Since not everyone may fully read the comments section, I decided to answer some key topics in the form of a post. Today’s mock draft had a lot of people confused and curious.
Let’s start with the TE position. Andy Reid is no longer the coach. The days of having one good TE and one developmental guy are over. Chip Kelly is going to do things differently. There are 2 kinds of TEs. The “Y” is a traditional TE. He will be 6-4 or taller and 250 or more. The other spot is the “F”. This is a “move TE” or “Joker”. I’ve simply gone with referring to him as the H-back. This player will be approximately 6-3, 245.
The Eagles are set with Brent Celek and James Casey as the starters at these spots. Kelly will want depth. I think he’ll be especially interested in another “Y”. That’s why I had the Eagles take Zach Ertz. He is 6-5. He’s only 249, but that is close enough. He has good hands and is very natural catching the ball downfield. Ertz can line up in tight, in the slot, or out wide. We know Kelly loves versatile, athletic players.
Many of you didn’t care for Ertz. That’s fine, but understand that what you or I want is irrelevant compared to what Chip Kelly wants. We all wanted Andy to run the ball. Didn’t happen. Some of you wanted a better blocking TE. Others wanted a guy with longer arms. Some thought using an early pick on a TE was dumb. I think it is highly likely that the Eagles will take a TE in the 2nd or 3rd round. The team has aggressively scouted the top TEs. They’ve sent the TEs coach out to get a close-up look at the prospects. That’s not an accident. The Eagles have genuine interest.
Maybe the team will take Escobar or Kelce or McDonald. I went with Ertz in the mock because that’s the player I think they’ll like the most. Simple as that.
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I had the Eagles take a WR. A small WR at that. Many didn’t like that move.
Marquise Goodwin isn’t DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin. Those guys are outside receivers. They are not comfortable in the slot. Goodwin played outside and the slot at Texas. He’s comfortable at working the middle of the field. Kelly wants weapons in the slot. Jason Avant is a good slot receiver, but I’m not sure anyone has ever referred to him as a weapon.
Damaris Johnson is quick and elusive, but lacks explosive speed. Goodwin is a much better version of Johnson. Goodwin is also a talented KOR. That was a weak spot in 2012. We hope that Brandon Boykin takes a big jump forward, but it would be nice to have some serious competition for him.
As to the size issue…Kelly is a new coach and things are going to be different. Since taking over, the Eagles traded for Arrelious Benn and signed Ifeanyi Momah, 2 big WRs. The team still has Riley Cooper (big) and Jeremy Maclin (average size) in place. We don’t know who will make the final cuts, but this group has the potential to be the biggest set of Eagles WRs in a while.
Depending on Mac’s future, the Eagles could add a big WR as a starter in 2014. We need to see how Mac does this year, as well as the other players. The Eagles have looked at some big WRs this spring and could go in that direction, but they won’t feel the need to do that. There is enough size in place for the Eagles to run some big receiver packages. And if the team does add the right TE, that player could be like another big receiver in the mix.
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What about DE? The Eagles have Cedric Thornton penciled in as the starter right now. That could change. Thornton has the potential to do a fine job in that role. He’s unproven so he could also struggle.
DE won’t have the same level of importance in this defense. It isn’t a position where players are expected to get to the QB. Are there exceptions to that rule? Of course. All teams would love to have JJ Watt out there. Seattle did just fine with Red Bryant, a failed DT, as their starting 5-tech. The Chiefs spent a Top 5 pick on Tyson Jackson to play DE for them. Wonder how much they regret that.
We don’t know how Kelly values DE. Will he go for one early? Will he go for a run stuffer like Star Lotulelei or a pass rusher like Datone Jones? Does he go for an athlete like Margus Hunt or a big body like John Jenkins?
Part of the point here is that not everything can be the most important position. Andy Reid didn’t value LBs. In this scheme, LBs are critical. That means the DL has to slide down a notch. Deep Purple singer Ian Gillen once joked to the sound techs at a live show to “make everything louder than everything else”. I think too often fans get caught up in that kind of a mentality. You must have priorities. We knew what they were with Reid. We’re flying blind when it comes to Chip Kelly and his defense.
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Some position will get ignored or “under-addressed”.
This is simply reality. You only have 4 picks in the Top 105 range. That’s where you’re most likely to find real help for your team. We need the Eagles to go for talent over need (see Jaiquawn Jarrett for further explanation). This means that DL or LB or CB or S or some other position is not going to be addressed as people want.
Please keep in mind that the Eagles are not a one-year project. It will take time for Kelly to find the right players to make his systems work up to their full potential. The offense is in better shape right now than the defense, but that does not mean that we’re going to see the Eagles load up on D. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are looking at all kinds of scenarios. They want to add as much talent as possible. Depending on how the board looks, that could mean an offensive draft early on.
If that happens, it doesn’t mean Kelly is ignoring the defense. It would simply mean that they liked the offensive players available better and felt that was the way to go. As I noted earlier today, I do think seeing how Thornton, Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Antonio Dixon, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and the other defensive players perform is going to be important for figuring out what to do long term.
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These are not Eagles-centric. These are generic rankings and based on a 4-3 defensive scheme. I am working on Eagles rankings that will reflect what Chip Kelly likes in players and our hybrid defense. I’ll post that stuff in the next week or so.