While Jason Kelce’s arm wrestling career may be over, the Philadelphia Eagles should start to prepare for the day when his football career follows suit.
I know, I know, you’ve probably already seen the headlines and either appreciated, of scoffed at Kelce’s attempt at a humorous public health PSA, but this post should serve as a subtle reminder of the finite lifespan of an NFL career.
Kelce isn’t going to play forever.
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Despite being the best zone-blocking center in the NFL – especially after Travis Frederick‘s retirement – Kelce has openly discussed the idea of retiring for years now. While in theory, Kelce could keep up his current level of play for a few more seasons, as he hasn’t missed a game since 2014 and has been remarkably resilient, it’s clear that Travis‘ brother has interests outside of the gridiron that he’d like to explore in the not too distant future.
Fortunately, the Eagles may already have an in-house replacement primed and ready to go.
You see, the Eagles used their second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to select Isaac Seumalo out of Oregon State. Despite initially being brought in to compete for the team’s then-vacant left guard position – fittingly, the only position he didn’t play in college – Seumalo was considered by many to be the third-best center in his class behind Alabama‘s Ryan Kelly and Notre Dame‘s Nick Martin.
While Seumalo has been up and down as a left guard over his first four NFL seasons, as he was benched for Stefen Wisniewski in 2016, 2017, and 2018, he really came into his own in 2019 as a full-time starter and looked the part of a top-five lineman on one of the league’s top offensive lines.
However, that’s not the only option available to the team. What if -hypothetically, of course – Seumalo and Andre Dillard form a dynamic duo on the left side akin to Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks on the right and that continuity becomes too valuable to break up?
Fortunately, the 2020 NFL Draft is almost upon us.
If the Eagles deem center to be an immediate need in 2020, they could invest a premium pick on Temple‘s Matt Hennessy, Washington‘s Nick Harris, or Michigan‘s Cesar Ruiz (more on him here). Alternatively, the Eagles could opt for another versatile, Seumalo-type interior lineman with experience at multiple positions later in the draft like Indiana‘s Simon Stepaniak, or Oregon‘s Calvin Throckmorton (more on him here).
Heck, the Eagles could even just go all-in on adding their favorite left guard in the draft, a player like Ohio State‘s Jonah Jackson, Fresno State‘s Netane Muti, or Oregon’s Shane Lemieux (more on him here) and commit to Seumalo’s eventual move to center.
But whatever Howie Roseman opts to do, it’s clear the Philadelphia Eagles can’t rest on their laurels and hopes Kelce plays deep into his 30s. He’s going to retire sooner than later, and whether it’s Seumalo, Ruiz, or Lemieux, there needs to be a plan in place to keep the line among the best offensive units in the NFL for years to come.