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June 16, 2020

Who will fill in at RG for Eagles with Brandon Brooks out?

Eagles NFL
900922_Eagles_Lions_Matt_Pryor_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Matt Pryor during a game against the Detroit Lions.

As you surely know by now, the Philadelphia Eagles' 2020 injury carnage has already begun, with Brandon Brooks being lost for the season with a torn Achilles. So looking forward, who will be taking over for him as the starter at RG?

In-house options

The most likely scenario, in our view, is that the Eagles will view this as a "next man up" scenario, and a player already on the roster will fill in for Brooks. The Eagles have always been proactive about filling the offensive line pipeline with prospects, so the cupboard isn't completely bare. I would handicap the most likely in-house options in the following order:

Matt Pryor: Pryor is entering his third year in the NFL, and he has been cross-training all along at RG and RT.

As a result of multiple injuries along the offensive line in 2019 (as well as an Andre Dillard benching), Pryor got his first significant taste of action in the NFL, playing RG in the second half of the Week 12 matchup against the Seahawks. He also saw significant action Week 17 against the Giants after Brooks suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, and then finally, he got his first ever start against the Seahawks once again, this time in the playoffs. In total, Pryor played 147 snaps on the season.

In April, we took a detailed look at Pryor's 147 snaps, coming to the conclusion that while his size and power are nice, if he were to have to start multiple games, opposing defensive coordinators would look to put him in situations where he was forced to try to handle speed, and that probably would not go well.

On the bright side, he would be playing in between arguably the best center and the best RT in the NFL, so he would be in a uniquely cushy starting role.

 • Jack Driscoll: Driscoll is a rookie fourth-round pick with experience in college (at UMass and Auburn) at LG and RT. While he has not played RG, he has played on the right side, and he has played guard. Therefore, training at RG should not come as much of a shock to his body the same way it did for Dillard last season, when he played RT for the first time in his life.

Driscoll is sort of an unknown quantity, in that you never really get a sense of what you have until you get players into camp, but based solely on his draft position, he would seemingly be legitimate competition for Pryor. He also offers some intriguing athleticism for a guard.

The concern would be Driscoll's ability to anchor against powerful interior defensive linemen.

Nate Herbig: After signing with the team as an undrafted free agent last year, Herbig spent the entire season on the Eagles' active roster, but he was rarely active on game day. He was trained at center and guard as a rookie.

Sua Opeta: Opeta spent most of the season on the practice squad, but was promoted when another team tried to poach him. Opeta is an interesting prospect, as he is a weight room freak with some intriguing physical measurables:

He would something of a darkhorse contender, in my view.

Luke Juriga: Juriga was a priority undrafted free agent who had a draftable grade. He was being projected at center, but may now also get a shot at guard.

Outside (well, not really outside) options

Jason Peters: Peters may very well sign back with the team, but I don't think it would be a good use of resources to bring him back at whatever he's going to cost to play RG for one season. If Peters comes back, it will be to play LT. And no, I don't view Dillard as an answer at RG either. 

The Eagles have been grooming Pryor, Herbig, and Opeta, having them all occupy roster spots, in addition to drafting Driscoll. Brooks' injury is why you do that. You don't go to all that trouble to overpay a 38-year-old LT who has never played anywhere else along the line to play RG.

Other outside options

Adam Caplan posted the best available interior offensive linemen shortly after Brooks' injury was reported.

Larry Warford: Warford has been to three straight Pro Bowls, but was released by the Saints earlier this offseason in a move that cleared $7 million in cap space. He'll turn 29 on Thursday. I can't say I'm an expert on Warford's game, but if the price is right, sure, I guess. The price likely won't be right, however, and the bet here is that the Eagles will opt to go cheap at RG, which really is the more prudent move.

The rest of the guys on Caplan's list... pass.

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