The Philadelphia Eagles Left Tackle Void May Be Filled Internally
The true foundation of a successful football team is usually the offensive line.
With the majority of quarterbacks being right handed, the most important position on the line is left tackle.
With the NFL Draft five weeks away, fans across the region and beyond are speculating who will be replacing long-time Eagle (and current Jacksonville Jaguar) William "Tra" Thomas.
"Draft Arizona's Eben Britton with the 21st pick"
Winston Justice is proof that being a highly coveted college player doesn't necessarily mean he's destined a perennial Pro Bowler who dominates the blind side.
"Trade both first round picks and a fifth rounder to move up in the top five. Use that pick on either Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe"
The Eagles have too many holes to fill to do this.
On top of that, just because these are the best left tackles in 2009 doesn't guarantee that they'll have the same impact as Jake Long did last year.
I also don't see the Eagles' front office overly eager to jump up that high to give $25-$30 million in guaranteed money. They'd give less than that with their two current first round picks combined.
"Trade a first round and fifth round pick to Buffalo for Pro Bowler Jason Peters".
Peters made the Pro Bowl based on his run blocking ability. He gave up 11.5 sacks in a run-oriented offense. Doesn't sound like a fit for a pass-first offense in my opinion.
I don't feel the Eagles need to do any of the above. They have two players currently on their roster who have the potential to be starters at the position.
These guys should be graded on a curve due to the fact that they've already started digesting the Eagles playbook.
1. Todd Herremans
Herremans was originally drafted in the 2005 draft as a tackle. He started a few games his rookie year and got positive results.
He replaced Jermane Mayberry as the starting left guard with the understanding that he could possibly move back to tackle when Thomas departed.
The Eagles could do this by drafting Duke Robinson (whom many compare to Shawn Andrews) from Oklahoma, or Herman Johnson of LSU in the second round, to address the left guard position.
2. King Dunlap
Many feel that giving Dunlap a chance to start would be detrimental to the Eagles' chances next year.
The 2008 seventh-round pick was once considered a first round prospect with a huge upside.
Unfortunately, Dunlap lost his starting spot his senior year. While that's never good, the freshmen he lost his spot to was Lee Ziemba (2007 first team All-American freshman, projected to be a first-day pick if he leaves after his junior year in 2009).
Dunlap has said that being drafted by the Eagles was a new opportunity, and wants a chance to prove he can start.
After a year off the field studying film, the playbook, and adding bulk to his already huge frame, Dunlap has just as much ability as any trade or draft prospects to successfully protect Donovan McNabb's blind side.
A prime example that Operation Dunlap could work is Jared Gaither of the Baltimore Ravens.
Gaither was a 2007 fifth-round supplemental draft pick.
After playing six games his rookie year, he started 15 of 16 games in 2008. That year Gaither anchored the line for a Baltimore offense which ranked fourth in the league in rushing, rushed for a franchise record 20 TDs and ranked second in the league in sacks allowed.
If Gaither can be successful, so can Dunlap.
The Eagles can save their first round draft picks on other needs (TE Brandon Pettigrew? RB Knowshon Moreno? WR Hakeem Nicks?), and still have the same potential at left tackle and solidify the offensive line.
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