With free agent right tackle Jon Runyan in limbo after surgery and left tackle Tra Thomas in Jacksonville, it's uncertain just what the offensive line will look like when the team begins its spring workouts next month.
For now, former draft picks Shawn Andrews and Todd Herremans hold the interior line spots on the right and left sides, respectively. And like so many of the offensive linemen drafted by Andy Reid, both players are versatile and capable of sliding out to play tackle, a position they played in college.
Herremans is coming off a good year, while Andrews seems better both physically and mentally after a bout of depression and a back injury severely limited his productivity in 2008.
Andrews' back injury, which sidelined him for all but two games last season, afforded Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole opportunities to showcase their abilities and gain valuable game experience. Jean-Gilles started 10 games before an ankle landed him on injured reserve. Cole then came on and played well in place of Jean-Gilles.
Before attempting to project who plays where in '09, we must wait for Reid to sort out the who-plays-where question on the line. The answer will ultimately determine how Jean-Gilles and Cole fit in. Even Stacy Andrews, the team's top target in free agency, has experience at the guard spot.
Amid the re-shuffling of the line, there is also a glut of young linemen, including 2008 draft picks Mike McGlynn and Mike Gibson, who will try to distinguish themselves in the months to come.
REVIEWFrom his first draft in 1999 through 2008, Reid has not shied away from gobbling up young offensive linemen. While critics of Reid's drafts may point to those players who did not pan out, it's important to note that the Eagles have gotten key contributions from a number of linemen added in the draft.
In the 2004 draft, Philadelphia traded up in the first round to land Andrews, who quickly became a dominating force at right guard and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007. In 2005, the Eagles used a fourth-round pick on Herremans, who was a Division II All-America selection at Saginaw Valley State. Herremans made a smooth transition from tackle to guard during his sophomore campaign and earned a starting role at left guard in 2006. With the absence of veterans like Runyan and Thomas, Andrews and Herremans are key components to the offensive line this season and for years to come.
Reid's first two drafts produced the likes of Doug Brzezinski and John Welbourn, third and fourth-round selections in 1999, and Bobbie Williams, a second-round pick, in 2000. Welbourn, a tackle in college at California, converted to guard and was a solid player before being dealt to Kansas City prior to the 2004 season. Brzezinski, a one-time starter, carved out a role on special teams and was a valuable reserve lineman. Williams eventually moved on to Cincinnati.
Reid and his personnel people have also managed to reel in starting-caliber talent from the rookie free agent pool, including Artis Hicks in 2002, Jamaal Jackson in 2003 and Cole in 2006.
Of course, there have been other draft picks that didn't quite work out. That list includes Scott Peters from Arizona State, Jeremy Bridges from Southern Mississippi, Trey Darilek from UTEP, Adrien Clarke from Ohio State and Scott Young out of BYU.
This is a draft filled with offensive linemen and the Eagles can secure a really good one in the first round if they so desire. With two first-round picks, Reid and Co. have options. Only twice has Reid gone through a draft without adding an offensive lineman. A move to select another guard here really depends on how the coaches feel about Jean-Gilles, Cole and second-year players McGlynn and Gibson.
There is no doubt that when the Eagles have completed their draft process, they will have gotten significantly younger at several key positions along the offfensive line.