Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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The Eagles have the 2nd oldest OL in the NFL

The Eagles' offensive line is old. How old are they? The Eagles' OL is so old, that...

The Eagles have the 2nd oldest OL in the NFL

Eagles guard Evan Mathis. (Michael Perez/AP file photo)
Eagles guard Evan Mathis. (Michael Perez/AP file photo)

The Eagles' offensive line is old. How old are they? The Eagles' OL is so old, that...

• 13 NFL teams have no projected starters on their OL over the age of 30. 12 teams only have 1. The Eagles have 3.

• Evan Mathis is the oldest projected starting OG in the NFL.

• Jason Peters is the 2nd oldest projected starting OT in the NFL.

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• Todd Herremans is the 5th oldest projected starting OG in the NFL.

• Mathis, Peters, and Herremans are all among the 12 oldest offensive linemen in the NFL. Here's a list of all the projected NFL OL starters over the age of 31.

• Only the Patriots have an older offensive line, on average, per player:

In short, Ruben Amaro Jr. approves of the Eagles' OL.

The Eagles did not acquire any young OL talent in the 2014 draft, which was a scenario that Howie Roseman referred to as "a dagger in the heart." It appears that the Eagles were targeting OL help in the 3rd round, but when 7 offensive linemen were selected in the 19 picks before the Eagles were on the clock with the 83rd overall pick they acquired from the Browns, they traded out. After they picked Josh Huff with the 86th overall pick, 5 of the next 14 picks before they were on the clock once again at 101st overall were also offensive linemen.

The 2009 Dallas Cowboys are a cautionary tale of what can happen when your OL as a unit gets too old. They entered the 2009 season with all 5 offensive line starters over the age of 31.

That season, they managed to win a playoff game over the Eagles before getting trounced by the Vikings in the 2nd round. From there, the entire OL simultaneously went into a sharp decline and became the biggest weakness by far on a team that otherwise had intriguing talent. From the span of 2010-2013, they compiled a 30-34 record, never making the playoffs.

In 2014, the Cowboys are finally heading into a season with a positive outlook for their OL, but it took them 5 years and 3 first round picks to fix it. A bad OL basically ruined the years in which Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware were in their primes. And now they have a slew of problems elsewhere.

That is an extreme example. The Eagles are not in the same boat as the 2009 Cowboys. To begin, it is unknown whether or not the Cowboys fed their offensive linemen smoothies.

From a roster building perspective, the Eagles have far less work to do in terms of OL replenishment. If the Eagles eventually have their sights set on moving Lane Johnson over from RT to LT whenever Jason Peters can no longer play at a high level, they will be set at arguably the two toughest OL positions to fill, with Johnson at LT and Jason Kelce at center. Johnson and Kelce are 24 and 26, respectively. That of course assumes that Johnson will stay healthy and continue to get better.

The guard spots are typically easier to fill, and while the RT spot in the NFL is no longer all that dissimilar from the LT spot, most of the premium pass rushers in the NFL remain on the LT's side.

Additionally, Both Peters and Mathis are athletic freaks of nature, who could age better than your typical offensive lineman. Also noteworthy is that Mathis has low mileage with only 69 career starts, as opposed to a player like Herremans, who has 116, but is actually a year younger than Mathis.

Being old isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you can stay healthy, and as long as you don’t wear down toward the end of the season. Otherwise, you better have depth. The Eagles have some young offensive linemen on the roster that they seem to like, but are completely untested at the NFL level. The only backup at this point who can reasonably be considered reliable is Allen Barbre, who also happens to turn 30 in June. 

Barring some sort of massive regression by Nick Foles or some other unexpected player and/or positional group, the Eagles' biggest priority next offseason should be adding young OL help. The age of the Eagles' OL is not quite yet at 'threat level red,' but it's getting closer.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

Jimmy Kempski Philly.com
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