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Eagles After Offensive Tackle; Babin A Titan


Eagles Interested in Tackle; Bibin Officially a Titan
By Lance Epstein

With the awful play of the offensive line in both games at Dallas at the end of the year and the release of former first round pick Shawn Andrews, the Eagles have begun to search for some sort of upgrade along the line via the NFL Draft.

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Chris Steuber of Scouts.com reports that the Eagles were one of four teams (Atlanta, Seattle and Kansas City) showing interest in Indiana Hoosier's offensive tackle Rodger Saffold. Saffold (6-5, 316) is better suited to play right tackle than left in the NFL. Still, he is one of the fastest rising players coming into the 2010 draft due to his performances at the East-West Shrine game and at the combine.

"The experience Saffold brings to the NFL makes him an intriguing tackle prospect, but it's been his performance this offseason that's raised his draft stock," Steuber said. "Saffold was the talk of the scouting world after his showing at the East-West Shrine Game and continued to impress scouts at the Scouting Combine.

"The 6-foot-5, 316-pound Saffold was considered to be a 3rd – 4th round draft pick a few months ago, but after being tested against the best in the nation and displaying his skills during drills, there's a strong chance that he's selected in the first round."

A pleasant perk for the Eagles is that he is very durable since he has only missed two games in his entire college career. In his career at Indiana, Saffold was a four-year starter and started in 41 of 42 games.

Many draft pundits such as scouts.com, rank Saffold as the sixth best offensive tackle in the entire draft. Others such as ESPN's Todd McShay, ranks him as the 40th best player overall and like Scouts.com, the 6th-ranked offensive tackle.

Also Steuber reported that the Indiana product has recently worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. Moreover, Saffold is expect to work out for the Atlanta Falcons next week as well as the Eagles on March 31 at Indiana University.

For the Eagles, they are in dire need of some kind of upgrade on their line. Nick Cole is an adequate starter at guard but is never going to be a good-to-great player due to being undersized at 6-0. Right tackle Winston Justice received a contract extension halfway through the 2009 season, but watching his play over the second half of the season was not inspiring.

Left tackle Jason Peters made the Pro Bowl but he made it more on his reputation then his play on the field. In addition, he has to lose some weight , which affected his endurance. Todd Herremans was far too inconsistent at left guard when he returned from his injury. Additionally, center Jamaal Jackson might not be back in time for the start of the regular season. Even if he is, there is not telling if he will be the same.

Saffold would be an interesting selection for the Eagles. He is a better run blocker then a pass protector. Also, he has had trouble with bull rushers over powering him because of the lack of lower body strength. At times he also has trouble with speed rushers at times since he does not slide particularly well.

I watched Safford on numerous occasions and went back to watched some tape on him, he is a solid player but will not be able to contribute right away. He is not as polished as Justice was when he came out of USC, but unlike Justice there no questions whether or not he wants to play (considering he played through injuries, both back and knee and missed only two games at Indiana). Furthermore, he is a early-to-mid second rounder, so taking him at 24 is questionable unless the Eagles are planning to trade back.

All that said, this seems like another situation where the Eagles draft a a player with high upside but is very raw. Andy Reid done seven time in the last four drafts. Of course, most of the picks have not worked out so far.

To me if the Eagles want to upgrade the line, they need to do it with a first rounder to have an impact. Plus fans will not complain if they take a o-linemen in the first after the embarrassing loss at Dallas in which the line was manhandled. Reid and company might have to trade up to get Mike Iupati to improve their line next year, but he is worth doing it.

Other News:

Like I reported earlier this week, the Eagles declined to use their "right-to-refusal" clause on defensive end Justin Babins. Babin signed a one-year offer sheet for $1 million with the Tennessee Titans . In Babin's only year with the Eagles, he was part of the defensive end rotation and registered only 2.5 sacks.

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