Isaac Seumalo

NFC Rumors: Vikes, Saints, Hawks, Eagles

A left knee injury will shelve Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford for the second straight game on Sunday, but it’s not necessarily time to panic, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network says (video link). While Bradford’s knee is “painful,” according to Pelissero, doctors have not told the quarterback that it has any structural that would require surgery. Notably, Bradford underwent procedures for two torn ACLs in that knee earlier in his career. For now, Bradford and the Vikings are hoping he’ll return for their Week 4 home game against Detroit – the first of three divisional matchups in a row.

  • A lack of continuity is one of the key causes of the Saints’ years-long defensive struggles, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com observes. The Saints have started the most defenders (55) in the NFL dating back to 2014, and have also seen a league-high 23 defensive backs start at least two games in that span, per Triplett. The club has simply missed on too many defensive free agent signings and draft picks – including linebacker Stephone Anthony – to establish a rhythm on that side of the ball, Triplett contends. The Saints traded Anthony, a first-round selection in 2015, to Miami this week for a 2018 fifth-rounder after he failed to live up to his draft status in New Orleans. Safety Kenny Vaccaro, a 2013 first-rounder, may also find himself in another uniform soon. A starter in 57 of 58 career appearances, Vaccaro sat on the bench for a large portion of the Saints’ blowout loss to New England last week. Former teammate Scott Shanle, a retired linebacker, informed Triplett that Vaccaro is “the most bipolar player I’ve ever seen as far as consistency. When he’s on, he’s one of the best players in the league. When he’s off, I just don’t get it.”
  • Seahawks tight end Luke Willson told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times that he expected his offseason foray into free agency to go better than it did. Willson was on the market for a week before re-signing with the Seahawks on a modest deal worth between $1.8MM and $3MM. “To be honest with you it was a miserable process,’’ Willson said. “Not what I expected. I don’t know what day I officially signed back but it wasn’t the first few days and it was, whatever it was — four days of being unemployed felt like about four months.’’ Willson added that he has no complaints about the end result, noting that he’s still “making quite a bit of money playing football.” The 27-year-old has never been a prolific pass catcher during his four-plus seasons, meaning he could once again have trouble scoring a coveted long-term contract by next spring.
  • Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman erred in handing guard Isaac Seumalo a starting job before training camp began, Paul Domowitch of Philly.com opines. Roseman traded Allen Barbre to Denver on July 26 to further drive home the point that he wanted Seumalo in the starting lineup, but the second-year man is already headed to the bench in favor of Chance Warmack after a pair of rough games. The Eagles’ hope was that Seumalo would start all 16 games at left guard this year and then, perhaps as early as next season, shift to center to take over for Jason Kelce, Domowitch suggests. Kelce’s under contract for a few more years, so if Seumalo doesn’t return to a No. 1 role this season and show marked improvement, perhaps the former will stick around in 2018.

OL Notes: Seahawks, Joeckel, Eagles, Paradis

As teams get set for the start of offseason workouts, they are assembling their pre-draft offensive line depth charts. One such team with some fluidity: the Seahawks. They plan to make a move that ended up backfiring on the Jaguars in stationing Luke Joeckel at left tackle. While Pete Carroll acknowledges Joeckel could end up at left guard, the recently added blocker will begin his Seahawks tenure as a left tackle.

Luke is a guy who started at left tackle, was drafted at left tackle. I’m thinking of him as that, knowing he can play left guard,” Carroll said, via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. “He had a really good experience this year moving in, and he liked it and felt comfortable doing that. So my first thought is we head into it with he’s coming into it as a left tackle that can play left guard.”

Jacksonville shuttled Joeckel from left tackle to left guard before the 2016 season, but an injury limited him to only four games. The former No. 2 overall pick did not fare especially well at left tackle as a full-time starter from 2014-15; he began his Jags run as a right tackle while a rookie. The Seahawks signed Joeckel to a one-year deal for a fully guaranteed $7MM in an attempt to help what’s been a maligned offensive line over the past two seasons. Carroll plans, for now, to sit converted basketball player George Fant behind Joeckel. Fant started 10 games for the NFC West champions last season.

If George had to sit for a while, what could be better for him than sitting behind a guy who was a [No. 2] pick in the draft and knows how to play the position?” Carroll said. “If that happens, it would only enhance his future, and we have high expectations for him down the road — high expectations.”

Here’s more out of Seattle and the latest from other offensive fronts.

