As we all know, the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line was a huge problem a year ago. They just lost too many pieces to make a playoff run and crumbled down the stretch of the season. The Eagles had to play late round draft picks, inexperienced players, and even had to sign guys off the street just to keep the offensive line going. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans were lost due to injury, and Evan Mathis was the only starter who didn’t get hurt or benched. This showed that the Eagles did not have the depth to prepare for this type of situation.
So should the Eagles worry about depth this year for the offensive line? Absolutely.
The Eagles drafted OT Lane Johnson this past April which will make Herremans slide over to guard and replace the 2011 first round draft pick Danny Watkins who so far has been a disappointment. Now the depth chart should show Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, and Johnson all starting by Week 1 of the regular season. That is a very solid group and arguably the most athletic offensive line in the league.
Now the players behind the starters kind of worry me. The backups will most likely be Watkins, Dennis Kelly, and Dallas Reynolds. All three of these players struggled last season, and if one starter goes down then one of these backups needs to step up. The good thing about the reserves is that they all have at least one year of experience behind them. They all started for a number of games last season and know how the NFL games are played. However, watching these guys on film was awful to see.
Kelly struggled often against quick defensive linemen and was beat consistently at guard and tackle. However, he did get better towards the end of the year and has been taking first team reps this offseason. Kelly should be a decent backup, but I would still worry if he was put into the game because of injury.
Watkins has been a disappointment his whole career. He most certainly will be a backup this season, and chances of him starting are extremely slim. However, I don’t think the Eagles should cut Watkins because he’s probably the best backup the Birds have, but he needs to improve his footwork and technique to slow down opposing linemen to save his roster spot.
Reynolds kind of reminded me of former Eagles’ center and current offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts Mike McGlynn. A few years ago the Eagles lost center Jamaal Jackson and McGlynn had to step in. McGlynn was having the same problems as Reynolds was having, but the Eagles had to deal with it. Reynolds was average at best in the 2012 season and had trouble with line calls. He struggled against one on one blocks and constantly needed help from one of the guards to slow down the defensive lineman. Hopefully Kelce will stay healthy this season because when a center needs help play after play than that means they need two offensive linemen to block one defender which is not good for the ball carrier.
So hopefully the starters can stay healthy, otherwise there will be question marks circling the offensive line once again.