It was just one preseason game, but there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by the debuts of the Eagles’ two biggest draft picks.
Just ask Jeff Stoutland.
During a session with all the Eagles’ position coaches, the old-school offensive line coach answered several questions from reporters about sixth-round pick Matt Pryor and seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata. He raved about both.
Pryor (6-7, 332) and Mailata (6-8, 346) are obviously at very different stages of their careers, but both seem to have potential to match their massive frames. While Pryor started 31 games at TCU before getting drafted, Mailata began playing American football less than a year ago. Thursday night’s game was Pryor’s first in the NFL; it was Mailata’s first … ever.
But both showed special attributes.
Here is part of Stoutland’s session with reporters that focused on the two mammoth rookies:
Jordan Mailata … what did you see last night? Is it conceivable he can help you this year at all?
“Anybody that’s here has the potential to help us at some point. I saw a player that was a little nervous starting. That was his first football game of his life. I think he probably put pads on maybe 12 times so far in his life. But after early on, he really settled in and tried to apply the techniques we’re teaching him. I think he did a nice job with that part of it. To me, his development and his improvement each and every day is really good.”
He seems to not get discouraged. It would be easy to get discouraged.
“I think that’s his personality. He’s got the ability to let something go and just kind of focus on what it is. He still has a long way to go, but just the amount of development and learning that he has, because he’s an intelligent guy, I’m impressed with that.”
Are you able to take a step back and realize how amazing that is, that a guy who is playing in his first football game was able to hold his own?
“Well, that’s why he’s here. Howie (Roseman) and the staff and Joe Douglas, were able to identify this guy. And he definitely has unique characteristics. And we’re looking for those kinds of players when we go out there and get ready for the draft. That’s what it takes to play in this league and be good. Because everybody is good. You’re trying to find somebody who has some unique quality to him. He’s an interesting guy; no doubt about it.
“He’s got danger written all over him. He can run fast, he’s big. There’s a lot of things he has to learn, but how many people have those things? He’s unique.”
Why has Matt Pryor been playing more guard than tackle?
“His tackle ability to me is much more fine-tuned than his guard ability. That’s why I can put him at tackle in two seconds and he’s comfortable there. The guard position for him is a little bit newer. Some different concepts and ideas. That’s why he’s primarily playing that guard right now. I feel very comfortable if I flipped him over to tackle, he could do that.”
Why'd he fall to the [sixth] round? It seems like he has some serious ability.
“I don’t know. I don’t know why. I know I was watching the board and I was like, ‘Please stay there.’”
Did you work him out?
“We worked him out.”
What kind of grade did you give him? What did you think he was capable of being?
“I don’t give grades. I’m not in that world. Here’s what I do: I go out, work guys out and I say, ‘Look, of all the guys that we’re working out, this guy, this guy, this guy, they have it. I don’t know where they fall on your board or whatever. But I’m just telling you, these guys are the guys that I feel can play in this league.”
What was it about Pryor?
“Strong. Strong hands. Strong hands. Great balance. He has good balance and body control. When you’re working guys out and you're smooth. Like, Jason Peters is so smooth at what he does, he economizes all his motion. And Matt has that. He has a little bit of that. His hands are strong now. Like, nobody else. When he punches you, he puts a hole in you.”
He was saying you can’t punch as much here as in college …
“No, I backed him off a little bit. Just because I want him to maintain his balance. But you see it in the run game, like in the two-point play. He couldn’t quite get his head across, but he just drove that man and that play into the end zone. And really, the back rode the wave to get that two-point conversion. Because Matt was in a tough situation, but he was able to make that block. He was in a bad situation, but he was still able to make it.”