PHILADELPHIA -- Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., yesterday, Howie Roseman said the Philadelphia Eagles were pivoting their attention to draft preparation.
While they could still look to free agency for a bargain here or there, the team’s foray into the market is pretty much over. That seems like a good time to assess the Eagles’ roster by position, gauging where the team is today and where it could still look for help in the draft.
Today: The offensive line.
Key move: The Eagles signed 6-foot-5, 343-pound guard Brandon Brooks from the Houston Texans. Brooks’ five-year, $40 million contract says very clearly that the team expects Brooks to fill a major need at a position Chip Kelly mishandled in 2015.
What could change: New head coach Doug Pederson said he believes Peters has a few good years left in his 34-year-old body. The abandoning of Kelly’s uptempo offense should help Peters as much as anyone. If Peters falters, Johnson could move from right tackle to the left side to replace him.
Barbre is vulnerable at left guard. The Eagles spent $40 million to replace Matt Tobin on the right side. Barbre was roughly as inconsistent last season, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the team signed another veteran guard from the remnants of the free agent class.
Another possibility: The team could think that Andrew Gardner could return from a foot injury to compete for the starting job. Gardner missed most of the 2015 season after showing some promise in 2014.
The center: Kelce did not have as good a 2015 season as he did in 2013 or 2014, when he went to the Pro Bowl. But the problems at guard had a direct impact on Kelce. He lines up between the two guards on every down.
It follows that an improvement in the guard play should help Kelce. The addition of Brooks is a major plus. The Eagles should make sure they have a viable backup center on the roster, but Kelce should be fine in 2016.
In the pipeline: One of the more intriguing guys on the Eagles’ practice squad is guard Malcolm Bunche. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Bunche spent last season working with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. That continuity should help the 24-year-old make the transition to Doug Pederson’s offense.
Draft outlook: It would not be surprising at all if the Eagles take an offensive lineman in the first round. When they held the No. 13 pick, ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both projected Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin to Philadelphia.
By moving up to No. 8, the Eagles could be in position to take Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley. Either Stanley or Conklin could give the Eagles a bookend to pair with Johnson for the foreseeable future.
The Eagles haven’t taken an offensive lineman since selecting Johnson with the fourth overall pick in 2013. Pederson told the NFL Network on Monday that the team will look to add depth along the line in the draft.