When they confirmed that starting left tackle Jason Peters suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Eagles issued a statement saying they would “continue to scan the free-agent market, also knowing the draft is less than a month away.” Of those two options for finding Peters’ replacement, the free-agent market is going to be a better bet than the draft.
On the free agent market, the Eagles were lucky — if you can ever say you were lucky after losing your Pro Bowl left tackle to a devastating injury — that two good offensive tackles, Demetrius Bell and Marcus McNeill, are still available. Bell is visiting Philadelphia this weekend and the Eagles have reached out to McNeill’s agent.
But in the draft, there’s only one player this year who looks like he’s going to be ready to step in and be a starting NFL offensive tackle in Week One: USC’s Matt Kalil, who will be gone long before the Eagles’ first-round pick, No. 15 overall. The other offensive tackles in this year’s draft would be reaches at No. 15, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told the Philadelphia Daily News. Iowa’s Riley Reiff, Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Ohio State’s Mike Adams are the next-best tackles on the board, but there’s a big drop-off from Kalil to any of them.
“Reiff, Martin and Adams, all three of those guys should be drafted in the 20s, not 15,”’ Mayock said. “I would struggle drafting any of them at 15.”
If the Eagles can’t land either Bell or McNeill in free agency, they may try to land Reiff, Martin or Adams in the draft. But if they do that, they may find that the recently re-signed King Dunlap remains their best option to fill Peters’ big shoes as the Week One starter at left tackle.