Eagles need to invest in tackles

Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Here is the fourth in a series of looks at the Eagles roster:

Today: Tackles

On the roster: The tackles depend on Jason Peters’ recovery from a (twice) ruptured Achilles tendon. If Peters is not affected by the injury, he’s a dominant left tackle who improves the entire offense. If he struggles, the Eagles are in trouble.

Todd Herremans will be on the roster, but he might need to slide over to guard if the Eagles add a tackle. Herremans could also stay at right tackle, where he’s a serviceable and capable player.

King Dunlap is an unrestricted free agent, and it appeared the Eagles were ready to move on from him last season before Peters’ injury. Dennis Kelly overachieved as a rookie, but he’s more of a depth player at this point. The team doesn’t know yet what it has in Matt Kopa, Nate Menkin or Matt Reynolds, who are each developmental players. Allen Barbre has experience and was signed to a futures deal.

Not on the roster: The Eagles will be wise to invest in an offensive tackle this offseason, especially because of the ages of Peters and Herremans and the importance of the position. That could come in free agency with the Bengals’ Andre Smith or the Broncos’ Ryan Clady, if either hits the market. (That might not happen, though, because both are 26 and play at a high level.)

The best place to find a tackle is in the draft. Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel is the top tackle in the draft and might even be the best player in the draft. He started all three seasons in college and could step into the NFL right away. Joeckel might not be available at No. 4.
Another player to watch is Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, whose stock is rising. In fact, The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported that some evaluators at the Senior Bowl ranked the 6-foot-7, 304-pound Fisher ahead of Joeckel.

Later in the draft, Virginia’s Oday Aboushi and Oregon’s Kyle Long are intriguing names to watch. Long, the son of Howie Long and brother of Chris Long, played for Kelly at Oregon and is a converted defensive lineman who is still developing.

 Tomorrow: Guards and center