watch. ... I like to play real physical. I like to use my body type to my advantage and to really get up under people's chin and really showcase my mentality also, to go along with my physicality, that I'm coming off the ball every play with violent intentions and that nothing less is coming from that."
Slater dominated in the Big Ten but his 33-inch arm length isn't typically what teams look for in LTs, sparking the conversation of moving inside at the next level.
"It's definitely tiring when you put so much work in, put all that film out of you playing tackle, and then people are gonna question that just based off of a measurable," Slater said. "Honestly, as far as the teams I've talked to they've been pretty honest with me about saying it's not a huge concern from them. So that's been good."
LT: Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata, Brett Toth
RT: Lane Johnson, Jack Driscoll, Matt Pryor
BUILDING THE PERFECT OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Pass blocking - Penei Sewell, Oregon: Sewell is in the conversation to be the best position player in this draft and could be the next Trent Williams.
Run blocking - Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State: The heavyweight in the group when going straight ahead. He recorded 36 bench press reps at his pro day.
Pulling/trapping - Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa: Brown has all the size, speed, and quickness to kick out.
Get Off- Samuel Cosmi, Texas: Come to think of it you might just want to say Sewell in all these categories but Cosmi is next when it comes to quickness.
Toughness - Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame: If you want a safe player, get in line for Eichenberg, a battled-tested performer at a school that churns out top offensive linemen.
EAGLES MAVEN TOP 10:
1. Penei Sewell, Oregon
2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (Many project him to OG)
3. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
4. Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
5. Samuel Cosmi, Texas
6. Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
7. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
8. Brady Christensen, BYU
9. James Hudson, Cincinnati
10. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
Sleeper - Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
Boom or Bust - Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.