Walker: Kaleb Eulls’ position switch not a first for him _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The Saints' Kasim Edebali (91) and Kaleb Eulls (71) work in drills during a morning practice in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Sean Payton doesn’t know Matt Williams, and Matt Williams doesn’t know Sean Payton.

But they both know Kaleb Eulls.

Payton coaches Eulls now.

Williams coached Eulls in high school.

And they both know when there’s a void, Eulls just might be the guy to fill it.

That might explain why Eulls, a defensive lineman as a rookie last season for the Saints, was nowhere to be found amongst the defensive guys wearing the black jerseys during Thursday’s practice.

Instead, Eulls was wearing white.

And no, this wasn’t some temporary change.

“He’s over there now,” Payton said. “We moved him to guard. We felt before the draft that was something we wanted to do. We spent some time in the offseason talking with him and going through that decision. We think he’s got a lot of the attributes you need. He’s smart. He’s tough. He’s got the size you’re looking for.”

Eulls played sporadically last season on the defensive line when he made the team as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State.

Eulls lined up with at left guard in Thursday’s practice. Payton is hoping Eulls can add depth to a position that most consider a weak spot along the offensive front.

Payton said it was something the team considered even before the NFL draft when the Saints didn’t select an offensive linemen with any of its five picks.

Eulls wasn’t available to the media after Thursday’s practice because he was still in the film room. Chances are, he’ll spend plenty of time there trying to learn his new position.

But fellow Saints guard Tim Lelito said Eulls is adjusting just fine to the switch.

“He’s doing great,” Lelito said “Last year when guys went down on the offensive line, Kaleb would come in and fill in on scout team for us. So I’m sure that’s where they got the idea to move him over. He’s very talented, very athletic gifted. But obviously, he is way behind every one else because we have been playing on the offensive line forever.”

Eulls, meanwhile, hasn’t played on the offensive line since high school when he was a tight end as a freshman and a sophomore.

By the time Eulls’ junior year rolled around, Williams made a switch far more drastic than the one Payton made.

He made the then-6-foot-4, 255 pound Eulls the largest high school quarterback in Mississippi for two seasons.

“We needed somebody that could give us a threat to go deep, and he could throw it the farthest, so we put him there,” Williams said. “He was excited about the change. That was when Tim Tebow was the rage back in the day, so he was excited. When he had the ball in his hands, good things would happen.”

Like Tebow, Eulls was big, dual-threat lefty. He rushed for close to 900 yards and threw for 712 his senior year while also doubling as a defensive lineman.

Now he will try to help the Saints offense.

Williams talked to Eulls during the offseason about the switch.

“He’s very upbeat about it,” Williams said. “He just wants to be a part of the team and wants to play. He has never been one of those prima-donna types who thought he was too good to play another position. He’s just going to do his job and do whatever they ask.”

And for now, that’s on the offensive line.

“Obviously it’s a big learning curve for him, but I think he’ll handle it,” Payton said.