Eagles Draft Guide: Addressing an Aging Offensive Line

When looking at the Eagles’ current personnel on the offensive line, age is unquestionably the biggest concern. The Eagles two best linemen, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters, are both 33 years old and entering the twilight of their productive careers. Starting guard Todd Herremans was released by the organization in February, and Chip Kelly seemed to hint at the annual Owners’ Meeting in March that 30 year-old Allen Barbre could possibly be in line to replace Herremans in the upcoming season. While I believe the current offensive line of the Eagles has the potential be one of the best in the NFL in the upcoming season if it can remain healthy, I also believe Philadelphia should look to get younger during the upcoming NFL Draft by adding an offensive lineman. Versatility is a key for Kelly in the arena of offensive linemen, and the third-year head coach has a track record of coveting players who can play both tackle and guard. The Eagles run more tackle-over and unbalanced plays than any other team in the NFL, so drafting a player who understands and is comfortable with moving around is an absolute must. While several of the top offensive linemen are projected to be taken in the first and second rounds, there is also a handful of prospects with above-average size and athleticism who could be attractive targets for the Eagles in the middle and late rounds of the draft.

Let’s take a look at the offensive linemen in this draft and how their skill-sets could translate in the eyes of the Eagles. The notes and projections that go along with each prospect are a mixture of scout consensus and personal observations formed from watching games or film. Players are listed alphabetically. Total offensive linemen listed: 25

A.J. Cann- 6’3 313 lbs.
Notes: Plays with low pad level. Wide base. Moves well to block on screen plays. Recognizes stunts well. Poor at times when attempting to block at the second level. Needs to improve initial punch. Needs to be more disciplined with outside hand.
Projection: Early second round

T.J. Clemmings- 6’5 309 lbs.
Notes: Plus athleticism for position. Plus foot quickness. Strong hands that can stun edge rushers. Strong finisher of blocks. Still raw. Needs improvement in advancing to the second level. Can get down on himself if he gets beat.
Projection: Late first round

La’el Collins- 6’4 305 lbs.
Notes: Strong hands. Plus pass protector. Technically proficient. Can likely play guard or tackle. Struggles to bring hips during blocks at times. Below average speed and agility for an offensive linemen. Plays high too often. If he is available, Collins will be the best offensive linemen on most big boards when the Eagles pick in the first round. Collins has visited with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: First round

lael collins
LSU’s La’el Collins may be the best available offensive linemen if the Eagles keep pick 20 in the first round.

Cameron Erving- 6’5 313 lbs.
Notes: One of the more interesting offensive line prospects in the draft. Irving was named an All-ACC player at two different positions after swapping from offensive tackle to center towards the end of the 2014 season. Quick feet. Plus ability as a run blocker. Natural timing and strength with hands. Above average first step quickness. Above average as a second level blocker. Lacks leg power. Tends to absorb blocks in pass protection and needs to develop a better punch. Irving could play center, guard or tackle in the NFL.
Projection: Late first round

Jake Fisher- 6’6 306 lbs.
Notes: Elite quickness for an offensive linemen. Exceptional as a zone blocker. Wide base. Plus ability to advance to second level defenders. Penalized far too often. Outside hand is often too wide in pass protection. Has a tendency of catching pass rushers instead of punching. Missed games in 2014 due to a leg injury. If the Eagles are targeting an offensive lineman with their first round pick, it will almost certainly be Fisher. The former Oregon player would likely initially projects as a guard in Chip Kelly’s system. The long-term hope would be to transition Fisher to left tackle once Jason Peters retires. Oregon and Pac-12 connection is obviously notable.
Projection: Late first round

jake fisher
Jake Fisher’s athleticism and experience in Oregon’s offense makes him an intriguing early-round prospect for the Eagles.

Ereck Flowers- 6’6 329 lbs.
Notes: Carries weight with ease. Run game mauler. Quick feet. Plays low and with leverage. Will improve as zone blocker in the NFL. Below average pass blocker. Footwork is sloppy at times. Hand placement needs work. Can be beaten by fast pass rushers.
Projection: Late first round

Rob Haventstein- 6’7 321 lbs.
Notes: Plays to his size. Takes good angles on blocks. Feet are quicker than expected. Aggressive as a block finisher. Lateral quickness is below average. Too stiff.
Projection: Fourth round

Sean Hickey- 6’5 309 lbs.
Notes: I am perhaps more bullish on Hickey. Strong prospect that played tackle while at Syracuse but likely projects as a guard in the NFL. Plays with good leverage. Below average as a second-level run blocker. Hands are too wide often in pass protection. Can add some weight and strength to his upper body when he enters the NFL. If the Eagles choose to wait until the middle of the draft to select an offensive linemen, Hickey could be a target. Unlike Jake Fisher, I believe Hickey is best suited to remain at guard throughout his career.
Projection: Fifth round

D.J. Humphries- 6’5 307 lbs.
Notes: Always plays through whistle. Plus flexibility for frame. Quick feet. Struggles at times against moving targets as a run blocker. Plays too high at times as a pass blocker.
Projection: First round

Tre Jackson- 6’4 330 lbs.
Notes: Plus strength for an offensive linemen. Uses leverage well. Recovers well when beaten in run game. Will likely need to lose weight in the NFL. Below average in space. Inconsistent 2014 season.
Projection: Third round

