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Eagles' Pederson stresses need to boost o-line

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Doug Pederson wasn't around the Eagles last season, but when the new coach was asked Wednesday about next month's NFL draft, the first position he mentioned was one many fans would target.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Doug Pederson wasn't around the Eagles last season, but when the new coach was asked Wednesday about next month's NFL draft, the first position he mentioned was one many fans would target.

"I think you still have to address offensive line. You can never have enough o-linemen," Pederson said at the NFC coaches' breakfast, on the final day of the NFL meetings. He went on to also mention safety and pass rush help.

What sort of o-linemen does Pederson have in mind?

"You want guys that can think on their feet, No. 1. You want guys who are athletic. You want guys who have that nasty, dirty grit to them, that no matter what happens during the course of a game or a season, they're going to take control, they're going to take charge . . . Guys that are versatile, guys that can play multiple spots," he said. "But to me, you want those dirty guys, those nasty guys. I'm not saying they're cheap-shot guys, but there's a demeanor about 'em, that they're aggressive when they step on the field."

The Eagles have the eighth overall pick, which might be a good spot to grab a future right tackle, who presumably could start at left guard in 2016. Before long, Jason Peters will move on from anchoring left tackle (either to guard, retirement or someone else's roster), Lane Johnson will switch sides, and Johnson's right-tackle spot will be open. But left guard, where Allen Barbre toiled with spotty success in 2015, is open right now.

Asked if his starting left guard is on the current roster, Pederson said: "Ummm, yeah," and then fumbled around a bit before concluding: "Nobody makes the team in March. We do have guys who are capable of handling that spot."

Someone brought up the idea of drafting this year with a future Johnson move to the left in mind.

"I don't know if you can get as specific, that way. As coaches, when we evaluate our talent, this is a scenario," Pederson acknowledged. "But as you go, you want that versatility with your guys, you want that guy who can play both guard positions, both tackle spots, but as we go down the road in a few years, we'll see where that ends up. It'll be something we'll definitely take a look at."

What did Pederson see when he watched film of the 2015 Eagles' o-line?

"There were free runners on the quarterback," Pederson said. "There were times when (center Jason Kelce) was left on an island, for whatever reason. It's hard to get into a lot of the scheme stuff, because I didn't know and I wasn't here, but just looking at it on film, those are some of the things that I saw. Just some inconsistency there. Guys were on different levels (meaning they weren't in sync). Something we definitely have to address and clean up. Working with (returning offensive-line coach) Jeff Stoutland, he's aware of all that. We're looking forward to cleaning that up.''

Stoutland will be teaching different blocking concepts in Pederson's offense.

"Philly (under Chip Kelly) was a little more just the traditional zone scheme. Inside and outside, pulling guards, pulling centers. I have all that in the offense, too. But I also like lining up with a fullback or a tight end in the backfield," Pederson said. He said he wasn't sure if he would devote a roster spot there, or make use of someone like tight end Trey Burton.

"You're going to need guys that can lead block a MIKE linebacker. You're going to need guys that can run power, and trap schemes. I like that style of running. That's kind of how I grew up in this league."

Blinders for Bradford?

Doug Pederson agreed the initial dynamic might be a little odd, with Chase Daniel, the backup quarterback Pederson worked with in Kansas City, being better versed in his offense than starter Sam Bradford. But Pederson said Bradford shouldn't be bothered by that, by Daniel's stated intent to push for the top spot, or even by the threat of a quarterback of the future coming in.

"I could see that happening. There's nothing wrong with that," Pederson said, when asked if players might gravitate toward Daniel initially. "You understand your role, you understand your position on the football team. Everybody's in this for one common goal; that's to win football games. No egos involved, you check those at the door . . . I think early on, yeah, guys will probably sort of gravitate toward Chase, because he does have knowledge of the system, and that's just a natural thing.

"If you're the starter, who cares? Why are you looking over your shoulder, if you're the starter? And that's the way Sam has to approach this, even with Chase there, and even if we go out and draft a quarterback this year. You're the guy. You're looking forward, and not behind you."

Drafting a QB is something both team chairman Jeffrey Lurie and Pederson said will happen, though Pederson visibly recoiled when asked if the eighth overall pick might be a QB.

Randle signed

The Eagles signed former Giants receiver Rueben Randle to a one-year deal Wednesday. Randle, 6-2, 208, was a second-round draft pick in 2012 who never became what the Giants envisioned - he might have been their Josh Huff.

Randle caught 57 passes for 797 yards and eight touchdowns last season. In 2014, he had 71 receptions for 938 yards and three TDs. He stands a good chance of starting for the Eagles, and probably figures taking a one-year deal with them sets him up for a more lucrative shot at free agency next year.

Meanwhile, Doug Pederson said he wants to try slot receiver Jordan Matthews outside this year. Matthews, a second-round pick in 2014, led the Eagles with 85 catches for 997 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015.

"I think he can play outside. I'm going to look at him outside as we go through this spring . . . with his skill set, he can play both," Pederson said.