The offensive line was supposed to be a strength but their All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon last March. That left a huge hole that will be filled this season by a player the Eagles weren’t planning on re-signing this offseason: King Dunlap, the only member of the offensive line who wasn’t a starter at his position last season.
Dunlap has been a solid reserve linemen for the Eagles the last couple seasons. He has made spot starts at left and right tackle and left guard. This season he will become a full-time starter as the team’s left tackle.
He is more than capable of handing the position all season long if he stays healthy. He isn’t a Pro Bowl player but he is stable. He doesn’t dominate his man but he more than holds his own.
This season the Eagles will just be hoping he isn’t a liability in pass protection.
At the age of 29, Evan Mathis finally had his breakout year in the NFL. He went from being a journeyman who was thought of as a key backup, to becoming one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. He is physical in the running game, dominant in the screen game and one of the better pass protectors on the line as well. With Peters more than likely out for the season, Mathis will take on an even bigger role this season. One that he should have no problem stepping up to.
Kelce came into to last year’s training camp as a sixth-round draft pick that was just trying to earn a roster spot. Before he could settle in, he was already being worked in as the first team center. He easily beat out veteran center Jamaal Jackson and became the team’s long-term solution at the position.
He isn’t very physical against the run but was outstanding in pass protection and is one of the best centers at blocking upfield on screens and draws. If he gets a little stronger, he should improve as a run blocker and become one of the top centers in the NFL.
Danny Watkins took a while to settle down in the NFL. He didn’t start until Week 5 and was up and down when he became the starter. He did too much thinking and not enough reacting last season. He was trying to soak up a very complicated blocking scheme in his first ever season playing offensive guard.
Six years ago he had never even played organized football. Now he should be much more comfortable as the team’s starting right guard. He demonstrated that in preseason play. He started to show signs of becoming a Pro Bowler.
Herremans was the most valuable lineman on the Eagles roster last season. He was moved over from left guard to right tackle very late in the summer but took no time to transition into his new spot on the line. It allowed the Eagles to start Evan Mathis at left guard and not have to bring in someone else to play right tackle.
Now Herremans is one of the top right tackles in the game and should make the Pro Bowl this season for the first time in his career.
The left tackle position was basically laid out for Demetress Bell this summer, but he had other plans. Bell looked okay during training camp but was horrid during preseason. He has been slow off the snap and looks unsure of who to block and which angle to block them at.
It’s been a tough adjustment for Bell who is playing in a completely different blocking scheme than has ever played in. Some players, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans, for example, picked up on it very quickly. Bell is not one of those players.
Maybe he will catch on later in the season and overtake Dunlap at left tackle. Maybe not. As of right now he might not even be the first left tackle off the bench if Dunlap were to miss any time this season.
Dennis Kelly has really impressed me since preseason started. He is a developmental player at tackle but has looked more like a solid backup option in his rookie season. He is a big, long player at 6’8", 320 pounds. He has played well at both right tackle and left tackle and was also worked in a little bit at right guard. It appears that the Eagles are trying to turn him into the valuable reserve linemen that King Dunlap was last season. That is a great sign for a player that wasn’t a lock to make this roster.
Dallas Reynolds was a surprise for many to see make this roster. His time on the practice squad has expired and he either had to make a 53-man roster or try another football league. He did an okay job as the backup center in preseason and training camp. He is what he is. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling and isn’t a great athlete but he won’t botch many snaps either and is a safe choice as a backup center.
He is the only member of the Eagles offensive line who wasn’t here all summer. Menkin was released from the Houston Texans during final cuts. He is a versatile offensive lineman, capable of playing right tackle and either guard spot.
The biggest question Eagles fans will probably want to know is whether he is a Howard Mudd-type of lineman. Yes! He is a decent athlete who loves to play aggressive with a little bit of a mean streak.
It’s only a matter of time before the Eagles can rely on him as a backup who can fill it at three different spots at any time. He, along with Kelly, could make Demetress Bell expendable by October.
Overall Grade: B
This would be an “A” offensive line with Jason Peters at left tackle. That is the type of impact he makes. Still, this is a good group that has a chance to be great this season.