By: BOB KENT
The Eagles waited until pick No. 159 to finally select their first offensive lineman of the draft. With the pick, the team tabbed Oregon tackle Fenuki Tupou, a well-muscled lineman with a terrific upside.
A two-time All-Pac 10 selection, Tupou anchored the left tackle position for a unit that led the Pac-10 Conference in total offense during the last two seasons. A powerful, agile lineman, he registered 159 knockdowns and 25 touchdown-resulting blocks and 11 downfield blocks while starting 22 of the 24 games in which he appeared for the Ducks.However, the 6-5, 314-pound Tupou knows he may likely have to move to another position in the NFL"I'm just looking to come in and contribute any way possible, whether it's at guard or tackle," Tupou said. "Wherever Coach Juan (Castillo) has me at, I'm going to put forth 110 percent and do my best to contribute in any way possible."
Tupou has been doing that throughout his football career - from Center High School to Sierra College and then on to Oregon. He played quarterback, defensive end and tight end in high school before finding a home at left tackle in junior college.
"When the coach took a look at me he thought right away left tackle because that's where we had a need for that position at the (junior college) level," Tupou said. "He threw me in there and just went from there."
Tupou earned third-team All-America honors and first-team All-Pac 10 honors after starting at left tackle in all 12 games as a senior in 2008. He anchored an offensive line that ranked second in the nation in rushing (280.1 yards per game).
Now comes the transition to the pro game under the tutelage of Castillo, who is a stickler as far as technique. The on-field teaching begins Friday as Tupou joins a list of young linemen, including King Dunlap, Mike Gibson and Chris Patrick, that will be vying for playing time. Tupou likely will move inside to guard, but will also provide depth at right tackle.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge," Tupou said. "It's a dream come true, it's a good feeling. Nothing in the world like it."