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.

11 Comments on “Fixing the Eagles O-line”

  1. 1 T_S_O_P said at 2:33 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    “If the Eagles agree with my thinking (which they do way more than 1% of the time)”

    On the other hand, you are uncannily accurate at liking players that the Giants then go on to draft 😮

  2. 2 Tommy Lawlor said at 2:40 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    I have had a strange connection with the Giants in recent years. Must be my love of their blue, blue helmets. I mean, how much more blue could a helmet be? None, none more blue.

  3. 3 Eric said at 2:55 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    I’m very comfident in Justice. I think his problems were definitely health and poor RG play next to him. Tommy, did you notice this at all? On some pressure and sack replays it sure seemed like a lot of the time Justice was trying to overcompensate for Nick Cole just completely messing up his assignment.

    Justice is more of a pass protector anyway. Less mean and more agile. With a left handed QB, it’s more likely you’ll run to the left anyway and that’s where the power players are established.

  4. 4 T_S_O_P said at 3:27 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    How many OL do you think we will draft? At least 2? More?

    In an early mock I drafted Ijalana, Rackley and a late round guy (Lamaak). In another Wiz, Fusco and another low rounder. What are your thoughts? Also, have you seen tape of Byron Stingily?

  5. 5 Ken said at 3:34 PM on April 5th, 2011:


    I find it interesting that you did not mention Mike Pouncey. He is considered by most to be the top interior OL and has the type of athleticism that Mudd likes. Was that a mistake or do you have some beef with him?

    Also, what is your take on improving the OL via FA (assuming there is one eventually). 2 guys I personally have interest in are Jason Spitz and Jared Gaither. Spitz is coming off and injury and doesn’t appear to be in the Packers’ plans. He coudl come in and compete at RG and can play C. Gaitehr is a guy I always felt could be teh best RT in football, but he wants to be a LT. protecting Vick’s blinside may be enough to convince him to embrace the position. So I just wanted you thoughts on those 2 guys and if you think they are realistic Eagles tragets. Thanks.

  6. 6 Jeppe said at 3:53 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    Hi Tommy
    Thanks for answering my Q regarding the draftboard! Do you have any guess as to who the Eagles would like more than other teams? Like the Cowboys having 1st round grade on Lee and 3rd round grade on G A. Davis… Could it be somebody like Ijalana? Or???

  7. 7 mcud said at 6:22 PM on April 5th, 2011:

    +1 to Ken’s questions…

    Thoughts on our new line coaches:

    In the grand scheme of things, I don’t ever like to pass on a player that shouldn’t be there in the draft (i.e. – a guy who you’ve got a 1st round grade on falling into the 2nd), especially if there is a need at the position. However, I’m not terribly excited about the prospect of investing more draft capital on Day 1 or 2 on the OL. Same goes with the DL.

    The things I’ve always read and noticed about Mudd and Wash is their ability to make lemons into lemonade. I’d like to see that here. The whole point of having the elite position coaches is their ability to “coach”, right? I, for one, really want to see what Mudd does with Winston Justice, who has always had outstanding athleticism, but needs somebody to get through to his nasty streak. Same with Bunkley at DT. If the two coaches don’t like players they have, then look to the pro personnel dept first (provided there is a CBA allowing it), before looking to the top part of the draft.

    No, LB and Secondary are where I want investments made, particularly at CB. All I can demand of Mike Zordich is to get 1st round play out of a 1st round player, get me a solid starter out of a 2nd rounder, try to hit more than you miss in the mid-rounds, and score me a solid STer and reserve out the late rounds. I think we need a serious talent infusion at CB, so I want draft pick allocation accordingly.

  8. 8 Jason said at 12:34 AM on April 6th, 2011:

    So I know you are regularly writing about how a Oline prospect can be an LT or a RT in the NFL, but I assume those labels are mostly assuming a right handed QB, correct? With a left handed QB, what do you look for in a LT vs a RT? I imagine it’s not as simple as just reversing the labels when you consider that defenses often put their best pass rusher up against the LT.

  9. 9 DanJ said at 9:24 AM on April 6th, 2011:


    GCOBB has an article up about the Eagles wasting a visit with Ayers visiting, saying that we would never take a linebacker in round 1.
    Do you think that this might be a hint of potential new direction for the defence, or just due dilligence?

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:50 AM on April 6th, 2011:

    I’m not ignoring the questions. I’ll be answering them in the form of today’s post.

    I’m getting some draft notes up on ScoutsNotebook right now.

  11. 11 BJK said at 1:03 PM on April 7th, 2011:

    Sorry – originally filed this question under the wrong post.

    Any chance the Eagles move Herremans from LG to RT? It would likely be easier and cheaper to find a guard rather than a tackle through free agency (Robert Gallery?) or the draft that could come in and play right away. I always thought Herremans looked great at tackle during his rookie year. Also, his skill set seems to fit exactly what Howard Mudd is generally looking for in a tackle.