Arie Kouandjio- 6’5 310 lbs.
Notes: Plus hand power. Long arms and knows how to use them to redirect defenders. Very stiff in upper body. Poor athleticism. Below average at using leverage as a run blocker.
Projection: Fourth round

Ali Marpet- 6’4 307 lbs.
Notes: Good foot quickness. Elite ability to play low. Perhaps best hand placement of any offensive linemen in the draft in both run and pass blocking. Concerns include level of competition in college while at Hobart as well as having short legs. Will likely be asked to gain wait in the NFL.
Projection: Third round

Josue Matias- 6’5 309 lbs.
Notes: Long arms. Excellent cut blocker. Plus ability to block at the second level. Intelligent player who recognizes defensive line stunts. Lacks desirable power. Does not move particularly well in space. Slow to recover when beaten in pass protection.
Projection: Fifth round

John Miller- 6’2 303 lbs.
Notes: Plus upper body strength. Powerful hands. Plus ability to mirror in pass protection. Rotated between both guard positions during games while at Louisville. Plays with poor leverage. Below average pass protector.
Projection: Fourth round

Cedric Ogbuehi- 6’5 306 lbs.
Notes: Elite athleticism for an offensive linemen. Good foot quickness. Elite ability as a second level run blocker. Well-conditioned. Below average strength for an offensive linemen. Often plays too high. Pass protecting against bigger pass rushers is a major concern.
Projection: Early second round

Andrus Peat- 6’7 313 lbs.
Notes: Moves well for frame. Good kick step. Reacts well to defensive line stunts. Has a tendency to get shocked against a fast edge rusher. Technique breaks down if he gets beat off the snap. Needs to progress to second level quicker in NFL.
Projection: First round

Terry Poole- 6’5 307 lbs.
Notes: Hand placement in run game is excellent. Limited athletically. Above average ability to recover when beaten. Slow first kick-slide in pass protection. Almost certainly projects as a guard in the NFL. Poole has visited with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Seventh round

Jeremiah Poutasi- 6’5 335 lbs.
Notes: Above average footwork in pass protection. Above average punch power. Better feet than expected for someone his size. Poor strength and flexibility. Needs to improve as a finisher of blocks. Struggles at times against inside moves. Poutasi has visited with and has worked out for the Eagles prior to the draft. Like Sean Hickey, Poutasi could be a day-three target for the Eagles.
Projection: Fifth round

Jeremiah Poutasi
The Eagles have shown interest in Utah offensive linemen Jeremiah Poutasi leading up to the draft.

Ty Sambrailo- 6’6 311 lbs.
Notes: Plus athleticism for an offensive linemen. Plus hand placement in pass blocking. Above average at finishing blocks. Will likely be asked to gain weight in the NFL. Needs work as a run blocker. Below average strength for an offensive linemen.
Projection: Fourth round

Brandon Scherff- 6’5 319 lbs.
Notes: Elite strength and power. Prototypical power run blocker that uses hips and legs. Fluid lateral mover for size. Relies on strength instead of technique a little too much. Can improve on finishing blocks. Unrealistic option for the Eagles at pick 20.
Projection: Early first round

Austin Shepherd- 6’4 315 lbs.
Notes: Plus ability as a lateral mover. Effective mirroring in pass protection. Strong hands that can redirect pass rushers. Narrow base at times. Above average strength for an offensive linemen. Lower body is stiff.
Projection: Sixth round

Donovan Smith- 6’6 338 lbs.
Notes: Plus strength. Above average footwork for frame. Plus ability as a play-side zone blocker. Below average athlete for an offensive tackle. Slow playing instincts. Below average at finishing blocks. Could improve as a second-level run blocker. Intriguing prospect who could convert to guard in the NFL. Smith’s athleticism could make him a value pick for the Eagles during the second day of the draft, but they would likely need to trade up in the second round in order to select him. Smith has visited with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Second round

Tyrus Thompson- 6’5 324 lbs.
Notes: I am bullish on Thompson. Plus athleticism for an offensive linemen. Moves well in pass protection. Quick feet for frame. Biggest concern is laziness. Below average finisher of blocks. Too often plays with poor technique. Thompson needs to work on his motor, but his athleticism and size should make him an option for the Eagles on the third day of the draft.
Projection: Fourth round

Laken Tomlinson- 6’3 323 lbs.
Notes: Plays low at all times. Intelligent player who can adjust to defensive line stunts. Zero sacks allowed in the past two seasons. Likely more suited for a power running game. Below average athlete for an offensive linemen.
Projection: Late second round

Daryl Williams- 6’5 327 lbs.
Notes: Plus physicality for an offensive linemen. Powerful hands. Exceptional down blocker. Elite work ethic. Below average athleticism. Needs to improve lateral movement. Body control and agility need improvement.
Projection: Fifth round

Putting it all together: Predicting when the Eagles may target an offensive linemen in the upcoming draft is a daunting task. While some experts have recently projected Philadelphia to take either La’el Collins or Jake Fisher in the first round of the draft, I personally believe the Eagles should and will hold off until the mid-to-late rounds to select an offensive linemen. While Cedric Ogbuehi, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet could certainly be a plausible targets for the Eagles in the second and third rounds, I think Chip Kelly waits until the final day of the draft before targeting (in order): Sean Hickey, Tyrus Thompson, Jeremiah Poutasi or Terry Poole.

On deck: Is the clock already ticking for Marcus Smith in Philadelphia? A look at the edge rushers in the upcoming draft.

Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII

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