  • The Seahawks’ most recent first-round pick, Germain Ifedi, is expected to receive a long look at right tackle, per Kapadia. Ifedi started 13 games at right guard last season, but a chain reaction might relocate him. Should Joeckel move to left guard, 2016 left guard starter Mark Glowinski would shift to the right side and possibly bump Ifedi to right tackle. Ifedi primarily played right tackle at tackle-rich Texas A&M but slid inside during his debut NFL season. Seattle, of course, is no stranger to moving its linemen. Former second-round pick Justin Britt shifted from tackle to guard to center during his first three seasons in the league.
  • Isaac Seumalo started four games — at three different positions — for the Eagles last season, and it looks like Doug Pederson is eyeing more time for the second-year blocker. “He’s a guy that we want to get into the mix,” Pederson said, via Zach Berman of Philly.com. Berman adds Seumalo could wind up at center or guard long-term. The Eagles, though, are keeping left guard Allen Barbre and center Jason Kelce after being rumored to be set to unload both. Philadelphia also brought back center/guard Stefen Wisniewski, complicating Seumalo’s immediate path to playing time.
  • Matt Paradis underwent offseason surgery on both of his hips and has an uncertain timetable back to his spot on the Broncos‘ starting offensive front. The fourth-year center shed his crutches last month and is expected back. But Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes the hope now is Paradis won’t miss any regular-season action, meaning Paradis might not be a lock for training camp. The former sixth-round pick enjoyed a breakout season in 2016, finishing as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 center and doing so on one of the league’s shakiest offensive lines. He’s played every Broncos snap over the past two seasons.

Impact Rookies: Philadelphia Eagles

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

First Round – Carson Wentz, QB (North Dakota State, No. 2 overall)

You can never have enough arms,” might be what you hear from the Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach, but it looks like Eagles GM Howie Roseman took that phrase to heart with his recent dealings at the quarterback position. He turned a journeyman quarterback (Mark Sanchez) to the Broncos for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017. Sanchez had played in thirteen games for the Eagles since he joined the team in 2014, but with Doug Pederson taking over as head coach, the team decided to blow up the quarterback position. Carson Wentz

It was expected that Pederson would hang his coaching future to the fragile body of Sam Bradford, but in a surprising move, the team handed a high-priced multi-year deal to one of Pederson’s old quarterback students – Chase Daniel. There were rumblings that even with those two in the fold, that names like 49ers disgruntled passer, Colin Kaepernick, was brought up in serious discussions held by the front office. Even then, free agent Robert Griffin III was considered for added depth.

Then, the rumors refused to die – the Eagles wanted to move up in the draft and were in talks with Tennessee for the top pick, before the Titans agreed to ship that choice to the Rams. Roseman then turned to Cleveland, pulling off a trade that saw the Eagles send the Browns their eighth overall selection, their third round pick (No. 77 overall) and fourth round choice (No. 100) in the 2016 draft, along with a first rounder in 2017 and a second round pick in 2018. In addition to securing the second pick in the draft, Philadelphia also took home a fourth round in 2017 in the exchange.

Roseman did not hesitate to snatch away Carson Wentz after the Rams selected California’s Jared Goff, . Word was that if the Rams took Wentz, the Eagles simply would have taken Goff instead. Actually, for the system Pederson runs, Wentz might be a glass slipper fit, while Goff would have had to adjust from the system he was developed under in California.

In just two years as a starter, Wentz has delivered the Bison a pair of NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national championships. He has started just 23 games, compiling a 20-3 record at the helm. A right wrist fracture sidelined him for most of the second half of the 2015 schedule, but he returned in time to help the team record its fourth consecutive FCS title.

Despite having just two seasons as a starter under his belt at NDSU, you could tell from that first practice that Wentz was a good student of the game, one that can easily adjust from college ball to raise his game to another level in a pro-style passing attack. There is no question that he has a solid feel for pre-snap reads, doing a nice job of making checks and locating secondary targets (he distributed the ball to an average of eight different receivers per game in 2014-15). He is a smart passer with keen eyes scanning the field and follows through with his progressions. With innate instincts and ever-improving developing decision making skills, it seems like he’s not far off from being able to handle a pro offense.

With Bradford starting and Daniel also on the depth chart, Wentz does not have a clear path to play in 2016. At least, not just yet. If the oft-injured Bradford finds himself sidelined again, we could see the rookie under center. Wentz still needs time to develop, of course, but he already has the acumen to lead an NFL offense if called upon.

Continue reading about the Eagles’ rookie class..

