The Eagles offensive line was amongst the best in the league in 2013, what comes next for Philadelphia with all five starters returning? (Image Courtesy of Fansided.com)
Over the next couple of weeks, Eagledelphia will be addressing the Eagles free agents needs while evaluating producing a position-by-position analysis.
The today’s area to be addressed: Offensive Line.
This just in: The Eagles offensive line is good. Like, really really good. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Eagles offensive line graded out as the 9th best unit in the league. Last year, with their litany of injuries, the Birds graded out at 19th.
Breaking their grade down further, the Eagles pass block graded out as 18th overall, their run and screen blocking was ranked 1st overall, and their disciplinary rank was 19th.
For the Eagles, it is easy to ranked amongst the best offensive lines when they have perhaps the strongest left side in the league. Jason Peters, who came back from two Achilles tears that cost him the entire 2012 season, reclaimed his position as one of the best left tackles in the league. His partner on the left side, Evan Mathis, graded out as the best guard in the league, and has been called by PFF the best offensive lineman in the league.
Mathis won PFF’s inaugural Bruce Matthew’s award, which is awarded to the NFL’s best offensive lineman. Since joining the Eagles in 2010, the Alabama alumnus has failed to record a negative game.
The accolades continued for the Eagles, as Mathis, Peters, and Jason Kelce (fresh off a torn ACL) all were named to PFF’s All-Division team. Both Peters and Mathis also were named to the NFL’s All-Pro first team as well as the Pro Bowl.
On the right side stands first-round pick Lane Johnson, who earned the lowest grade for the line, but was still in the positives (0.2). Johnson went through his rookie doldrums, but finished the season very strong. Next to Johnson stood Todd Herramans, who also returned from an injury-riddled 2013 season.
Herramans is the elder statesman of the Eagles offensive line and also it’s longest tenured player. Although he signed an extension in 2012, he could be asked to take a pay cut while the Birds possibly look for his eventually replacement in the draft.
The main cause for success for the Eagles offensive line was stability. All five starters played and started in all 17 games (including playoffs). Although Peters battled injuries during the season, and did miss some game time, backup tackle Allen Barbre filled in admirably.
The Eagles do not appear as though they will be big players in the offensive line free agent market. Recently, the Birds spent a high draft pick (fourth overall) on Lane Johnson, while also spending money to re-sign All-Pro guard Evan Mathis to a long-term deal and will look to do the same with Peters and Kelce.
Below are a list of offensive lineman the Eagles could be interested in to provide depth behind one of the NFL’s best lines.
1. Eben Britton. The University of Arizona product was selected in the second-round of the 2009 draft by Jacksonville and spent last year with Chicago. He showed versatility while with the Jaguars, as he switched from left tackle in college to right tackle with the Jags. Britton also has limited experience at guard, as Jacksonville attempted to switch his position once more.
2. Mike McGlynn. The former Eagle could return to the nest after stints in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. McGlynn has experience at guard and center. He has started 48 games.
3. Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse has extensively starting experience while starting for Green Bay during their Super Bowl run. Talented, but inconsistent, Newhouse has value as a “swing tackle,” in that he is able to play both tackle spots.
Keep an eye on: The NFL draft. Expect the Eagles to draft a developmental lineman.
Hal Greenblatt covers the Eagles for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @HMGreenblatt