The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line was arguably their biggest Achilles heel last season between injuries, inconsistent play and a lack of depth. Michael Vick takes part of the blame for last season due to inconsistent play but the fact is he was running for his life much of the time due to a completely porous offensive line.
The Eagles have taken all the steps possible to make sure they won’t get into a dire situation along the line like they did last season first in the drafting of Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma. At 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 303 pounds, Lane Johnson is an incredible athlete setting records at the combine for linemen by running a 4.71 faster than the likes of Anquan Boldin who is a wide receiver and having a vertical of 34 inches. In other words, the big fella can really move. Johnson is the perfect fit in Chip Kelly’s offense which is up-tempo and wants to run a play every 14 or 15 seconds. Johnson is used to this pace as the Sooners played an up-tempo style when he was in college. Johnson may have to learn little nuances of the game such as angles and positioning which will be fine-tuned by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but once he does his ceiling is limitless. I think he has the potential to be the best lineman out of this entire draft.
Another reason for optimism in the trenches for the Eagles is the return from injury of key pieces Todd Herremans, Jason Kelce, and most importantly arguably the best left-tackle in football Jason Peters. When the Eagles lost Peters last season before the first snap of the season, it probably signaled the beginning of the end. He is just too important for protecting the quarterback’s blind side and frankly, former Eagle Demetress Bell did a terrible job filling in for him. With Peters back and fully healthy, Herremans kicking back inside to guard, Kelce back commanding the line at center, and the drafting of Johnson to slide in on Day 1 at right tackle the Eagles have solidified the critical offensive line unit. They also have solid depth in Dennis Kelly a swing tackle who showed promise last year and Danny Watkins a former first-round pick who still needs to get his game back on track but could thrive in the right system.
The Eagles and Coach Kelly believe they cannot only have a good offensive line this season but a great one. Something crucial if Kelly’s running game, which he heavily relies on, wants to hit the ground running and if the Quarterback wants to have any chance of success in this offense. The offensive line was a disaster at times last season and a real weakness on a ball club that wants to have playoff aspirations every year. The Eagles believe they have turned it into a strength.