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Draft Review And Preview: OT


OVERVIEWIf you need evidence that the Eagles will have a different look in 2009, all you have to do is check out the offensive tackle position.

Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas started a franchise-record 134 regular season games together. Thomas was the 11th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, while Runyan was a free agent pickup in 2000. Both became unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2008 season. Thomas signed with the Jaguars. Runyan remains on the market after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee following the season.

The Eagles have a number of options on the roster, but nothing is set in stone. Stacy Andrews was signed by the Eagles on the second day of free agency. Andrews has the flexibility to play either guard or tackle. He played last season under the franchise tag for the Bengals as their right tackle before tearing his ACL in the next-to-last game of the season. Andrews continues to rehab at the NovaCare Complex and plans to be ready in time for the season.

Andrews' brother, Shawn, has earned Pro Bowl honors twice as a guard, but was drafted in 2004 with the intention of being moved out to tackle. The same goes for Todd Herremans, who is coming off of a very productive season at the left guard spot.

The Eagles have three other players on the roster who could play tackle - Winston Justice, Chris Patrick and King Dunlap.

Herremans has the most experience at the left tackle spot. He started four games there when Tra Thomas was injured in 2005. Justice has played both tackle spots, but his most recent experience came on the right side.

Even though the Eagles do not have a definitive answer at either tackle spot, there are plenty of options should no other players be added in the draft.

REVIEWWith Thomas and Runyan, the Eagles have selected a number of tackles in the draft but if any saw action on the field it was along the interior of the offensive line.

John Welbourn was picked up in the fourth round of Andy Reid's first draft in 1999. Although Welbourn was selected as a tackle, he started at guard and played in 56 games from 1999-2003.

The Eagles didn't use another draft pick on an offensive tackle until 2003 when they took a sixth-round flier on Jeremy Bridges.

In 2004, the Eagles began to build for the future of the line when they sent their first-round and second-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to move up to the 16th overall slot and select Shawn Andrews. Again, Andrews is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, but as a guard. Todd Herremans was drafted out of tiny Saginaw Valley State in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Winston Justice was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft. Last year, the Eagles used a seventh-round pick on left tackle project King Dunlap, who spent the 2008 season on injured reserve.

The Eagles own the 21st and 28th overall picks in the upcoming draft and offensive tackle is one of the stronger positions. If the Eagles want one of the two premier tackles from this year's class, Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe, they will have to move up, way up. Alabama's Andre Smith is a wild card because he was the top lineman in college football last season, but has shown maturity issues that could be red flags for NFL teams during the pre-draft process and could slide. If the Eagles stay put, Mississippi's Michael Oher could be there, but there are questions about his consistency. Another option would be Arizona's Eben Britton, who could be a franchise right tackle.

Then again, the Eagles may be happy with what they have on the roster and slide either Shawn Andrews or Herremans to left tackle and let Stacy Andrews man the right side. The Eagles have to decide if they need to draft a franchise tackle or move either of the very talented guards out to the position that they were initially drafted to eventually play.

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