If Eagles Go O-Line, Look To Texas Tech

Andy Reid loves to draft offensive linemen. He's in his comfort zone when he's drafting big guys for the o-line and protection for Donovan McNabb. Well, if he's got to go there again, Texas Tech is a good place to look.

Despite coming off of minor knee surgery to remove a couple of bone spurs from his knee not long before the Combine, Texas Tech offensive lineman Manuel Ramirez just couldn't watch as others hoisted the 225-pound weight in the bench press room any longer. After he saw Texas' Justin Blalock push 40 reps to lead the position group, Ramirez felt he could do that many even with a weak knee.

So he did.

It was the only measured event that Ramirez participated in while at the Combine due to his injury, but he sure made it a memorable one. He was convinced that he could have done more had he been at full strength. And for the 6-foot-3, 326-pound Ramirez, it's not just idle speculation. He holds the record at Texas Tech with a bench press of 550 pounds.

One of the top centers in the country coming out of high school, Ramirez played an unusual role for the Red Raiders over the past two seasons. He called the audibles for the offensive line from the right guard position.

Expected to be a first-day selection, Ramirez has been drawing interest from NFL clubs despite a knee problem that had nagged at him during his junior and senior season. Following the Senior Bowl, he decided to get the source of the problem - two bone spurs - surgically removed. As a result, he couldn't do a full workout at the Combine or at his team's Pro Day on March 8th. But he hopes to hold a personal Pro Day in mid-April to reassure everyone that he's back up to full speed and even better than before.

(Getty Images/Ronald Martinez)
During a weekend interview that will be published this week at Scout.com, Ramirez said he's drawing strong interest from at least five teams so far.

At the Combine, Ramirez had formal interviews with the Eagles, Lions, Dolphins and Redskins. And since then, he's had follow-up calls and contact with all of them except Miami. A relatively new team in the mix that has reached out to him is the New York Giants.

Out of those teams, Miami, Washington and Detroit are arguably in the worst situation at the guard position. Miami is still trying to juggle their existing players to see if they can assemble a capable line. The biggest question is whether or not they'll give Anthony Alabi, a former offensive tackle who switched to guard last year, a chance to stay at guard and battle for a starter's role, or whether they'll slide him back out to tackle, which is another area of concern for the Dolphins.

Meanwhile, the Redskins currently have 31-year old Randy Thomas and 5th-year journeyman Taylor Whitley (Miami, Denver, Washington) projected as their likely starters, and that's caused enough concern that the team recently hosted former Titan Zach Piller, just before he signed with Detroit.

With Damien Woody entering his ninth season in Detroit, and his dramatic weight gain last year that reportedly almost reached 380 pounds, head coach Rod Marinelli is taking a wait and see attitude towards the 29-year old veteran. While Woody is dropping weight this offseason the Lions added Piller this week. But as an eight-year veteran who landed on the IR list two of the last three seasons, he may just be a stop-gap in case the team doesn't find the right talent in the draft who can step in right away. Ramirez could potentially fill that spot, transitioning the aging Piller and Woody out of the lineup.

Be sure to check back this week for our NFL Draft Q&A with Manuel Ramirez, a Scout.com exclusive for our subscribers!

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.


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