In a five-part series from Monday to Friday, Eagles insider Geoff Mosher and columnist Reuben Frank preview five Eagles flying “under the radar” as the team heads into training camp and the 2014 season. These unsung Eagles have a chance to make a bigger impact this season than people may expect.
Position: Offensive lineman
Height/Weight: 6-6, 290
Acquired: Rookie free agent (2013)
Tobin, a rookie free agent last year out of Iowa, impressed the Eagles in training camp. He’s got athleticism and moves well. The Eagles were so confident that he could hold his own that they discarded failed first-round pick Danny Watkins and moved forward with Allen Barbre and Tobin as the top reserves while Dennis Kelly recovered from back surgery. Tobin was a three-year starter at Iowa and played both guard and tackle for the Hawkeyes. He started the last 22 games of his college career. The former walk-on was named All Big Ten honorable mention after his senior year.
Ideally, you’d never care about Tobin. He’s the second man off the bench on an offensive line that returns all five starters, each of whom played all 17 games last year. But the Eagles are already down one starter -- right tackle Lane Johnson, shelved the first four games by a PED suspension -- so Tobin’s the next guy up at guard or tackle. Remember, the Eagles aren’t very young or deep on the O-line. Left tackle Jason Peters (32), left guard Evan Mathis (32) and right guard Todd Herremans (31) are each north of 30. Allen Barbre is 30. Peters battled injuries last year and Herremans has plenty of wear and tear. It’s extremely unlikely the five starters (Barbre for Johnson Weeks 1-4) will make it through all four games without an injury, so don’t be surprised if Tobin gets some early playing time. Tobin’s linemates speak very highly of him. He plays with good leverage and technique. He just needed to add some weight and strength in the offseason, which he did. He came to OTAs looking more stout and more like an NFL lineman than a college prospect.
The Eagles are young everywhere – secondary, linebacker, D-line, quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver. Everywhere except O-line. The only tackles in their 20s are Lane Johnson and Dennis Kelly, and if Johnson is Jason Peters’ successor, at some point the Eagles will have to start thinking about Johnson’s successor at right tackle. While Allen Barbre might be the top backup at tackle now and Kelly has some experience from 2012, Tobin is the only long-range OT prospect on the roster. The Eagles have historically gotten good mileage out of undrafted offensive linemen, from Bubba Miller to Artis Hicks to Jamaal Jackson to Hank Fraley to Austin Howard to Peters. Tobin could be the next in that group. He’s not crazy big or strong or fast, but like most undrafted free agents he is smart, tough and technically sound, qualities that are very important for O-linemen. Keep an eye on Tobin this summer. He’ll get plenty of chances to show what he’s all about.