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Ranking the NFC East, 2019: Offensive Lines

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Hogs Haven looks at all four teams in the division in an effort to identify the best and the weakest of the NFC East

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Training camp starts in about a month, and we’re about 6 weeks from the preseason opener against the Browns.

But for now, there’s just not a lot of NFL buzz. The early announcement of player suspensions has already happened. Oddly timed GM firings have run their course. Minicamps are almost ancient history.

Like last year, the Nationals are hovering just below .500 on the season and are entrenched in 3rd place. The NBA draft is behind us, the hockey trade season has slowed down... basically, we have four weeks with nothing to do but wait for Training camp.

So, I thought we could do what we did last year at this time: let’s rank the NFC East, one or two position groups at a time. Today, I thought it would fun to take a look at the division’s offensive lines.

The NFC East has been steadily building teams that can run the ball; partly by drafting or trading for talented running backs, but also by focusing on drafting or signing quality Offensive Linemen. Assuming the twitter furor surrounding Trent Williams last month is really a storm in a teacup, the Redskins have four starters returning from last year’s OL group. If the TW situation turns out to be something more than just weak Twitter reporting, the Redskins could be in real trouble at left tackle. The Cowboys are well-known for the amount of draft capital they have invested in the O-line. The Giants joined the party last off-season by signing Nate Solder to a 5-year, $62m contract, then drafting Will Hernandez with the 34th overall draft pick. This offseason New York saw Jamon Brown leave in free agency, but they acquired Kevin Zeitler from the Browns in the Olivier Vernon trade. The Eagles have so many quality tackles, that Lane Johnson plays the right side, and they added a rookie OT in the draft, taking Andrew Dillard 22nd overall..

I’m not sure if there’s a division in football that can boast four better offensive lines in 2018 than the NFC East.

Redskins

The Redskins unit seems to have a lot of continuity as the team transitions from 2018 to 2019, but a lot of questions as well.

Morgan Moses has been hobbled by ankle injuries for two consecutive years, though he lined up and played most weeks.

Brandon Scherff, who may have taken over as the Redskins’ beastliest O-lineman, tore a pectoral muscle in Week 10 last season, and will have to bounce back this year.

Chase Roullier may have been the most consistently healthy starter on the OL in ‘18; the team will be looking for the third year player to take the next step in his development and production.

The left side of the line has even bigger question marks than the right. The team drafted guards with consecutive picks in the draft, taking Wes Martin in the 4th and Ross Pierschbacher in the 5th, to supplement the experimental signing of former Giants OT Ereck Flowers to try out for the vacant LG position.

Finally, the status of Trent Williams is up in the air. There were initial reports that he was holding out for a trade or a new contract. Later reports said that he was not concerned about his contract, but about the medical department of the Redskins. More recent reports, including an Instagram post from Williams himself, indicate that he is still undergoing surgeries related to his off-season surgery to remove a growth from his head/scalp. We may have to wait for training camp to get any more clarity on Trent’s situation.

It’s hard to know what to make of this Redskins group. They seem to have been terribly injury prone for the past two seasons, so the limited depth at tackle, especially, is concerning. I don’t think anyone knows who will earn the starting LG spot, and one of the biggest question marks between now and training camp will be whether or not Trent Williams plans to show up and play. This 2019 offensive line group could be very good, or they could be very bad, and we may not know which until we see them line up against the Eagles on opening day of the regular season.

Giants

The team that seems to have the least consistency is the Giants, who also seemed to have the most question marks this time last year.

A year ago, the Giants lost 3 veteran OL in the off-season and signed Nate Solder to one of the biggest free agent deals of 2018. I’m not sure the NYG front office got everything they hoped for when they signed him away from the Patriots.

Will Hernandez was drafted 34th overall a year ago, and looked like a very good pick when he played last season. The Giants will be looking for even more from him in 2019.

The Giants finally ended the Ereck Flowers pain by signing Mike Remmers. Remmers has a strong connection with the Giants’ front office. He used to play for the Panthers when Dave Gettleman was their general manager and he used to play for head coach Pat Shurmur when he was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings went to the NFC Championship game in 2017 with Mike Remmers at right tackle. He was switched to guard in 2018, suffered an injury and struggled, but returning to his natural position of right tackle with the Giants should lead to better performance.

