Fixing the Eagles O-line

Posted: April 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 11 Comments »
Could Mike McGlynn shift over to RG?

Could Mike McGlynn shift over to RG?


Every time I start to do a mock draft for the Eagles I have to really figure out a plan for the offensive line.  We know there are OL issues, but exactly what are they.  We discussed this issue before, but not much else is happening so touching on the subject once again is worth doing.

I virtually never project a RT to the Eagles in the 1st round.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  Are we really going to trust a rookie to protect Mike Vick’s blind side?  I know Winston Justice played poorly in the playoff game.  2 reminders…he had a bad knee and he was facing Clay Matthews a lot.  I don’t think you can ignore those factors when assessing the situation.

I stand by my previous contention that the best way to help the OL is by shoring up RG.  That helps the C and RT and could stabilize the whole line.  Stability is a nice word most of the time, but it is manna from Heaven in reference to the OL.

Right now we’re projecting Jamaal Jackson to return and reclaim his job as starting Center.  Mike McGlynn filled in admirably, but JamJax has played at a high level in the past.  He had virtually a whole season to rest and get healthy.  He shouldn’t have any issues going into 2011, as long as he can remember how to snap and who to block.

I’m penciling in McGlynn at RG.  I have no idea if Andy Reid and Howard Mudd agree with me.  I think Mike is a very good fit for Mudd and his style.  I think Mike could be a very good G.  He’s got the size, athleticism, and nasty demeanor to handle the job.  We did put a tender on Max Jean-Gilles so that shows a level of interest in having him come back for another year.  I don’t think Max is the kind of guy Mudd ideally would like, but Max has proven to be a capable backup in the past.  He knows the playbook.  There is a value to guys like him, even if the fit isn’t ideal.  Max initially projects to be the top backup G.  However, should JamJax get hurt and McGlynn has to slide back to C, Max could find himself starting once again.  He gives us good depth, but likely isn’t part of the long term plans.

If the Eagles agree with my thinking (which they do way more than 1% of the time), they’ll focus on RG.  There are no players in the 1st round that project to the inside.  All of the top OTs are really big guys that don’t make as much sense as interior blockers.  Todd Herremans has been a good RG at 6-6, but generally you want guys to be 6-4 or shorter.  The taller a guy is, the harder it is for him to play with good leverage, which can be a problem with DTs that are 6-1 and 6-2.

There are players in the 2nd round who I’m sure the Eagles are targeting:

Danny Watkins
Stefen Wisniewski
Clint Boling

The Eagles could also have high grades on these players, but I personally don’t see them as 2nd rounders:

Rodney Hudson
Will Rackley
John Moffitt

All 6 guys make a lot of sense in one way or another, but getting one of the top 3 should be a focal point for the Eagles.  Those guys have the size, ability, experience, and versatility to make them players who could contribute right away.

Watkins and Boling have started at OT in college.  They could help at RG or RT.  Wiz played G and C.  He could offer depth at both spots.  Some people think Watkins could play C in the NFL.  Wiz and Boling both started a ton of games at football powers and have NFL pedigree.  Watkins is a 2-year starter from Baylor and has a limited football background, but he’s 27 years old.  He’s got a physical and emotional maturity that should help him adjust quickly to life in the NFL.

I’m not counting on the rookie RG to start in 2011.  He is there as insurance, in case injuries hit and we have to shuffle players around.  We also have to think long term.  JamJax isn’t young.  If McGlynn is the C of the future then we need someone as the RG of the future.   By taking a RG prospect high in the draft, you increase the likelihood that he could contribute in 2011 if needed.

I do want the Eagles to add a RT in the mid to late rounds to challenge Justice in the future, depending on what Howard Mudd thinks of Austin Howard and King Dunlap.  If Mudd thinks either guy could be a good starter in his system, then adding a T might not make a lot of sense.   If Mudd isn’t as high on them, then finding a T prospect he likes is important.

We could just go after a mid-to-late round guy that has G/T potential.  That versatility would give him added value for the future.  When we think of combo players Ben Ijalana has to come up.  He was a LT at Villanova, but could play G or either T spot in the NFL.  I think he’ll go in the early part of the 2nd round.  We’d have to trade back or move up to get a realistic chance at him.

Of course, we could always go sign Shawn Andrews for added depth at RG and RT.  Oh wait, hell hasn’t frozen over yet.  Better stick with the draft.

* * * * *

Someone asked yesterday whether the Eagles could have 1st round grades on some players who might be available in the 2nd round.  Sure, absolutely.

Winston Justice was the Eagles 9th rated player overall in 2006.  We drafted him in the 2nd round.  We got Chris Gocong in the early 3rd.  He was graded as a 2nd rounder.  We got MJG in the early 4th.  He was graded as a 2nd rounder.

The 1st round of the NFL draft has about 15-20 unanimous guys.  Beyond that, things get very different.  The Colts always do odd things.  The Raiders do some really crazy things.  The Bears have been known to make surprise picks. The Vikings used to have regular head-scratchers.  Enough teams making odd picks in the late 1st and on means that other players will slide down the board.

Teams have whittled a list of 1500-2000 prospects down to about 150.  You can bet there will be some very different grades on players.