Will it really be as simple as this: Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson return to the right side of the Eagles’ offensive line and all is well again?
There’s a lot of wear on those Pro Bowl tires, now, with Johnson set to turn 31 in May and coming off two surgeries in a span of a few months, and Brooks turning 32 in August and returning from a second Achilles tear, though on a different ankle.
Not only that, but there’s a lot of money tied up in the two of them after Howie Roseman broke the bank for the talented duo with contract extensions just three weeks apart in November of 2019.
Injuries stalked the O-line in 2020, with the Eagles forced to use 14 different starting line combinations in 16 games.
The offensive line is under examination in our series that takes a closer look at each position group on the offense.
The series began with quarterback spot and was followed by running back, receiver, and tight end.
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As much as the parts were very much moving along the O-line, the fill-ins performed admirably well, earning a grade of 15th best among 32 NFL teams in pass blocking by Pro Football Focus.
It may have looked worse because of the sacks that piled up, including 50 of them in 12-plus games on Carson Wentz, but it certainly wasn't as bad as it seemed.
It was also a position group where plenty of development was achieved, especially for Jordan Mailata and Nate Herbig, as well as rookie Jack Driscoll.
It is a unit that may have some new names and faces next year and the years beyond, but, as of now, the line coach will remain the same. Jeff Stoutland is being brought back for his ninth season in the job.
Here is a closer look at the offensive line:
C: Jason Kelce
LG: Isaac Seumalo
LT: Andre Dillard/Mailata
Others: Jason Peters, Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, Matt Pryor, Sua Opeta, Brett Toth, Ross Pierschbacher, Luke Juriga.
Gone: Peters, Pryor, Opeta.
Notes: Dillard vs. Mailata should be a battle to watch once things ramp up this spring and summer…Herbig will likely shift to a reserve role with the return of Brooks – if Brooks does indeed return - and Herbig will be valuable as a backup interior lineman…Driscoll showed he can be counted on as well after arriving in the fourth round from Auburn last spring and should be better in his second season after a few months of NFL-style weight training.
It is highly unlikely the Eagles spend much of their limited budget on a position group that seems to have a nice blend of very good veterans and some rising talent.
The Eagles have drafted in the top 10 four times since 1999, using two of those picks on quarterbacks and one each on an offensive and defensive lineman.
The draft is considered wide-open, without a clear but top 10 D-lineman, so it’s highly unlikely the Eagles look in this direction on day one.
If Oregon OT Penei Sewell slips to the Eagles’ turn at No. 6, he would likely be the pick, or maybe the Eagles trade back a couple of spots.
More likely, the Eagles could wait until day three of the draft go address the O-line, perhaps content with the pieces they have in place and if they hold onto both Brooks and Johnson.
A center could be in the mix if they do look to the OL because Kelce has flirted with retirement in previous offseasons and he will turn 34 during the season.
If a center is on the radar, some Day Two possibilities could be Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, Georgia’s Trey Hill, Alabama’s Landon Dickerson, Ohio State’s Josh Myers, or Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey.
It’s unlikely, but could Dillard be shopped in a package with Wentz to the Colts? Indy needs a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo, who has opted to retire. Just a thought. And another thought: Could the Eagles try to open a spot for Herbig or Driscoll by parting ways in a deal involving Brandon Brooks or Lane Johnson?
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.