When you bring in a coaching legend like Howard Mudd to coach your offensive line, you have to give him the players to run his scheme. The Eagles have completely changed up their line to fit his blocking scheme. The days of overweight and slow-moving 350 pound linemen are over. Mudd likes his linemen to be lean and athletic but have a certain intensity level to push back stronger and more athletic linemen backwards.
Jason Peters is the lone Eagle to keep his spot from a year ago at left tackle.
Left guard will be manned by former Cincinnati Bengal Even Mathis. Mathis had only made 22 starts in 58 career games in his eight-year career, but he fits the mold for what Mudd wants. He is a good nasty streak and is a versatile lineman. He will benefit from blocking next two an All Pro in Jason Peters.
The center spot is still not officially decided yet, but it appears that rookie Jason Kelce has beat out veteran Jamaal Jackson. Jackson has suffered season ending surgeries in back to back seasons, but looks healthy in 2011. Jackson is more of a Juan Castillo type of lineman at 325 pounds, while Kelce is clearly a Mudd guy at 280 pounds.
Kelce was the Eagles' sixth round draft pick out of Cincinnati. He was thought to be too small to be an effective lineman and was passed up by several teams, but he has gone from an unwanted rookie to a starting center for a Super Bowl contender. Not bad for his first four weeks on the job.
Danny Watkins has locked up the right guard spot in his rookie season already. Watkins is another athletic lineman with a real nasty streak. He has only been playing organized football for four years, but he is obviously a very quick learner. He should thrive under coach Mudd even if he has some early struggles as a rookie.
Todd Herremans has been moved to right tackle. He was moved to right tackle in practice on Saturday, just two days after the third preseason game. Herremans is an ideal right tackle despite playing the majority of his career at left guard. At 6'6" 320, Herremans has the ideal size and athleticism to play tackle.
The Eagles went into 2011 with the hope that Winston Justice would be the starting right tackle, but he is behind schedule with his rehab on his knee and probably won't be ready to the start of the season. Ryan Harris was brought in from Denver to compete for the right tackle spot but has been unable to stay healthy since the first preseason game against the Ravens. Harris will be either cut or put on the PUP list, making him ineligible until Week 8.
King Dunlap started the last two weeks at right tackle and did a good job there, but protecting Michael Vick's blindside is too important to give to a player who has been very inconsistent in his career. Dunlap will be a key reserve in 2011.
Jamaal Jackson will be the backup center most likely, unless Howard Mudd believes that Kelce isn't ready to start.
Winston Justice should be headed for the PUP list as well. The Eagles could make a decision on what to do with Justice after their bye week in Week 7. If he is healthy and Herremans struggles at right tackle, they could move Herremans back to left guard and start Justice at right tackle.
Reggie Wells was signed on August 20 and could make the team as a backup guard. Wells spent 2010 with the Eagles as well, but never saw much action.
Julian Vandervelde, the Eagles fifth round draft choice last April, will also make the team as a backup guard. Vandervelde fits the Howard Mudd mold at guard and could develop into a start in another year or two at left guard.