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July 07, 2024

Eagles 2024 training camp preview: Offensive tackle

Even while playing opposite a future Hall of Famer, Jordan Mailata is having a stellar career of his own so far.

Eagles NFL
Jordan-Mailata-Eagles-Bills-11.26.2023-NFL.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles OT Jordan Mailata

Over the next couple of weeks (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp. Today we'll look at the offensive tackles.

Previous training camp previews

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end

First, the depth chart: 

 LTJordan Mailata  Fred Johnson Anim Dankwah
 RTLane Johnson Darian Kinnard 
Le'Raven Clark

*To note, Mekhi Becton filled in at RT for an absent Lane Johnson with the first-team offense during OTAs, but because he'll have a chance to compete with Tyler Steen for the starting RG job, we'll put him with the guards.

Lane Johnson

Johnson was named an All-Pro for the third straight season in 2023, and he made his fifth Pro Bowl in seven years. He remained an elite right tackle, who not only definitively won his matchups on a week-to-week basis, but did so without help, as always.

When Johnson was forced to exit the Eagles' Week 6 loss to the Jets, Eagles fans got their occasional reminder of how irreplaceable he is, as Jack Driscoll got wrecked the rest of the day by Jets edge rushers and the offense simply didn't look the same.

And yet, Johnson's play fell off a bit last season, his 11th in the NFL. Over the last half-decade plus, Johnson has been conservatively a top 15-20 type of player in the NFL, in my opinion, despite his gross lack of recognition as such from national media outlets. While still great, he was not a top 20 kind of player in 2023.

In the locker room after the Eagles' playoff loss to the Buccaneers, Johnson, who turned 34 in May, said that he thinks he has "a few good years left," immediately putting to bed any speculation that he might retire this offseason.

The Eagles have a consistent history of putting succession plans in place years in advance along the offensive line, and the 2024 draft happened to be loaded at offensive tackle in the first round. However, they drafted cornerbacks with each of their first two picks, putting off a successor to Johnson at least another year, perhaps indicating that the team believes that Johnson will indeed play at least a couple more seasons. 

Jordan Mailata

On an offensive line with two future Hall of Famers, I thought Mailata was quietly stellar in 2023, both in the run game and in pass protection. He was deserving of Pro Bowl recognition, but didn't get in. As we have seen, his career path has followed a steady upward trajectory, and he has also been durable, missing just three games due to injury over the last three seasons. He is also young, relative to the highest-earning offensive tackles in the NFL, as he just turned 27 in March. 

Mailata agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $66 million in April. That was a bit out of the ordinary, given that Mailata still had two years left on his previous contract. The $22 million per year is based on the new money in this deal, which again, is a contract extension on top of the two years Mailata already had left. When the extension actually begins in 2026, it will be interesting to see where Mailata's deal ranks among offensive tackles at that time.

The Eagles — and other teams around the league for that matter — don't often do new deals with players who have two years left on their contracts. They'll make exceptions if the player is willing to leave a whole lot of earning potential on the table, as I believe Mailata and his representation did here. By comparison, Landon Dickerson scored a $21 million per year deal this offseason at a far less important position. He had one year left on his deal.

Mailata's previous deal was worth $16 million per year, plus incentives. A $6 million per year raise is nice, by why lock that in now, when the salary cap is expected to continue to rise substantially?

Maybe the difference between $22 million per year and, say, (I'll just spitball here) $25-$28 million per year down the road is negligible to Mailata? If so, good for him! But this was a no-brainer deal for the Eagles, locking in a core player at one of the most important positions in football at a very reasonable cost through 2028.

Fred Johnson

There's usually one surprise player to make the roster at 53-man cutdowns, and in 2023 it was a Johnson, who has bounced around the league with the Steelers, Bengals, and Buccaneers, before landing with the Eagles.

Johnson played on special teams in all 17 games in 2023, though he only appeared in the regular offense in two of them. Both games were garbage time blowouts against the Cowboys and Giants.

Darian Kinnard

Kinnard was a Chiefs fifth-round selection in 2022. He made the 53-man roster as a rookie, but was a scratch for 17 games, and active for just three. He appeared in one game, getting 6 special teams snaps. 

Kinnard did not make the 53-man roster out of training camp in 2023, and spent the entirety of the season on the Chiefs' practice squad.

We profiled Kinnard in our prospects series in 2021. He had experience at LT and RT (mostly RT) in college at Kentucky, but the thinking then was that talent evaluators would have to decide if he was going to be a RT or a RG at the pro level. The Chiefs tried to develop him at OT, and the Eagles announced him as an OT, so I suppose he's staying there.

Anim Dankwah

Dankwah is a mammoth offensive tackle at 6'8, 353:

I'll let Lance Zierlein do the heavy lifting here: 

Decorated left tackle with extremely rare size, mass and length. Dankwah is a human wall with the ability to grind and drive opponents off their turf once he's centered up and has his legs driving. He moves with adequate initial quickness but will struggle to redirect his weight to make blocks on the move or to recover against quick inside rush counters. Dankwah is too tall to play guard and might not have the lateral quickness to protect the passer at an acceptable level. However, size and power matter to NFL teams, and there is enough on tape for a general manager to invest a late-round pick in him.

Dankwah is probably a multi-year project likely to spend the 2024 season on the practice squad.

Le'Raven Clark

Clark was on the Eagles' roster in 2021 and 2022. He appeared in four games for the Eagles in 2021, with one start.

After a couple of quick stints with the Titans and Steelers, he signed with the Eagles' practice squad last season, and then in January signed a futures contract. 

Clark was place on IR in May, and was on a roll-a-bout during spring practices. I'd reach out to Eagles PR to ask what happened to him, but I'm writing this on July 4th, and don't want to bother anyone about Le'Raven Clark while they're trying to have a beer and a hot dog.

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