The Eagles bolstered the depth of the offensive tackle position Friday when they claimed Thomas Welch off waivers from the St. Louis Rams.
When Organized Team Activities get underway, the Eagles will have starters Demetress Bell and Todd Herremans. At backup, the Eagles have King Dunlap, D.J. Jones, fifth-round pick Dennis Kelly and Welch.
The 6-6, 300-pound Welch played in eight games in 2011 - five for the Rams and three for the New England Patriots, one of which was a start as an extra tight end. He also spent time on Buffalo's practice squad last season.
The 24-year-old Welch was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Patriots in 2010 out of Vanderbilt where he converted from tight end to offensive lineman. He quickly adapted to the level of play in the SEC and started at right tackle in 2008 and left tackle in 2009. Welch spent most of his rookie season on the Vikings practice squad after he was released by the Patriots. He was promoted to the Vikings' 53-man active roster late in the season, but did not play in any games.
Here is the NFL.com scouting report on Welch when he was a draft prospect in 2010:
"(Welch) is an adequate athlete for the position but lacks the kind of initial quickness, agility and lateral range to play on the left side at the next level. He is still learning the nuances of the offensive line and will need a few seasons, probably as a practice-squad member, to get it all figured out.
"He is not a natural knee-bender and tends to lunge out after blocks and generally goes to the ground too often. He struggles when trying to mirror better edge rushers at this level and will need to move back to the right side if he has any chance to make it in the NFL. When things go according to plan, he appears comfortable and confident, but when faced with something he hasn't seen in practice, he can look lost."
"Welch has prototypical size and very good length. Solid athlete who has some versatility after playing tight end and both tackle positions in college. High-effort kid who shows a bit of a mean streak and fights to the whistle every play."
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