Ex-Eagles President Says Brandon Brooks’ Replacement on Roster

Matt Pryor

Getty Eagles guard Matt Pryor got valuable experience last season in three games, including one start versus Seattle.

The answer to the Eagles’ woes at right guard is already on the roster, according to one former team president. His measurements: 6-foot-7 and 332 pounds.

That’s right. Philadelphia might want to put the phone down and leave the free-agency scrap heap, and let third-year player Matt Pryor compete for the starting job left open by Brandon Brooks’ injury. Former Eagles president Joe Banner made the suggestion yesterday on Twitter when the retired executive wrote: “Brooks is a huge loss, but don’t underestimate Pryor.”

Banner, of course, ran the Eagles’ front office from 1995 until 2012 as the team’s salary-cap guru and lead contract negotiator. While he’s not affiliated with the organization any longer, the 67-year-old often comments on NFL matters and pens a periodic column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His insight is informational and refreshing, considering his 25 years in the business.

It’s unclear how much inside information he has on Pryor, or why he’s so high on him, but Banner grew up with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and the two remain close friends. He knows how GM Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson think, too. Banner’s evaluation certainly carries weight.

“We accomplished a lot of great things together, have some incredible memories with each other,” Banner told The Inquirer in 2014. “I do think there was a little roughness as I exited, but almost 19 years we had together was amongst the longest partnerships of that nature in professional sports. It was a great run, in my mind.”

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Banner Didn’t Hate the Jalen Hurts Pick

Unlike many fans and media, Banner was semi-supportive of the decision to draft Jalen Hurts in the second round. He admitted it wasn’t the move he would have made, but he understood it. Carson Wentz’s injury history cannot be overstated and Hurts provides depth and hope for the future.

“If I had been the decision-maker, this is not the path I would have chosen,” Banner told The Inquirer in April. “But some people are making it seem like a completely irrational decision. I don’t see that at all.”

He went on to explain that if Hurts does indeed develop into a quality backup, or even if he proves valuable in third-down situations and sparks the offense on a handful of plays, then it was a good use of a second-round pick.

Pryor Should Get First Crack at Right Guard Spot

Pryor, a sixth-round pick (206th overall) in 2018, actually possesses a similar body to Brooks although a bit less athletic. He’s young and raw, but also ready to be molded. The 25-year-old saw significant action last season against the Seahawks in Week 12 and versus the Giants in Week 17.

Pryor also started the Eagles’ wild-card playoff game versus Seattle after Brooks was lost for the year due to a shoulder injury. He played 147 total snaps (99 on offense, 48 on special teams) and didn’t allow a sack. It wasn’t all good. But it wasn’t all bad. There is definitely potential there.

Former Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas did an excellent job breaking down Pryor’s tape. Thomas credited him for understanding the silent count versus New York — “found his man blind, to a tee” — and for finishing B-blocks, especially on a big seven-yard touchdown run from Boston Scott.

He also scored points for the way he “let his hands fly free” and set down in his stance. Against Seattle, Pryor was ready to absorb the bull-rush and block down the field in the screen game. Pryor got away with an uncalled false start penalty in that game, too. Let it slide.

“I know that this is a very limited amount of playing time for this young man, but I think he’s going to be up for the challenge,” Thomas said of Pryor. “Big 69 out there, at right guard, seems like someone who can really get out there and play that position.”

The Eagles seem destined to bring a veteran into camp to compete. They remain in win-now mode and it’s a tight three-year window. But, looking at the current roster, Pryor is the best option at right guard.

“Pryor, he played last year at the end of the season,” Pederson told reporters. “[Nate] Herbig got in a game there at the end of the year. And these guys have to understand that there’s a little bit of a sense of urgency once we get into training camp.”

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