Kevin Zeitler, who came from the Browns via trade, is a highly efficient pass-blocker, allowing only 11 total pressures in 2018. The Giants’ starting right guards in 2018, Patrick Omameh and Jamon Brown, combined for 39 total pressures, so Zeitler should be an improvement for the Giants in 2019

In week two of the 2018 NFL season, the Giants, unfortunately, lost center Jon Halapio to a season-ending leg injury. Halapio was playing solid football at the time he went down. Dave In week one, Jon Halapio had Pro Football Focus’s third-best pass blocking grade (85.2) among centers with at least 50 offensive snaps. Jon Halapio will likely be the starter in 2019 unless Spencer Pulley is able to outperform him in camp. If Halapio can show that his first week and a half of the 2018 season was not a fluke, he will win the starting job.

Cowboys

The key factor for the Cowboys in 2019 may be the return to normal with Travis Frederick expected to come back after recovering from his battle with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Frederick is widely seen as the best center in the league, though Travis Kelce and Eagles fans may dispute that notion.

The other four starters on the offensive line, Tyron Smith, Conner Williams, Zack Martin and La’el Collins all return from last season. While the Cowboys’ line looked a bit less dominant at times in 2018, the return of their 2-time All-Pro and 4-time Pro Bowl center should do a lot to restore their seeming perennial position near the top of the league’s offensive line units.

Eagles

The big news for the Eagles is their first round draft pick, Andre Dillard. With Jason Peters getting older and more hobbled by repeated injuries, Dillard is the young future-anchor of the Eagles offensive line. The question seems to be one of timing; when will Dillard step up and push Peters permanently to the sideline?

Jason Kelce may or may not be the best Center in the NFC East, but Lane Johnson is almost certainly the best RT in the division, and possibly in the entire NFL.

Isaac Sueamalo represents a bit of a question mark for non-Eagles fans. In 2018, Seumalo entered the season as the backup left guard behind Stefen Wisniewski. He was named the starter in Week 5 and started the next nine games before being sidelined the final three weeks of the regular season with a pectoral injury.

This off-season, Seumalo signed a three-year contract extension with the Eagles through the 2022 season. This 2016 3rd round pick probably still has a lot of questions to answer to make a name for himself in the division.

Brandon Brooks is the clear starter at RG for the Eagles, but he may not be ready to play in 2019 — he almost certainly won’t be ready for training camp. Brooks earned consecutive Pro-Bowl honors in ‘17 & ‘18, but tore his Achilles tendon in the divisional playoff loss to the Saints in January. One article I read on Bleeding Green Nation suggested that if Brooks is unable to play in September, then the likely replacement would be Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has been the swing tackle (and occasional starter) for a few years now. Prior to reading the article, I wasn’t aware that Vaitai was a consideration for an interior OL position.

Here’s a summary of the expected starting offensive line groups for the 4 NFC East teams

Sources for projected starting units:

Poll

Which NFC East team will have the BEST offensive line in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Eagles
    (450 votes)
  • 1%
    Giants
    (16 votes)
  • 33%
    Cowboys
    (334 votes)
  • 19%
    Redskins
    (192 votes)
992 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which NFC East team will have the WEAKEST offensive line in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Eagles
    (12 votes)
  • 82%
    Giants
    (733 votes)
  • 1%
    Cowboys
    (14 votes)
  • 14%
    Redskins
    (130 votes)
889 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best Left Tackle in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Jason Peters
    (159 votes)
  • 0%
    Andre Dillard
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Nate Solder
    (12 votes)
  • 24%
    Tyron Smith
    (224 votes)
  • 55%
    Trent WIlliams
    (502 votes)
900 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best Left Guard in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Isaac Seumalo
    (113 votes)
  • 65%
    Will Hernandez
    (484 votes)
  • 19%
    Conner Williams
    (146 votes)
743 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best Center in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Jason Kelce
    (499 votes)
  • 1%
    John Halapio
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    Travis Frederick
    (269 votes)
  • 9%
    Chase Roullier
    (81 votes)
860 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best Right Guard in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Brandon Brooks
    (248 votes)
  • 1%
    Kevin Zeitler
    (17 votes)
  • 25%
    Zack Martin
    (227 votes)
  • 43%
    Brandon Scherff
    (385 votes)
877 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best Right Tackle in the NFC East?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Lane Johnson
    (661 votes)
  • 2%
    Mike Remmers
    (20 votes)
  • 6%
    La’el Collins
    (58 votes)
  • 14%
    Morgan Moses
    (128 votes)
867 votes total Vote Now