It’s been an interesting start to the offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team added Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery on the outside and most recently signed veteran defensive lineman Chris Long, along with experienced cornerback, Patrick Robinson. But through all the moves and extensions..there’s one spot in particular that’s poised to turn heads when Training Camp rolls around. Left Guard.
With Allen Barbre reportedly being shopped earlier in the year, many presumed that Oregon product Isaac Seumalo would be the rightful heir to the throne when the time arrived. One of the most impressive aspects of the Eagles last season, was depth along the offensive front..and even if Seumalo is the favorite to win said race..competition is the name of the game.
Doug Pederson spoke with reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting and opened the Q&A session with some discussions about the future of the left guard spot.
“Going into OTA’s, Isaac has showed that he can play on a moments notice. He’s a guy that we want to get into the mix.” Pederson said of Seumalo, who was the team’s third round pick in 2016. Although his chance wouldn’t come until later in the year, Seumalo flashed plenty of potential during the nine games he appeared in, standing out particularly well against Baltimore and Seattle, against two ruthless Defenses. It was this versatility and immediate impact that excited plenty of Eagles fans..but the race for the starting spot is only just beginning.
“Allen is a veteran player that has a wealth of experience and a lot of starts int he National Football League.” Pederson said of Barbre, the 32-year old who played in 59% of offensive snaps in 2016. The experienced Left Guard held down the Fort extremely well, but with rumors of trades continuing to circulate..his hold over the position has become unhinged.
But as exciting as a head-to-head battle would be in Training camp..there are two more names who Pederson would go on to mention. “There’s going to be some good competition there going into this season.If you’re talking about those two, you have to throw in Wis, you have to throw in Chance Warmack, some of the guys that we’ve recently signed. It creates the kind of competition that we’re looking for, trying to find the best five going into the season.”
A first round pick in 2013 and the newest addition to the Eagles offensive front, Chance Warmack previously served as the starting right guard for the Titans, but injuries and inconsistencies saw the praise that used to lift him, begin to weigh him down. Starting in all 48 of the 48 games he’s played in, Warmack was a force to be reckoned with on the field and it’s clear to see why. At 6’2, 323 LBs’, Warmack, is blessed with the size to be a pro-bowler, and the athleticism to help him get out in front of his RB to block down field. Although he hasn’t consistently lived up to the first-round label placed on him coming out of Alabama..the Eagles have one man in place who knows exactly how to light that Fire.
Warmack is a former pupil of Eagles, O-Line coach Jeff Stoutland and cited that their relationship served as a big reason for the reunion, stating “Jeff Stoutland, influenced my decision to come here to Philadelphia.” Warmack said in his introductory press conference. While under Stoutland, Warmack, became one of the best offensive line prospects coming out of college football. Multiple scouts and analysts alike had Warmack graded inside the top 10 picks overall.
If Stoutland can get the same level of production out of a very experienced offensive lineman now, as he did back in his Alabama days..then this competition is going to get extremely spicy.
The final man vying for a starting role, is a player who signed with the team one season ago with the belief he would earn one, Stefen Wisniewski. Although that never came to fruition, the 27-year old signed a one-year deal last offseason and went on to appear in 12 games for the Eagles. Originally hoping for a long-term deal and starting role, “Wis” proved to be a vital cog in the Eagles offensive line when Johnson’s suspension stung the most.
After the opening days of free agency had passed, the Eagles announced a 3-year deal for the former Jaguars lineman. Wis may be listed as the backup to Jason Kelce, whose own future is uncertain..but he will also have a huge role to play in the competition just one spot to the left. A spot in which he could very easily snatch the starting reins.
“It’s another opportunity for him to compete. He had six starts last year and filled a role that we needed.” Pederson told reporters today. “Going into this season, again the beauty of having guys like that, whether they’re starters, backups, role players, it gives you depth at the position and competition going into training camp that you want. It’s a great thing to have veteran players as backups that compete and want to start.”
No matter which lens you view the Eagles offensive line through, one thing is abundantly clear. Competition is the name of the game and there are a plethora of starting talents on the roster who will be vying to secure their long-term future at the position. Depth is a beautiful thing as Pederson mentioned..and with the aim of creating continuity on the line, finding the most efficient starting five through means of a Training Camp position battle only makes things that much more interesting. Let the games begin!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports