Thursday, March 04, 2010

Eagles off-season: OL

Well, with free agency approaching tomorrow, it certainly doesn't appear like I'll get through all the position groups before then. I'm having fun with this series, though, so I'll probably continue it through the opening of free agency. So instead of inaccurate predictions, you'll get uninformed analysis instead. Seems like a wash to me.

The Eagles OL was mediocre last season, and then devolved into a complete disaster the last two games. Part of it was the injury to center Jamaal Jackson, but some of it was simply physical dominance on the part of the Cowboys. The OL disintegration played no small part in the Eagles firing of their strength and conditioning coach shortly after the season.

With the Andrews sisters both drawing high salaries without any performance to back it up, I wouldn't be surprised if they both end up cut. But even if they remain on the roster, you can't count on them for anything. Without them, the OL looks pretty shoddy, both in starting quality and depth. Peters, Herremans, and Jackson (if healthy) make up a pretty solid left side. Peters needs to improve his performance, but I think another year in the Eagles program will accomplish that. But the right side - Nick Cole and Winston Justice - is simply mediocre. Cole is a RFA who should get a 1st-round tender, and he's a passable starter, but really should be a depth player. The Eagles best back-up tackle is King Dunlap, who's shown absolutely nothing when he's on the field, and their best back-up guard is Max Jean-Gilles, who hasn't developed at all beyond a promising rookie season.

When you consider that Jamaal Jackson won't be cleared to practice again until mid-August with his torn knee, it really starts to look rocky. The Eagles need several players to shore up this position.

I'd start with Hank Fraley, just released by the Browns today. A 10-year vet who started as the Eagles center for several seasons, he can step right in and play until Jackson is ready. He'll also provide depth at both guard positions. While I love the Eagles pick-up of A.Q. Shipley out of PSU, I'm not ready to count on him right away. A veteran presence who knows the offense is the perfect fit.

On top of that, we need a tackle in the draft. Someone who can at least challenge Dunlap for the back-up job, and hopefully beat him out for it. The Eagles have had success with mid-round draft picks on the OL, and it's definitely something they should consider again, unless one of the top tackles falls into their lap in the first round.


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