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The Heated Debate

What Will The Offensive Line Look Like In 2009?

In the NFC Championship Game against Arizona, this was the starting offensive line for the Eagles: left tackle Tra Thomas, left guard Todd Herremans, center Jamaal Jackson, right guard Nick Cole and right tackle Jon Runyan.

That's not what it will look like when the Eagles open the 2009 campaign.

Runyan and Thomas are currently on the free agent market. Shawn Andrews is poised to come back from the back surgery which prematurely ended his 2008 season.

Oh yeah, the Eagles signed Stacy Andrews, one of the premier tackle prospects in free agency to a six-year deal on Saturday. For the second straight year, the Eagles made a big move on the opening weekend of free agency.

It's no surprise that head coach Andy Reid said that he doesn't know who will play where on the offensive line next season because he has so many options ...

Shawn Andrews - Arguably the best guard in football after two consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, but was derailed last year by a bout with depression followed by a back injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year. Was drafted in 2004 with the idea of eventually moving out to tackle, but he's been so good and dominant at guard. He is much slimmer than when he was drafted and has the athleticism to play tackle and said on Saturday that he felt natural on the left side.

Stacy Andrews - Started at left guard for the Bengals in 2007 before he was moved out to right tackle, the position he played at last season under the franchise tag. One would assume that he would take over at right tackle for the Eagles, but Reid said on Saturday that isn't necessarily the case. Andrews could start at any of the offensive line positions except center.

Nick Cole - Proved that he's a more-than-capable starter in the seven games (regular season and playoffs) that he started at right guard at the end of the year when both Shawn Andrews and Max Jean-Gilles were lost for the season. Although he's only 6-feet tall, Cole utilizes his 350-pound frame well and is the only other player on the roster right now who could also play center. Should be in contention for a starting job along the interior of the line in 2009.

King Dunlap - A massive prospect, the 6-8, 310-pound Dunlap was a seventh-round pick out of Auburn after he was on the Outland Trophy watchlist prior to his senior season. Comes from an athletic family - his father was a fifth-round draft pick as a defensive tackle and his mother was a track star - and if he can put all of the physical tools together he could be an amazing steal. Would only be a left tackle, but after spending his rookie season on Injured Reserve with a foot injury, it would not be ideal to imagine him immediately sliding into a starting role.

Mike Gibson - Played both offensive tackle positions at Cal, but was drafted by the Eagles with the intention of playing guard. The sixth-round pick spent his rookie season on the Injured Reserve list due to a shoulder injury.

Todd Herremans- As a rookie in 2005, Herremans started four games at left tackle in Tra Thomas' absence and proved that he needed to be in the lineup in 2006. Ever since, Herremans has manned the left guard position. After struggling in 2007, partly because of a knee injury that required an operation midseason, Herremans bounced back and was arguably the Eagles' most consistent lineman in 2008 as he earned All-Joe Team honors from USA Today. Herremans easily could slide outside to tackle or remain at guard where he has started to excel.

Jamaal Jackson - Has not let go of the starting job at center ever since the middle of the 2005 season when Hank Fraley was injured. Jackson's play was rewarded with a seven-year contract extension in 2006. Jackson has started 56 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak among active centers in the NFL. The only other player on the roster who could play center would be Nick Cole. While Jackson has the ability to play guard, he has not done so at the NFL level. There is no need to break up the chemistry with quarterback Donovan McNabb unless the Eagles have a better option.

Max Jean-Gilles -Mammoth guard (6-3, 358 pounds) who got the opportunity to start on the right side after Shawn Andrews suffered a back injury in Week 2 last season. Season ended prematurely when he suffered a broken fibula in the Thanksgiving night win over Arizona and underwent surgery to fix it. Jean-Gilles was expected to push Todd Herremans for the starting left guard job in training camp. Depending on how the tackle positions shape out, if Jean-Gilles is healthy he could compete for a starting guard spot in 2009.

Winston Justice - As of now Justice will be remembered for the infamous Giants game in 2007, but played well when he moved over to right tackle for the season finale that same year against the Bills. Coaches tried to move him inside to guard to increase his versatility in 2008 during training, but he never got a shot in game action even with the injuries to Shawn Andrews and Max Jean-Gilles. The former second-round pick was reportedly on the trading block and could potentially thrive in a new setting. Best suited to play on the right side.

Mike McGlynn - Moved from tackle to right guard as a senior at Pitt and at guard is where he'll play with the Eagles. McGlynn played in three games with the Eagles before tearing his hamstring in the Wild Card win over Minnesota. His personality and intensity drew comparisons with Jon Runyan after he was drafted.

Chris Patrick -Was able to escape the winless Detroit Lions, which was where he played in the preseason prior to being signed by the Eagles practice squad. Originally a rookie free agent signee of the Giants in 2007, the 6-5, 315-pound Patrick earned a spot on the 53-man active roster at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. He will have to fight for a roster spot in 2009.

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