June 09, 2016
For some of the Eagles draft picks, school isn't out for the summer.
On the field Thursday at the NovaCare Complex, the highest-drafted Eagle in 2016 that is expected to play at all this upcoming season was running back Wendell Smallwood, the 153rd overall pick. Carson Wentz is being groomed at quarterback behind starter Sam Bradford, and the team’s lone third-round pick isn’t in Philly at all.
Oregon State offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo hasn’t been able to attend minicamp or any of the team’s spring activities because of the controversial graduation rule, which states that drafted players can’t participate after rookie camp until their school’s academic year is over.
Oregon State’s academic schedule, a quarter system that wraps up in mid-June, ensures Seumalo won’t be on the field with the full team until training camp. Pederson, who sounds like he still might have an AOL email address when talking about technology, says that the staff is still making sure Seumalo is learning the offense.
“Coach [Jeff] Stoutland has had the opportunity to Skype and spend a lot of time, plus with the iCloud and things now that he’s able to watch some practice tape and go over some of the detailed stuff,” Pederson said.
Even if Seumalo is picking up the offense and watching film, it’s still obviously not as productive as physically practicing in Philadelphia.
“The biggest thing is just missing the reps, physically being out there on the field,” Pederson said. “It’s one thing to do it in the classroom, it’s another thing to take it to the field and execute the same thing when bodies are flying around.”
Like most NFL teams, the Eagles have dealt with the graduation rule before, most notably as of late with 2013 second-round pick Zach Ertz. This year, a couple of undrafted rookies (Stanford’s Aziz Shittu and Oregon’s Byron Marshall) are also on the sidelines with Seumalo.
For his part, Pederson sees the pre-draft process, which ramps up long before any school year ends, as the time when players officially become professionals.
“I guess my feeling on it is these guys, once their college football season is over, whatever their academic status is at the time, most of them are training for the combine, pro days, and probably aren’t in school at the time,” Pederson said.
“I wish we could have them here, but you got to abide by the rules and coach them up as fast as we can.”
Despite the missed time, Pederson believes that Seumalo will be able to catch up fairly quickly when training camp starts. Once he gets there, he’ll compete at left guard with Allen Barbre and Stefen Wisniewski.
Pederson said that Seumalo won’t necessarily be the primary player that will compete with Barbre (the expected starter), who can also swing out to tackle.
“The beauty of where we’re at with the offensive line is that we have some guys that can play multiple spots,” Pederson said.
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