Ones to watch: Training Camp will be crucial for Eagles C Tyler Orlosky

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The NFL Draft is often unpredictable. There are those who make their name predicting where the next generation will land and just how quickly their name will fly off the board, but every year there are big names that just slip through the cracks for a variety of reasons. This year, one of those names was one of the Draft’s top ranked centers, Tyler Orlosky.

Orlosky started 41 games for West Virginia of the 49 he participated in. A finalist for the Rimington Trophy, the 6’3, 298 lbs center simply shined from start to finish as both a leader and an athletic offensive lineman. Entering the draft, many had Orlosky penned as the third ranked center of the class…but for whatever reason, his name would not be called on day 3 of the event hosted in the City he would later sign with.

The former Mountaineer decided to take his talents to Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent, reuniting with Shelton Gibson, Wendell Smallwood, and Rasul Douglas. While those bonds certainly impacted the thought process, the foundations were laid by an unsuspecting party.

“It just came back to my relationship with coach Chung,” Orlosky said in an interview with John McCullen of Fanrag sports network. “He came and worked me out. I got to know him and really liked the way he coached, the style he had. That was huge.”

Eugene Chung is the Eagles assistant offensive line coach, working with Jeff Stoutland closely to develop the O-Line talent, while also helping to coordinate the run game. With the strong first impressions made, Orlosky made his way to the City of Brotherly Love and signed as a UDFA ahead of rookie minicamp.

The excitement surrounding a 41-game starter being signed as a UDFA began to build and all of a sudden, the questions surrounding expectations for Orlosky began to emerge. It’s been no secret that the Eagles have had question marks at center for a while now and if the team were to eventually move on from Kelce, leaving just Seumalo and Wisniewski could prove problematic.

But just as things were looking promising, tragedy struck.

Held out of OTA’s and Mandatory Minicamp, Orlosky suffered an MCL injury that would sideline him until the beginning of Training Camp. All the while, a battle at left guard had emerged and opened the door for a potential entrance at center lower on the depth chart. Orlosky will now just have the duration of Training Camp to prove his worth to Chung, Stoutland and the rest of the Eagles Coaching staff in a bid to cement a place on the final 53-man roster.

If we’re going off prowess alone however, it shouldn’t take long for the former WVU captain to make an impact. Orlosky was subject to plenty of offensive changes during his time at West Virginia. When he first joined the team, WVU was a run-first outfit that saw Orlosky tear open holes for Andre Buie, who in 2012 rushed for 851 yards,  averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Charles Simms would put up over 1,000 yards one year later in 2013 and then of course Wendell Smallwood would break out with a 1,595 yard season in 2015. But through all of this, the Mountaineers began to shake things up and find a much quicker way of scoring points.

Shelton Gibson and Kevin White helped rejuvenate a passing attack that was becoming faster and more dynamic. The arrival of Skyler Howard only highlighted this further, with the athletic signal caller rushing for 463 yards in 2016. The change of pace in offense only aided Orlosky, who now enters a West Coast scheme with a 6’5 quarterback, armed with receiving weapons, who isn’t afraid to show off his wheels, and a backfield loaded with dynamic rushing threats.

Not only that, but one of the big drawbacks to Jason Kelce’s play in recent years has been the amount of penalties he’s suffered. After just 4 penalties in 2014, Kelce has had a total of 15 in the last two seasons, as bigger defensive tackles tried to run rampant. Orlosky had just six penalties in 3,133 snaps…a strong sign for an offense that has been built to get out of its own way after a tumultuous 2016 season.

Now we’re not saying that Orlosky will come in and win the starting role from Kelce, but he’s certainly a name worth watching. Not only is there a natural chip on the shoulder from going undrafted, but having missed the duration of the spring offseason workout program, Orlosky has a tall Mountain to climb…only adding more fuel into the fire of a Center who started out his college career at guard, possessing the versatility that Pederson covets.

Then of course, there’s who Orlosky will be working with. Given the current depth chart, it’s more than likely that Orlosky will be opening holes for the running back he helped propel up draft boards in 2015, Wendell Smallwood. Knowing his tendencies, Orlosky’s relationship with Smallwood will only help once the pads go on and the likes of Gabe Wright line up opposite.

As Training Camp draws near, Orlosky remains one of the most interesting players to keep an eye on. With Kelce and Wisniewski ahead of him, Orlosky is the youngest center on the Eagles roster, but has an incredibly high upside and a thick base that can help rip open for holes for LeGarrette Blount. The fact that such a thick base is backed up with an ability to get to the second level and make blocks, high football intelligence and a leadership trait that has been praised since he committed to WVU in Fall of 2011, only makes the excitement that much more intense.

It’s unclear just what the future holds for Orlosky, but as he fits the prototypical Reid/Pederson center prototype, it may just be that this Training Camp acts as the first step on the road up that tall Mountain.

 

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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