Can the Eagles O-line Rebound in 2021?
The Philadelphia Eagles landed just outside the top 10 in Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings heading into the 2021, but if the unit can stay healthy, you can expect the line to be much improved this season.
While Philadelphia comes in at just No. 13 on the list. However, its an improvement from their No. 20 ranking at the end of the 2020 season.
Their top rated offensive lineman returns for the 2021 season, right guard Brandon Brooks, had a grade of 92.8 during the 2019 season — making him the highest rated right guard in the NFL that season.
Right guard Brandon Brooks returns after missing all of 2020, an unfortunate injury after he was the highest-graded guard in the league in 2019 (92.8). If he’s back to form, the Eagles get one of the best pass-protecting guards to shore up the middle of their line.
Next to Brooks is the returning Lane Johnson, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury. However, when healthy, Johnson is routinely one of the top right tackles in football and his return should give the Eagles one of the top right sides in football.
Right tackle Lane Johnson consistently ranks among the best at his position, though his 71.9 grade in 2020 was the lowest of his career. Johnson is normally a dominant run blocker and a solid pass protector, and he’s graded out at 80.0-plus in five of his eight NFL seasons.
However, Johnson had his lowest-graded season in 2020, where he earned a 71.9 grade when he did play.
At center, PFF touts Jason Kelce as one of the best in the business the past few years, though he saw a dip in his performance in 2020, grading out at 69.6 last season.
Center Jason Kelce has been the highest-graded center over the past few years, but his 69.6 overall grade in 2020 ranked 11th. It was his lowest grade since his rookie 2011 season.
His possible replacement, Landon Dickerson, was the top-graded run-blocker in college last season and the top overall center in the nation last season. Injuries have been an issue, but the Eagles hope to have Dickerson healthy enough to play if needed this season.
But perhaps the Eagles are looking to the future with second-round pick Landon Dickerson. He has injury concerns, but he topped all college centers in run-blocking grade last season and earned the top grade among centers in the draft class.
"We're hoping that our five starting offensive linemen play every snap, so in that case, he wouldn't play at all," explained Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman. "But certainly, injuries happen in this game, and when he's cleared and ready to play, obviously we have a lot of confidence in Landon Dickerson."
The biggest question is, can Jordan Mailata be the key to Philadelphia's offensive line success this season. Though he had solid 2020 campaign, ranking as the No. 13 rated run-blocking tackles in football, holding his own with a 70.3 overall grade, he has the least amount of experience of the five starters with just 10 games under his belt.
The other intriguing player is Jordan Mailata, a 2018 seventh-rounder who played rugby and is still a baby in football years. Mailata was forced into action and held his own with a 70.3 overall grade last season, including the 13th-highest percentage of positively graded run blocks among tackles.
If he can improve on that 70.3 number, the Eagles could have landed their left tackle for years to come.
There is a lot of uncertainty, the ceiling is very high if this unit can stay together, they have the talent to be one of the very best in the NFL.
“The Eagles could rank anywhere by the end of the season, but if their veterans stay healthy and avoid declines, this has the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the league once again.” writes PFF senior NFL analyst Steve Palazzolo.