It has just been reported by Derrick Gunn of NBC Sports Philadelphia, that Eagles RG Brandon Brooks has torn his right achilles. This is an absolutely devastating blow to one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. This article will take a look at the avaliable options.
1) Free Agency
The top 3 guards in free agency include
- Larry Warford (3-Time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints)
- Ronald Leary (Former Cowboys and Broncos guard
- Josh Kline (Former Patriots, Titans and Vikings guard)
Warford is the best of the bunch from this list. He made the pro-bowl in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with the Saints. He was released this offseason. It would make sense for the Eagles to sign Warford on paper, however looking deeper into the situation, Warford doesn’t make a lot of sense. This is because of the lack of speed/athleticism he offers. According to SI, one of the main reasons, the Saints released Warford was because of his weight and conditioning. Considering what the Eagles ask of their offensive linemen with them running screens, counters and having a lot of plays in which they ask their offensive linemen to pull and get out in space and block downfield, the fit just isn’t there in my opinion.
After signing with the Denver Broncos, Ronald Leary started 11 games in 2017 and ended the year on injured reserve. Leary started six games in 2018 and ended the year on injured reserve with a torn achilles. He then started 12 games in 2019 and missed the final four with an injury. He also graded out with an overall 58.4 overall rating according to PFF.
Josh Kline may be the best option for the team if Howie Roseman decides to go the free agent route. He had an above average 2019 with the Vikings in which he posted a PFF grade of 69.1 which ranked him 25th out of 80 qualifiable guards. The team had previously been interested in him, as in 2016 when the team traded cornerback Eric Rowe to the New England Patriots, Kline was originally included in the deal along with a conditional 4th rounder from New England.
2) A Familiar Face
Jason Peters is still a free agent. He’s said in the past that he’d be open to playing guard and head coach Doug Pederson said in 2016, on the topic of moving Peters moving to guard that, “guard could be a potential spot later down the road.” He knows the scheme and the players he’d be playing with in the trenches. This move makes a lot of sense considering those points but Peters has never played guard in the NFL. If asked to do so however, he does possess the athleticism and strength to play guard for at least one season.
1) In House Options
The in house options at guard include 3rd year players Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata and 2020 4th rounder, Jack Driscoll. Of the in house options, Pryor is the top option. He played 78 snaps last season in relief for Brooks vs the Seahawks and Giants. He is an absolute mammoth of a man at 6’7 and 332 pounds. He posses a good combination of size and strength that may lead the Eagles toward selecting him as Brooks replacement if they don’t want to make multiple moves along the line.
Driscoll is an extremely athletic player as he ranked ranked in the 96 percentile and 91st percentile for the broad jump and 40 yard dash respectively. He has starting level potential but he was a fourth round pick. He may be too raw to immediately start him this season.
Jordan Mialata is the wild card. He’s been on injured reserve for his first two seasons in the league. Not much is known about him as a player outside of how raw he is. He’s had two years to sit, watch and learn from the best offensive line coach in the league, Jeff Stoutland. If the organization decides to go with in house replacements, Mialata will get the chance to show what he’s learned.
In all, the Eagles simply will not be able to find a player who can replace what Brooks gives you as an offensive lineman. However, there are players who can compensate for the loss of Brooks without being an absolute disaster. It’s up to Howie Roseman and the Eagles brass to find that player.