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January 14, 2015

Eagles offseason positional previews: OL

Birds have talent on line, just not enough of it

Eagles NFL
011415JasonPeters Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Jason Kelce's beard gets all the publicity and supermodels, but Jason Peters' beard is a Hall of Famer too, in my opinion.

Continuing on once again with our offseason team needs series, we'll look at the offensive line, where the Eagles were exposed for a lack of depth in 2014.  We identified OG as the third-most glaring need on the team when we began this series, OT eighth, and C eleventh. Here's what we said:

3) Offensive guard

In May last year, I calculated the average age of every projected starting offensive line in the NFL, and the Eagles were the second oldest. They are particularly old at offensive guard. At the time, Evan Mathis was the oldest projected starting OG in the NFL, and Todd Herremans was the fifth oldest. Mathis will turn 34 during the 2015 season, and Herremans will turn 33. The Eagles liked Matt Tobin quite a bit, although I'm not sure if their opinion of him has changed after he struggled in game action this season. But clearly, it is imperative that the Eagles begin stacking the cupboard behind their aging line with more youth and depth.

8) Offensive tackle

The Eagles are set with Lane Johnson at one tackle spot for the foreseeable future, and although Jason Peters is aging (he turns 33 this month), he is an athletic freak of nature who may play into his mid thirties, a rarity for offensive tackles. However, the Eagles could use quality depth/youth in place to take over for Peters when he can no longer play at a high level.

12) Center

Jason Kelce is among the best centers in the NFL, although he is beginning to compile a history of injuries. If the Eagles found an offensive lineman who can play multiple positions including center, then that would be ideal, but it is unlikely that they will use any kind of valuable resource on a player whose primary position is center.

In 2013, the Eagles' offensive line stayed remarkably healthy. Its five starters - Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, and Lane Johnson - played a combined 98.18% of the offensive snaps. In 2014, those five players combined to play in just 68.62% of the team's snaps, and they were never once on the field at the same time. The lack of OL continuity helped torpedo the Eagles' 2014 season. They need to get add youth and depth to the OL immediately. Here are some guys who make sense in free agency and the draft:

Free agents:

It'll be unlikely for the Eagles to go after any top-tier offensive linemen in free agency, unless they cut either Evan Mathis or Todd Herremans, which both seem unlikely. The Eagles could certainly fill the roster with some free agent offensive linemen who are willing to serve in backup roles, but obviously, those players will not be big names. The Eagles are far more likely to address their OL in the draft. 


Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State (6'6, 308)

Erving has very impressive athleticism and versatility. His career at Florida State began along the defensive line, where he had 20 tackles, a sack, and 2.5 tackles for loss in 2011. The Seminoles moved him to left tackle in 2012, where he immediately became a stud blindside protector. He played LT again in 2013 as well as the beginning of the 2014 season before moving to center. 

Being able to play the two most difficult positions along the OL is extremely impressive. In terms of his fit with the Eagles, Erving could be the type of player who could be a reserve at multiple positions in the short term, and eventually take over at one of the tackle spots once Jason Peters is no longer an elite player.

Here he is shutting down potential top 10 pick Vic Beasley in 2013:

Arie Kouandjio, OG, Alabama (6'5, 315)

Arie's brother Cyrus was drafted by the Bills in the second round of the 2013 draft. Both of the Kouandjio brothers were coached by Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland, so at a minimum, the Eagles will know everything they need know about him from a #culture perspective. Kouandjio is often a dominant run blocker, but like his brother, comes with some injury concerns.

Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (6'5, 300)

Ogbuehi was an elite prospect heading into this season, viewed by many as a potential top 10 overall pick. He played guard his first two years, moved to right tackle last season, and in 2014 he kicked over to left tackle. He's athletically gifted, and versatile. Ogbuehi would be a perfect fit along the Eagles' OL for his versatility, power, and athleticism.

But... He tore his ACL in the Liberty Bowl. D'oh! From the Eagles' perspective, if indeed the OL of Peters-Mathis-Kelce-Herremans-Johnson stays intact, they won't need Ogbuehi to contribute immediately anyway. At the right value, he could be a player that the Eagles can bring along slowly to contribute in 2016.

Ty Sambrailo, OL, Colorado State (6'5, 310)

Colorado State had two offensive players drafted in the top 100 picks last year. The Giants drafted C/OG Weston Richburg 43rd overall, while the Ravens selected TE Crockett Gillmore 99th overall. Sambrailo is almost certain to be a top 100 pick, and more likely a top 50 pick. Sambrailo's strengths are his technique, quickness, and tenacity. He played OT in college, but many believe he'll transition to guard in the pros, which again, makes him the type of versatile offensive lineman the Eagles could use.

Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina (6'8, 344)

Look at the height/weight. "Bigger people beat up little people," and the Eagles have shown in the past that they'll bring in massive offensive line projects with decent athleticism when they signed 6'8, 340 pound Michael Bamiro as a priority undrafted free agent.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski