Eagles may have eyes on Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi

Gabe Carimi has been impressive in practices for the Senior Bowl. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, "He's a little bit like a Jon Runyan. He's kind of got a little nasty to him."
Gabe Carimi has been impressive in practices for the Senior Bowl. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, "He's a little bit like a Jon Runyan. He's kind of got a little nasty to him."
Posted: January 28, 2011

MOBILE, Ala. - The defensive tackle bull-rushed at Gabe Carimi, but the Wisconsin offensive lineman wrestled him to the ground.

The tackle got up, but the aggressive Carimi clocked him again. And then again, even after the whistle blew, the 6-foot-7, 315-pounder gave the beaten tackle another shove.

It was a sequence this week at practice for Saturday's Senior Bowl, and it reminded one of a former Eagles tackle who made up for any lack of physical skills with attitude: Jon Runyan.

And with some mock drafts already slotting Carimi to the Eagles in the first round - the Eagles are in need of offensive line help - it could be a comparison made until April.

Whether they are interested in selecting the 22-year-old is not known. But Carimi could give the Eagles something they've lacked since a certain right tackle stopped playing two years ago.

"He's a little bit like a Jon Runyan," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "He's kind of got a little nasty to him."

There are also the physical and geographical similarities. Both are built like Paul Bunyan - big and thick. Bunyan, of course, is a mythological lumberjack from the Midwest, and that's where both hail from. Carimi is from Cottage Grove, Wis., and Runyan is from Flint, Mich.

Confidence is another trait they share.

"I was throwing a lot of people down yesterday," Carimi said Tuesday after practice. "I threw a couple people down today, so a little less than yesterday, but I still played real good."

Carimi played exclusively at left tackle in college but projects more as a right tackle because he doesn't have great footwork. Runyan held down the right tackle spot for the Eagles for more than 10 seasons.

Winston Justice has been the Eagles right tackle for most of the last two seasons. But he struggled through parts of last season as the protector of left-handed quarterback Michael Vick's blindside.

The Eagles may want to bring back both Justice and backup King Dunlap, and let them fight over the spot. Or they may look to the draft, which is considered much stronger in terms of offensive linemen this year as opposed to last, when the Eagles did not select an offensive lineman out of 13 picks.

If the Eagles are looking to draft an offensive lineman in the first round - they haven't done that since 2004, when they took Shawn Andrews - three of the Class of 2011's best are tackles and here for the Senior Bowl.

Colorado's Nate Solder did nothing this week to dispute his status as the best of the lot. Anthony Castonzo of Boston College is generally considered the runner-up. And then there's Carimi, who could be around when the Eagles pick at No. 23.

"The first two move a little bit better than Carimi," Mayock said. "Carimi is little bit more of a thug, which I mean in a positive sense. He doesn't have the footwork of the other two, but all three of them are 6-7, plus with long arm spans."

The Eagles have been known to draft tackles and move them to guard, like Andrews, and they're thinner at right guard than at tackle. Through the first two days of Senior Bowl practices, Carimi played mostly at left guard.

"I never pulled until today out of a guard position, but it was a learning experience," Carimi said. "I just got to take it for what it is, just learning a new position and showing that I can come in, never played a position, but play it well."

So does that mean he's going to be a guard in the pros?

"No," Carimi answered. "If they need it. . . . But I think I'm a tackle. I know I'm a tackle."

Carimi considers himself a better run blocker than a pass protector, which is how most scouts see it, too. That alone may take him off the Eagles' list. But he was a regular interviewee of the team's scouts during the week.

There are still the combine and individual workouts to be held before the draft. Carimi considers Senior Bowl week much more important for linemen, though. Last year, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham stood out here and eventually became the team's No. 1 draft pick.

Carimi and Graham - a Michigan product like Runyan - faced off in college. Carimi said he allowed only one quarterback pressure to the defensive end in their final meeting. He was then asked if there was something about Wisconsin boys that makes them hard workers.

"I think it's the makeup of the person," Carimi said, "because I know Wisconsin kids that don't work hard."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.


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