There haven’t been many silver linings for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. But one area this franchise can point to and say “this is something we can build on moving forward,” is the young offensive line.
Coming into the season, the line wasn’t very young at all. Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, and Jason Kelce are all on the wrong side of 30, but only one of them has started every game this season. In Brooks’ absence, Johnson’s three-game absence, along with Isaac Seumalo’s season ending injury, the team was forced to put a handful of linemen’s feet to the fire.
Second-round pick Landon Dickerson has started at guard since Seumalo’s injury. Jack Driscoll got the nod once Brooks was lost for the year. And Andre Dillard was thrusted into action when Jordan Mailata missed some time and had to move over to right tackle once Johnson was gone.
Looking ahead to next year and beyond, guys like Brooks, Kelce, and maybe even Johnson may not be here. But the good news is, the team already has adequate replacements in house.
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Although Dickerson has played primarily guard this season, he was drafted to eventually replace Kelce at center, which could happen as early as next season. He’s had an up and down rookie campaign thus far, but we’ve seen gradual improvement from the Alabama product with each passing week.
From his first action in Week 2 to his most recent performance against the Raiders in Week 7, his PFF pass blocking grade has improved each week. It started at a measly 4.2 in Week 2 and it’s risen all the way to 75 this past week. On 256 pass blocking reps, Dickerson has allowed 18 total pressures and just one sack.
Dillard may be the surprise of the bunch — very few had much hope for him following a forgettable training camp this year. But when he’s gotten opportunities this season, Dillard has proven his worth.
His 75.8 pass blocking grade is third-best on the team. The former first-round pick has only surrendered 14 total pressures and one sack on 210 pass blocking snaps.
While Dillard’s stellar performance this year may be the pleasant surprise of the young offensive linemen, the unsung hero has been Jack Driscoll. In four starts this year, Driscoll has posted an offensive grade of 70.7, which ranks him 20th out of 74 qualifying guards per PFF. His 75.9 pass blocking grade is second-best on the team, behind only Kelce, and he’s yet to allow a sack on the year.
We haven’t even touched on Seumalo much yet, mostly due to his injury status, but his status with the team long-term is not in any doubt. Aside from Kelce, Seumalo was the best lineman on the roster prior to his injury. His pass blocking grade of 82.9 is still the best mark on the team, and his 74.8 run blocking grade is third-best.
As a unit, the Eagles offensive line is one of the best run blocking groups in the league. They lead the league in average rushing yards before contact with 4 YPC.
Despite this, Miles Sanders only averages nine rushing attempt per game. Makes sense!
There are a lot of problems with this Eagles roster. But as many of us know, having a great offensive line can help mask a lot of deficiencies at the skill positions. Not only has this offensive line overachieved this season with an abundance of injuries, but the young linemen are ready to takeover as the long-term starters as early as next year.
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