Eagles Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you would like to boil down the Eagles' Super Bowl success to its most condensed form, you will arrive at two things: MVP-level quarterback play and strength up front on both sides of the football.Philadelphia's offensive line was arguably the NFL's best, spearheaded by a right side that featured All-Pro tackle Lane Johnson and Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks next to another All-Pro in center Jason Kelce.
If future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters doesn't go down with a torn ACL in Week 7 against Washington, it's likely that 80 percent of the O-Line would have received either All-Pro or Pro-Bowl recognition for the 2017 season with the so-called runt of the litter being versatile veteran guard Stefen Wisniewski, a cerebral player who understands his part in Jeff Stoutland's blocking schemes.
While vilified at times now third-year tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in for Peters and while obviously a downgrade, by definition the TCU product proved he was good enough to win with when Doug Pederson and Co. lofted the Lombardi Trophy in Minneapolis back in February.
CONTINUITY IS KEY
Continuity is always important when talking about any O-Line and the Eagles will return all five starters with Vaitai moving back to the role of game-day swing tackle and insurance in case Father Time finally catches up with the 36-year-old Peters.
The interior backup situation and is bolstered by Wisniewski's ability to play center, a position he was a long-time starter at for both Oakland and Jacksonville, while Chance Warmack, a former top-10 pick in Tennessee, remains a favorite of Stoutland dating back to their days together at the University of Alabama.
Isaac Seumalo, a 2016 third-round pick, disappointed as a starter at LG last season before being benched for Warmack and then Wiz but the Eagles do like his versatility as a backup because he can play every position on the line and even as an extra tight end in 13 personnel.
The final year of Seumalo's rookie deal is looming in 2019, however, so he could be a potential trade chip in August if Howie Roseman needs a roster spot for a player like Matt Pryor, the massive 6-foot-7, 332-pound sixth-round pick who was used at both right guard and right tackle in the spring.Speaking of massive, that has to lead us to 6-8, 366-pound seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata, the ex-Australian rugby player trying to make a transition that is bigger than the man himself. Mailata played exclusively at left tackle in the spring and is a long-term project with a redshirt year on the practice squad likely the plan for 2018.
Taylor Hart is still trying to make his own transition from defensive line to the O-Line but with Johnson, Vaitai and Pryor around with the ability to play RT this could be the end of the line for the former Chip Kelly favorite.
Of the developmental types keep your eye in undrafted free agents Toby Weathersby and Aaron Evens. Weathersby isn't the best athlete in the world but started a lot of games at LSU and could develop into a swing tackle option while Evans, a Central Florida product, has some versatility and has already developed a reputation as being a good teammate by helping Mailata along in his NFL journey.
LT1 Jason Peters - Future Hall of Famer coming off a torn ACL.
LG1 Stefen Wisniewski - Versatile who veteran who can provide competent play anywhere on the interior.
OC1 Jason Kelce - Can Kelce repeat his career year? Was best OC in football last season.
RG1 Brandon Brooks - Definition of a road-grader. Maybe the most underrated OG in football who has overcome his anxiety issues.
RT1 Lane Johnson - The best RT in football who shut down a murderer's row of pass rushers last season.
SWING TACKLE Halapoulivaati Vaitai - Proved to be more comfortable as a LT than a RT.
IL2 Chance Warmack - A Stoutland favorite who has never lived up to his Alabama reputation.
IL3 Isaac Seumalo - Other than versatility nothing stands out.
ON THE BUBBLE:
RG3/RT4 Matt Pryor - Should provide solid depth on the right side.
RT3 Taylor Hart - Might be the end of the road for the former defensive lineman.
PRACTICE SQUAD HOPEFULS:
LT3 Jordan Mailata - Greener than the grass at the NovaCare Complex.
IL5 Darrell Greene - Once a priority UDFA, hasn't progressed much.
IL6 Aaron Evans - Has already been identified as a good teammate for helping Mailata.
OC3 Jon Toth - If Seumalo gets moved could factor in as a backup OC.
OC4 Ian Park - Slippery Rock product is probably not the next Brandon Fusco.
RT5 Toby Weathersby - Was more than competent in college football's toughest conference
OL POSITION GRADE: 9.0
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen