Offensive Line In Center of Draft Target

The Philadelphia Eagles have aging veterans Jon Runyan and Hank Fraley on their roster. Finding some new blood to incorporate into their offensive line seems to be a priority for the upcoming draft.

Offensive tackle Winston Justice is the highest ranked offensive lineman that the Eagles have had a pre-draft visit with. Justice (USC) came back from a suspension to give quarterback Matt Leinert blindside protection in 2005 and was the cornerstone of that protection. The big 6-foot-6, 300 pounder worked out for the Eagles a couple weeks ago and is likely to return before the draft for another workout in Philly.

Justice is generally ranked as the second best offensive lineman in the draft behind D'Brickashaw Ferguson and should be available when the Eagles make their first round selection. Ferguson figures to be gone well before the Eagles pick, but Justice could be right on track at 14.

Washington's Joe Toledo moved to the tackle spot from his tight end position and has a lot to learn. Even with just one season at tackle under his helmet, he ranks as the 16th best tackle available in the draft. At 6-foot-5.5 and 337 pounds, Toledo is a load and worked hard to learn the position. With more hard work, he could project well as a tackle in the NFL.

At the guard spot, the Eagles love Oklahoma's Davin Joseph, but so do a lot of other teams. In addition to having a private workout with the Eagles, the Cowboys, Patriots and Dolphins have all had Joseph in for a look and reportedly, all have liked what they've seen. Joseph ranks as the number two guard in the draft, but could possibly scoot over to play at center in the NFL.

While Joseph isn't the quickest guy among the offensive line candidates, he's athletic and gets the job done. He's got impressive upper body strength.

Right behind Joseph in the rankings is Pitt's Charles Spencer. Spencer started his college career on the defensive line, but moved to the other side as a junior. He's played at both guard and tackle at Pitt. One rap on Spencer has been his conditioning and he'll have to work to prove to NFL teams that he'll do what's necessary to succeed at the highest levels. Had he worked on that, he could have found himself ahead of Joseph in the rankings.

Joseph could very well be gone by the time the Eagles second round pick rolls around and Spencer figures to go right around where the Eagles second pick will fall (45 overall).

Hofstra guard Willie Colon is set to workout for the Eagles on Thursday. The Jets and Dolphins have shown a lot of interest in Colon and he's slowly moving up a lot of the draft boards. The 6-foot-3, 328 pounder put in a good day's work at the Hofstra Pro-Day recently, running a 5.34 40, completing 28 reps on the bench and posting a vertical of 29 inches. Originally, Colon figured to go in the later rounds, but as teams see that he may not be quite as much of a project as they first thought, he's been slowly moving up.

Will Allen (Texas) has had to shine through a number of injuries, but on the up side, he's played with injuries that could have sidelined other players. Allen is the sort of player that coaches love, because he's tough and has a way of motivating teammates. The big area for him to work on is his footwork, but he will get better and has the brains - he's a former All-Academic selection - to pick up on what coaches are trying to do with him.

Finally, comes Joseph's Oklahoma teammate, center Chris Chester. Ranked as the number two center in the draft, Chester's senior season was hampered by a broken hand and a knee injury that limited him to seven games. He played both guard and center and is a converted tight end. He's a tough kid who isn't afraid of hard work, but at 6-foot-3.5 and 305 pounds, he'll need to add a little size. He ran a 4.90 40 and is an athletic player with a lot of potential.

The return of Runyan has the Eagles pretty well set for this season, but it won't hurt to plan ahead. There are some decent linemen in the draft and the Eagles could be picking in the right spots to grab one that they figure will help, if not now, in the near future.


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