After a rough offseason, Eagles faith in Isaac Seumalo is beginning to pay off

The career of Isaac Seumalo has been a rollercoaster so far. Drafted in the third round during 2016, the former Oregon State lineman has taken a while to find his feet in Philadelphia and a sticky offseason led to a complete 90-degree turn when it came to his development. But as the heart of the regular season approaches, the team’s unwavering faith in the versatile player may is being rewarded.

Seumalo never really found his groove or opportunity as a rookie, although he did flash potential during limited snaps. In year two, he was unable to beat out Chance Warmack for the starting left guard spot after a long offseason duel, resulting in a year spent mostly in the shadows. Stefen Wisniewski was almost given the starting role by default and the rest, as they say, is history. Some brief spurts at tackle and rotations late in games that were headlined by an Aaron Donald highlight reel, saw Seumalo play in a total of 25% of offensive snaps in his sophomore season. But then week 17 arrived.

Pederson announced prior to the game that the former Oregon standout would be playing at center during week 17, a move anticipated by many ever since his drafting in 2016. The versatile lineman was assumed to be the eventual heir to the throne at the center position, who has the ability to line up wherever the coaching staff need him to. This was our first real look at seeing Seumalo snap the ball.

Despite a few pass-blocking whiffs, Seumalo sailed through the game, leaving fans to question where he fit in to the team’s long term plans. When the team later drafted TCU’s Matt Pryor, another versatile linemen with the athleticism to excel at left guard at the NFL level, the Eagles made the decision to move Seumalo to center full-time.

It was then that the wheels began to wobble. Throughout training camp, Seumalo battled with an inability to consistently snap the ball and set his feet. On numerous occasions, the 6’4, 303 lbs, lineman saw his snaps fly over the quarterbacks head, resulting in a costly mistake or the next worst thing. Those problems did not dampen during preseason, in fact, they only got worse. Seumalo continued to struggle with the basics while excelling at the more technical aspects of the position.

So when it was announced that the Eagles would be benching Stefen Wisniewski in favor of Seumalo, whom was unable to beat out the former Jags lineman one year ago, it raised several question marks. But, like a Duck to water, Seumalo leaped into the deep end without hesitation, performing admirably in that span.

Agains the Giants, Seumalo didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit…which is staggering really considering that at one point in the game, he was moved to right tackle to fill in for a briefly missing Lane Johnson.

“Yeah, Isaac did a great job of jumping over there.” Offensive coordinator Mike Groh told reporters during the week. “That’s hard to do. You play left guard the majority of the game, and then you’ve got to move over there to right tackle. That, again, speaks to his ability to be able to do that, both the mental flexibility and obviously the physical tools to be able to do that is unique.”

Seumalo strived in the run game, using his impressive athleticism to leap to the second level and sustain blocks for the running backs to capitalize in. His performance wasn’t just encouraging from an immediate perspective, which is obviously paramount when making player-changes during the season, but from a much bigger picture too.

If Seumalo can work on the intricacies of nailing the center position, while excelling at guard as a starter and even flash at tackle when asked to fill in for an injury, the ceiling is unquestionably as high as Jeff Stoutland foresaw. It was very easy to look at Seumalo’s struggles at center at this stage in his career and assume that maybe that ceiling has been lowered somewhat. Instead, being able to show he can slot right back in to a starting role and perform extremely efficiently, may have pushed it higher than it ever was before.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

 

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