Eagles Trying to ‘figure out’ if Gordon Can Help
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles just committed to Jason Peters through the 2018 season but the search to find the heir apparent for the potential future Hall of Fame left tackle is still on.
The plan since Lane Johnson was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft has always been to eventually move the Oklahoma product over the left side once Peters finally does call it a career.
And while that remains the most likely scenario as evidenced by the fact that Johnson spent his spring holding down left tackle during voluntary work while second-year man Halapoulivaati Vaitai moved in at right tackle while Peters was away.
What you may no have noticed was that fellow sophomore Dillon Gordon was the backup left tackle.
Things got back to normal when Peters arrived for the mandatory minicamp and his eventual extension with Vaitai backing up Johnson on the right side and Gordon staying as the team's reserve LT behind Peters.
To call Gordon the next Peters would be folly but it's hard to ignore the obvious similarities is that Peters was once an undrafted tight end out of Arkansas before turning into one of the most athletic and powerful left tackles of his generation.
Gordon, meanwhile, was also an undrafted, oversized TE at a SEC school in LSU who is now trying to make the same transition at the professional level.
Like Peters, Gordon is extremely light on his feet and he latched on as a rookie by showing the versatility, which began as promise at LT but also included the ability to line up an extra blocker at tight end and even a lead blocker in the backfield.
Where Gordon can't match Peters, however, is functional football strength and that part of it is still a work in progress.
"We are trying to figure all this out right now," offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said when talking about Gordon and his potential. "We're trying to figure out what his value to the organization is based on how he looks in practices and what his production is."
Stoutland wasn't exactly giving away state secrets there and that's what offseason work is about for every young player.
As one former NFL coach told 973espn.com: "The offseason is about teaching and training camp is about evaluation."
Gordon remains a raw prospect at this point but it's clear that the Eagles see something moldable in the clay.
For now, the hope is that Peters and Johnson provide perhaps the best tackle combination in football for 16 games this season while Allen Barbre serves as one of the better game-day swing tackle in the NFL.
Gordon, though, will likely remain on the back end of the Eagles' roster again as the organization tries to get a handle on his "value."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen