Philadelphia Eagles News

Versatility Coveted In OL Prospects

With the offensive linemen hitting Lucas Oil Field Saturday for their Combine workouts, it's appropriate to take a look at what the Eagles could be looking for in an offensive lineman come late April. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke to reporters Thursday and gave the impression that the team could certainly be interested in infusing some youth up front on offense. Both Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole are scheduled to be free agents, so there could be an opening at right guard and the team can always improve the depth at such an important position.

"I think the talent level overall is probably better than it's been in the past few years," Roseman said. "It's deep. You have some guys who are versatile, who can play tackle and play guard, and obviously that helps. We've had success with moving guys outside to tackle and inside to guard, same thing taking guards and playing them at center. The more guys that are versatile, athletic, it helps. It's an exciting class.

Versatility in an offensive lineman is definitely something the Eagles have coveted over the years. Consider that Cole, Todd Herremans, Mike McGlynn and Jamaal Jackson all played some tackle in college. So who among the incoming draft class has the kind of position flexibility the Eagles look for? Here are a few names to keep in mind.

Clint Boling, Georgia, 6-5, 308 - Boling has experience at both guard and tackle and is currently Mike Mayock's No. 3 interior lineman prospect. He's expected to come off the board on day 2 of draft weekend.

Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin, 6-7, 314- The name most familiar to Eagles fans from mock drafts, Carimi is a big, physical tackle who excels in the run game. Carimi worked at guard a little bit at the Senior Bowl and has said he'd be more than willing to make the conversion at the next level, though he prefers tackle. Carimi could be an option in the first round.

James Carpenter, Alabama, 6-4, 321 - Carpenter was exclusively a tackle at Alabama, but he got a few looks at guard during Senior Bowl week and impressed. He's also expected to come off the board in the second or third round.

Ben Ijalana, Villanova, 6-4, 317 - Ijalana is likely to be the first Philadelphia-area prospect to come off the board in April and is one the draft's "risers" at the moment. A dominant tackle at Villanova, Ijalana could move to guard at the next level, though Mayock thinks he has what it takes to excel at tackle.

John Moffitt, Wisconsin, 6-4, 319 - Carimi's right-hand man at Wisconsin, Moffitt is Mayock's No. 4 interior lineman prospect. Well-versed at guard, Moffitt played some center at the Senior Bowl and should be able to contribute at all three interior positions at the next level.

Mike Pouncey, Florida, 6-5, 303 - Considered by many to be the top interior prospect in the draft, Pouncey played guard at Florida alongside his brother, Maurkice, the stud center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Pouncey then moved to center for his senior season and excelled as well. He's likely to come off the board late in the first round.

William Rackley, Lehigh, 6-3, 309 - A standout tackle at Lehigh, where he spent time watching the Eagles' offensive linemen during training camp, Rackley probably profiles to guard at the next level. Another Mayock favorite, Rackley could come off the board on day 2.

Danny Watkins, Baylor, 6-3, 310 - One of the draft's more intriguing stories, Watkins may fall a bit in the draft because he's 26 years old. But because he's only been playing football for four seasons, Watkins has plenty of room for improvement, which is no doubt appealing in the college tackle who could be plugged into a starting lineup at guard as a rookie.

After all the work they've done scouting these players over the past 12 months, Roseman and the Eagles personnel department won't be too swayed by the results of the combine workouts. However, Roseman said Thursday that because the Eagles are inclined to pass the ball and have such an athletic quarterback, athleticism is something they covet in an offensive lineman. So pay attention to how the linemen perform today in drills like the 40-yard dash (specifically the first 10-yard split), the broad jump and the 3-cone drill.

You can watch the NFL Combine live on NFL Network or at NFL.com/combine.

*-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:50 a.m., February 26 *

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