THE DAYS OF THE FULLBACK HAVE RETURNED TO PHILADELPHIA. No, this isn't an April Fools' Day joke. The Eagles officially announced the signing of Ryan Mueller to a two-year contract.
#Eagles sign FB Ryan Mueller, a former linebacker for the Chargers.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) April 1, 2016
Welcome to Philly, @R_Mueller44! pic.twitter.com/6OXb2GvpZ9
The 24-year-old Mueller is native of Morristown, NJ. He measures in at 6-2, 245 pounds. Mueller played on the defensive line at Kansas State before being converted to a linebacker as a rookie with the Chargers last offseason. He also spent time on San Diego's practice squad in 2015.
So where does Mueller's fullback experience come in? Apparently he did some lead blocking in high school and college:
Football and landscaping were his two passions, and he excelled at both, starting as a defensive end and a fullback in high school and growing his landscaping business so large that he hired employees.
I've played all across the board in college. Even some fullback in college. I've tried to get my coach to let me play more at fullback. But he wants me to be the best defensive end I can be. Special teams is something Kansas State takes a lot of pride in. The NFL loves special teamers and having experience in that role is huge. I wish I could still play special teams, but they want me focused on defense.
What the Eagles are doing with Mueller is kind of similar to what the Eagles did what Dan Klecko back during the Andy Reid era. In 2008 the Eagles signed Klecko, formerly a defensive tackle, to convert him like they're doing with Mueller now.
Mueller has a couple connections to this current Eagles staff. The most obvious one is that he has some familiarity with former Chargers and current Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich. I don't know how much time they really spent together since Mueller was playing defense in San Diego, but they at least recognize each other. The other connection is that Mueller was invited to the Chiefs' local pro day last offseason. So Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has some familiarity with him as well.
Pederson talked about the possibility of adding a fullback earlier this offseason.
"I like the fullback position," said Pederson. "It’s a position that we want to evaluate this spring. I know there’s not necessarily a ‘fullback’ on the roster right now. We had one in Kansas City. [We’re] sort of on assignment to find one. I like the fullback position and if we can add one on the roster that can also be a four-core special teams guy. That’s probably his primary role."
Pederson also said backup tight end Trey Burton might get a look at fullback this spring.
The Eagles might not keep a fullback around just to have one. Mueller's likely going to need to prove he can actually block and contribute on special teams as well in order to make the final 53-man roster.