For Eagles, Roseman, Tackle Likely Safest Bet

They don’t always hit, but they hit pretty often. And when they do, they hit big.

There have been 10 offensive tackles selected with a top-five pick since 2001. Six turned into Pro Bowlers. And combined, those six have been named to the Pro Bowl a total of 18 times.

This is how it breaks down:

YearNameOverall PickNumber of Pro Bowls
2001Leonard Davis2nd3
2002Mike Williams 4th0
2004Robert Gallery2nd0
2006D'Brickashaw Ferguson4th3
2007 Joe Thomas 3rd6
2007Levi Brown5th0
2008Jake Long1st4
2009Jason Smith2nd0
2010Trent Williams4th1
2012Matt Kalil 4th1

Howie Roseman says there is a reason why the return rate is so high.

“I think it’s hard to find really big men who can move, so when you get those guys, they’re very clear,” the Eagles general manager said on Monday. “It’s not like you’re projecting as much. When you talk about different positions, there’s a projection in the NFL because they’re not doing the same things as they’re doing in college. When you’re in the college game, and you’re an offensive lineman, you’re doing all the same things you’re going to have to do in the NFL game, so maybe the projection’s a little easier.”

Indeed, the 2012 Pro Bowl roster supports the notion that much of the standout talent is found early. Of the nine tackles on the respective teams, five were top-12 picks and seven were first-rounders.

This is considered a particularly strong tackle class, especially early in the draft. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher could both be taken in the top 5, and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson may very well be plucked just a short time later. The Eagles, holding the No. 4 pick, sit right in the middle of it all.

“The common denominator is length, athleticism, toughness and intelligence,” said Roseman of the top three tackles. “When you’re evaluating offensive linemen, all those things are apparent in those offensive linemen, as well as other offensive linemen in this draft.”

Taking an offensive lineman in the first round is not always the right move, of course. It was just two years ago that the Eagles used the 23rd pick on guard Danny Watkins, who lost his job last year and is dangerously close to being deemed a bust. Roseman was asked about the Baylor product Monday.

“We’re really encouraged by Danny. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s really energized, literally, to come in and get somewhat of a fresh start. That’s how he looks at it. He’s been here in the offseason program. In fact, he got married on a Saturday because when you have a veteran coach you don’t start your offseason program till today. So he had set his wedding date. He drove in from Texas. He drove by himself. Didn’t take the honeymoon. Came to be here on time for the first day of the offseason programs. He’s got a great opportunity here to get a fresh start and we told him, just go out and focus on your job. Don’t worry about anything that happened in the past.”

Watkins will be up against it, though, particularly if the Eagles take a tackle at No.4 and kick Todd Herremans inside.

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