Eagles: Strength along the lines will lead to success in 2021

You’d be hard pressed to find a national sports outlet that’s shown any confidence in the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

Pro Football Focus had Philly ranked as the 30th-best team in the NFL entering 2021. ESPN has the Eagles at 27, NFL.com has them at 26. You get the picture.

It’s very easy to write off the Eagles this season. New head coach, unproven quarterback, a tumultuous offseason led by a reportedly dysfunctional front office. That sounds like a recipe for failure on its surface.

But looking at the team’s presumed depth chart, it’s hard to find any glaring weaknesses — or at least a position without any sort of potential. Outside of quarterback, arguably the most important positions on any football team are along the offensive and defensive lines.

For the Eagles, both lines are a clear strength.

Starting on the defensive side of the ball, Philly boasts one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in all of football. It’s a mix of Pro Bowl veterans, players entering their primes years, and young talent that has yet to reach their full potential.

Along he interior we have 6x Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox, accompanied by Javon Hargrave, one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the NFL. Since 2019, Hargrave ranks in the 91st percentile of qualifying interior lineman in pass-rushing grade, per PFF.

The depth along the interior is also stout, with rookie Milton Williams and veteran T.Y. McGill leading the way.

On the edge, the Eagles have a four-man rotation consisting of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan. All four of these pass rushers are above average to great at getting after the quarterback. Last season, the Eagles were only one of two teams to post a pressure rate above 40 percent without the aid of a blitz. With new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon at the helm, expect a heavier dose of blitzing linebackers, creating even more pressure in 2021.

Shifting to the offensive side of the ball, and we see the same type of top-end talent, along with excellent depth at every position along the offensive line.

The staring five, from left to right are: Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson. The right side of the line, including Kelce, is elite. The left side is the weaker side, but it’s not a weakness by any means.

Seumalo is one of the more underrated guards in football and is an above average talent. His 77.4 pass blocking grade on PFF was 7th among all qualifying guards last season.

Mailata is still unproven, but his athletic build and the rapid development we’ve already seen out of the former rugby player is astounding. He could be the starting left tackle in Philly for the next decade if all goes well.

The depth at these positions is also some of the best in the NFL, with the likes of Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Le’Raven Clark, and Landon Dickerson. Each of these players could probably start for a number of NFL teams.

We can nit pick all we want about what the Eagles have on paper entering the 2021 season. But there’s no denying how great their defensive and offensive lines are.

Having a strong defensive and offensive line paves the way for everything else to fall into place. The offensive line will make Jalen Hurts’ job easier, open up holes for Miles Sanders and the plethora of Eagles running backs. The defensive line will create pressure, taking a load off the secondary in coverage. And they’ll aid in the running game, helping the Eagles backers flow to the ball carrier more effectively.

Based on their talent up front alone, the Eagles will find some success this year.

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