PHILADELPHIA — How tough is it to make it in the NFL?
Let’s just say your resume includes 42 starts in a power conference and your college coach believes you could be an NFL starter in your rookie season.
In Tyler Orlosky’s case, that wasn’t even good enough to get him drafted.
The 24-year-old former West Virginia center began his professional journey in Philadelphia on Friday at the NovaCare Complex. Orlosky stood among a mixture of 46 draft picks, first-year players, UDFAs like himself, and tryout hopefuls aiming to catch the eye of coach Doug Pederson in the coming weeks.
Orlosky has already impressed one piece of the Eagles’ coaching staff: assistant offensive line coach and running-game coordinator Eugene Chung, a former first-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 1992.
On the surface, the Eagles don’t seem like the best fit for Orlosky. Many agents will tell you that it’s better to be a priority undrafted free agent than a seventh-round pick — not necessarily from your wallet’s perspective, but instead of being pigeonholed in one organization, a player gets to survey the landscape and chose a destination, making a potential 53-man roster spot more realistic.
Orlosky, meanwhile, was one of most high-profile gets in this class of undrafted players, a prospect many scouts had rated as the third-best player at his position behind only LSU pivot Ethan Pocic, a second-round pick in Seattle, and third-round Ohio State star Pat Elflein, who may start in Minnesota.
A three-year starter with the Mountaineers, Orlosky became an All-Big 12 selection after his senior campaign. He finished the season as one of Dana Holgorsen’s most trusted players.
“Obviously he has a lot of faith in me,” Orlosky told FanRagSports.com when discussing his college mentor after practice Friday. “I played for him for five years. It means a lot to me that he thinks that highly of me, and I plan on making him proud.”
With his options laid out in front of him, though, Orlosky chose to come to a place in Philadelphia which is very deep at the center position with veterans Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski and Josh Andrews, as well as emerging second-year player Isaac Seumalo, all capable of playing the position Orlosky excelled at in Morgantown.
From Orlosky’s standpoint it wasn’t about looking at the numbers, however; it was about finding a place he felt comfortable. That led him to the Eagles, where ex-teammates at WVU such as Wendell Smallwood, Rasul Douglas, and Shelton Gibson currently reside
“With Wendell being here, Rasul, Shelton being drafted here. Those relationships I had. It just went back to comfort and feeling this was the best fit for me,” Orlosky said. “Not necessarily the depth chart but this is where I feel best at.”
The real kicker, though, was Chung, who has already built a solid rapport with his new student.
“It just came back to my relationship with coach Chung,” Orlosky said. “He came and worked me out. I got to know him and really liked the way he coached, the style he had. That was huge.”
In the end, relationships got Orlosky to Philly, but the climb remains his own. He has already figured out that the easiest way to stick in the NFL is to expand his skill set.
“I understand the versatility is what makes people last in this league,” he said. “And obviously if (the Eagles) ask me to play (guard) obviously I will.”
The future of Kelce, a player many believe is on the trading block, would open a path to the 53 with the Eagles. If the status quo stays the same, however, the film Orlosky puts together in a comfortable environment could get him a job in another city.