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Draft Pick Signings: Eagles, Packers, Bears, Colts

Checking in on the latest rookie signings from around the NFL…

  • Two offensive linemen – third-rounder Isaac Seumalo and fifth-rounder Halapoulivaati Vaitai – have agreed to deals with the Eagles, the team tweeted. Seumalo went 79th in the draft after playing various positions, mostly center, along Oregon State’s O-line. Vaitai, the 164th pick, made 30 starts at tackle (primarily on the right side) during his TCU tenure.
  • The Colts have signed fourth-round linebacker Antonio Morrison, the 125th overall choice, according to a team press release. Morrison was a four-year starter at Florida.
  • Packers general manager Ted Thompson announced the signings of four draftees — fourth-rounders Blake Martinez (linebacker, Stanford) and Dean Lowry (defensive end, Northwestern), fifth-rounder Trevor Davis (receiver, California) and sixth-rounder Kyle Murphy (offensive tackle, Stanford). Those four were Green Bay’s final picks of this year’s draft. The team still has to lock up its top three selections, including first-round defensive lineman Kenny Clark.
  • The Bears inked fourth-round defensive back Deiondre’ Hall to a four-year deal worth $2.85MM, including a $510,982 signing bonus, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Hall, the 127th pick, piled up 13 interceptions during his four years at Northern Iowa.
  • The Vikings have signed fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Beavers and fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers, per a team press release. Beavers was a stalwart at left tackle for Western Michigan before the Vikings grabbed him with the 121st choice, while Brothers – the 160th selection – was a prolific defensive playmaker at Missouri.
  • The Steelers announced the signing of sixth-round linebacker Travis Feeney, a former University of Washington standout and the 220th overall pick.

Draft Notes: Vikings, Eagles, Raiders, Titans

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman traded out of the third-round last night, and the executive explained his logic to Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.

“Going through the logic on why that made sense to us or why that made sense to me to pull the trigger on that is a couple of things: Looking at the depth and the players and what our current roster looks like this year. The second point, I always try to look at what our roster and what are potential guys that are going to be coming out of contracts next year. Third, I would say is the depth on the board still left tomorrow. We feel very strongly that there are still a lot of very talented football players that we will be able to pick up and add to our roster.

“So those three things were kind of the thought process for doing the trade with Miami. In essence I get three players for the price of one, although I did bank two of those players for next year. In next year’s draft, having an extra three and and extra four gives you a lot of flexibility to move around in those early rounds, either potentially going back into the first or moving around in the second. We have a lot more flexibility next year than where I am anticipating we’re going to be picking lower in the rounds, where you don’t have as much flexibility.”

Let’s check out some other draft notes from around the NFL…

  • The Eagles selected offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo in the third round, and Les Bowen of Philly.com writes that members of the organization believe the rookie can start right away. “I think this kid can come in here and compete and give us great depth … challenge for a starting job,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.
  • The Raiders “big target” on day three will be a running back, tweets Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune.
  • The Titans made four picks on Friday night, but ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky is convinced that only one of those players (right tackle Jack Conklin) will start next season. The writer wonders if he set his expectations too high, or if the organization missed out on players who could contribute immediately.

Draft Updates: Alexander, Kearse, Dodd

Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander has confirmed that he’ll leave school early and enter the 2016 NFL draft, tweets Joe Schad of ESPN. While Alexander’s team may have fallen short in this week’s national championship game against Alabama, the young defensive back appears poised to do very well this spring.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (video link) recently ranked Alexander as the seventh-best overall prospect on his big board, while CBSSports.com places the Clemson defensive back 10th overall, behind only Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey among cornerbacks. Several teams picking in that neighborhood could use help on defense, so Alexander will be an interesting name to watch leading up to the draft.

Here are a few more draft updates:

  • Alexander is hardly the only Clemson player declaring his intent to enter the draft. Safety Jayron Kearse announced today (via Instagram) that he’ll be leaving the Tigers for the NFL, and defensive end Kevin Dodd did the same (link via David Hood of TigerNet.com).
  • Oregon State center Isaac Seumalo is entering the 2016 draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link). While Seumalo has plenty of talent, potential suitors will have to consider his injury history when deciding whether to draft him.
  • Delaware Blue Hens punter Eric Enderson will forego his senior season and enter the draft, as Craig Haley of Stats FCS tweets.
  • Following the NFL’s Wild Card weekend, the draft order for 2016 became set through No. 24, as Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com writes. Washington picks at No. 21, the Texans at No. 22, the Vikings at No. 23, and the Bengals at No. 24. The top 20 was set at the end of the regular season, while the remaining postseason games will determine the order of the final eight.
  • The NFL’s scouting combine is expected to remain in Indianapolis through 2020, with a new deal potentially in place sometime this week, writes Mike Chappell of CBS4Indy.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.