With Jason Peters and Halapoulivaati Vaitai gone, the pressure is on for Matt Pryor to step up and become the Philadelphia Eagles’ top reserve offensive o-lineman.
After slotting in eighth on the Eagles’ offensive lineman hierarchy behind their starting five, Andre Dillard, and his TCU teammate Halapoulivaati Vaitai in 2019, Pryor now stands as the unquestioned top reserve on the Eagles’ roster at both guard and tackle – a fate that will all but surely stand unless the team somehow lands a slam dunk prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Is filling such a varied, expansive role a tough ask for a former sixth-round pick with only 79 offensive snaps of in-game experience? Maybe so, but it’s not like the 25-year-old hasn’t been tested.
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You see, in 2019, Pryor logged 77 of his 79 snaps in two games, Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks, and Week 17 against the New York Giants. In those games, Pryor allowed zero sacks, one penalty, and all in all, showed out fairly well against the albeit less than elite interior rushers employed by either team. Pryor also saw late-game snaps at right tackle during the preseason and showed out impressively enough against third-strings currently stashed on practice squads, or earning their wears in the XFL.
Is that, shall we say four-game sample size enough to establish Pryor as a potential starting-caliber offensive lineman like his former Horned Frogs compatriot? I guess we’ll have to see.
A no-star recruit out of Lakewood, California, Pryor appeared in 46 games for the Horned Frogs over five seasons on Texas Christian’s campus – earning snaps at both right guard and right tackle. Despite being one of the least athletic offensive linemen in the 2018 class from a testing standpoint, as evidenced by the absolutely putrid 5.6 40 yard dash he ran at TCU’s pro day, Pryor remained a viable blocker in the Horned Frogs’ air raid offense thanks to his massive size, long arms, and 11.5-inch hands.
As you may or may not know, TCU offensive linemen don’t start off the play with their hands on the ground, so having good hands is crucial to opening holes in the running game and pushing around lesser interior rushers.
There no doubt about it, Pryor is a tweener. He’s a bit too slow to take on speed rushers coming off the edge, and a bit too tall to be an every-down NFL guard, as, ya know, quarterbacks need to be able to see the middle of the field, but this position flexibility may actually be an asset for the Eagles, not a detriment.
Without Vaitai and reserve stalwart Stefen Wisniewski, the Eagles need a capable backup guard, and with Dillard slotted into Peters’ place in the starting five, the Birds only have one other offensive tackle, Jordan Mailata under contract. In theory, if Pryor can fill both roles a la his Horned Frog predecessor, the Eagles should be good to go in 2020 without missing a beat.
But if not? Boy howdy could things go south in a hurry.
If Matt Pryor proves his worth in a more expansive role, the Philadelphia Eagles may have found the second coming of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. But if he struggles, Doug Pederson‘s offensive could be an injury away from total offensive collapse. Hopefully, Howie Roseman‘s faith in Pryor is handsomely rewarded, because if not, the Eagles could be in trouble.