Warmack Gets a Second ‘Chance’ to Change his Narrative
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Back in the process leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, two different veteran scouts informed me that the best football player available was Alabama guard Chance Warmack.
Because of the position he played, however, Warmack was never in the conversation to go No. 1 overall but he did land in the top 10, an extremely rare occurrence for a guard because the position isn't as valued as much as many others in the NFL hierarchy.
Things didn't work out in Tennessee, however, for Warmack and when the Titans passed on their fifth-year team option, the writing was on the wall.
The year before free agency was set to begin, a text came in saying watch the Eagles when it came to Warmack, a bit curious considering the team already paid big money for Brandon Brooks at right guard back in 2016 and still had Allen Barbre and promising second-year player Isaac Seumalo set to do battle for the LG spot.
The tip turned out to be spot on, however, and Philadelphia came to terms on a one-year, $1.51 million, prove-it deal with the Detroit native.
So way did Warmack want to come to Philadelphia despite no obvious openings and the lure of more money elsewhere?
Look, no further than offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who mentored Warmack when he was becoming a star with the Crimson Tide.
"The NFL is a relationship-based business," Warmack said at his locker on Monday. "When you've been with a guy for two years prior to coming to the NFL and had the success we had together, (coming to Philadelphia) was a no-brainer."
That success Warmack spoke of included two national championships at Alabama, which essentially got both Stoutland and his top pupil to the NFL.
As for why things didn't click in Music City for Warmack, some point to the move to right guard after spending most of his time in Tuscaloosa on the other side. Warmack, however, seemed to intimate it was coaching, or lack thereof, with the Titans.
Nine-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Munchak was the Titans head coach when Warmack arrived and Hall of famer Bruce Matthews was the O-Line coach so it's tough to knock those resumes. But, by 2014 both of them were gone and new coach Ken Whisenhunt hired Bob Bostad to coach the OL. By last season, they were gone and Warmack has his third position coach in four years, Russ Grimm, and barely played after undergoing finger surgery.
Could some continuity have made the difference?
"The offensive line is a developmental position," Warmack asserted. "You can't just jump in and play at a high level. You have to develop. I know what (Stoutland) gets out of players. He got a lot out of me at Alabama and he's going to get a lot out of me here."
Early in OTAs, with Barbre dealing with a calf issue, Warmack was working at LG behind Seumalo and this week he got a few looks with the first-team, spelling Brooks at RG.
The odds seems long for Warmack but Frank Reich raved about the team's depth on the interior, which also includes veteran Stefen Wisniewski.
"Our second-team guards should be starting on most teams," the offensive coordinator gushed.
With Brooks, Seumalo and Barbre seemingly locked into roster spots, that could mean Warmack versus Wiz for the final spot and Wisniewski's versatility (he can also play center) and the fact he signed a three-year extension in the offseason and has $3.5M guaranteed on the books versus the $500K the Eagles' have to give Warmack make this a tough hill for the latter to climb.
"As long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I'm good," Warmack said. "I know there will be a spot for me, whether it's left or right (guard)."
Reich, meanwhile, is hopeful that the reunion with Stoutland will unlock what was missing in Tennessee. And if that's the case, the Eagles will find room for Warmack.
"I think it's really helpful for him to be back with Stout," Reich said. "For whatever reason, he just wasn't as productive (in Tennessee) as people were expecting. But I think there is something to the chemistry of being back with a coach that you've played some of your best football with. Stout is a great coach. I think he'll bring out the best in Chance."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen