One takeaway from Doug Pederson's one-hour roundtable interview at the NFL meetings last week was just how optimistic the Eagles are about Isaac Seumalo.
When Pederson was asked if Allen Barbre will remain the starting left guard, Pederson first mentioned competition from Seumalo.
"He's a guy that we want to get into the mix," Pederson said.
The coaching staff was pleased with Seumalo's development last season, when Seumalo started four games. Those starts came at three different spots – left guard, right guard, and right tackle – and didn't even include center, which might be his best long-term position.
"Isaac, obviously, didn't train at tackle for us in practice, he had some college experience at tackle, and for him to do what he did in that Baltimore game, on a week's preparation just shows the athleticism, the desire, the want-to," Pederson said. "Those are type of guys that we love to coach, who you want on your team. When you're evaluating players, it's not necessarily about what they do on the field. It's the desire, it's the heart, they sacrifice themselves for the team. The versatility, he can really play all five positions."
The Eagles started five different right tackles last season and needed to shuffle other positions on the line, too. Offensive line depth was a clear priority this offseason. They have 12 linemen with starting experience, and several of them have the versatility to play multiple spots. The Eagles look at Jason Peters and Lane Johnson as the anchors on the outside, but they also want players who can swing between different spots. Barbre can play guard and tackle; Stefen Wisniewski can play guard and center; Seumalo, according to Pederson, can play anywhere.
"It's nice to have those guys on those teams," Pederson said.
Even though the versatility is a benefit, the Eagles hope Seumalo will be a long-time starter. As a third-round pick last season, he was the first offensive lineman drafted since Lane Johnson in 2013 and one of only three offensive linemen drafted by the Eagles in the first three rounds in 10 years. (Danny Watkins was the other. Before Watkins in 2011, they did not draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds since Winston Justice in 2006.)
He could become a starting guard for the Eagles, or he could be Jason Kelce's eventual replacement at center. There had been speculation he could even be the replacement this season. Pederson said he expects Kelce on the roster in 2017, and by re-signing Wisniewski, the Eagles have another center option. But the Eagles have not been shy about how much they think of Seumalo, and look for him to play a big role for the Eagles in coming years.