How Important is Size?

Posted: January 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 75 Comments »

Chip Kelly’s most famous phrase as an Eagles coach is this…”Big people beat up little people.”

Andy Reid’s fastballs are gone. Kelly believes in size. He loves speed as well, but not enough to sacrifice size. I see nothing wrong with Kelly’s theory and it has worked pretty well so far. As the Eagles head into the offseason and prepare to bring in another set of new players, the desire for bigger guys gets more complicated.

2013 was all about filling holes. You could settle on some guys that were “good enough”. This season is more about improving. That means finding players that are good as well as big, which is obviously more difficult than just adding size. Let’s talk about OLB and Safety for instance.

Most people are in agreement that the Eagles need a pass rushing OLB. Right now Trent Cole has that job. He goes about 6-2, 260. The guess is that Kelly would prefer that LB to be about 6-4, 260. Does that mean that Kelly won’t settle for anyone less? Of course not. There will be some sliding scale between size and performance. Look at these 3 OLB prospects

* Dee Ford – Auburn – 6-2, 243

* Jeremiah Attaochu – Ga Tech – 6-3, 252

* Chris Smith – Arkansas – 6-1, 268

Ford is the fastest. He is the best pass rusher of the group. He was terrific in Senior Bowl practices this week. But Ford is also the lightest and has the shortest arms.

Attaochu has more career sacks than any current college player (31.5). He is the tallest of the trio and has the 2nd longest arms.

Smith is the shortest of the trio. He’s also the heaviest and has the longest arms. He had 8.5 sacks this year and had some good moments in Mobile.

Which guy would Kelly prefer? Is Ford too small for him? Will Kelly substitute height for arm length? How important is bulk? Obviously the real key here is performance. Just how good does an undersized player need to be in order to make size irrelevant?

There are no definitive answers to these questions. We will speculate for now, but we need more drafts and free agency periods to figure out just how obsessed Kelly is with size.

There are similar questions at Safety. The Eagles could go for bigger guys like Calvin Pryor and Clinton Ha-Ha Dix or they could go for a smaller guy like Lamarcus Joyner. Just how critical is size? Joyner is only about 5-8, 190. That is small. But this guy isn’t a normal player. He led Florida State with 5.5 sacks. He also had a couple of INTs and 3 FFs. Joyner made one standout play against the read-option in the national title game. He focused on the RB and at the last minute saw the QB keep the ball. Joyner spun and tackled the QB on the spot. Amazing play.

Dix wasn’t all that much of a playmaker. Pryor had 3 INTs and 2 FFs this year so he made some plays. Joyner is the biggest playmaker of the trio. How much do you value production vs size? Do you think Joyner can make those same plays in the NFL? I do think his situation will be helped by how well the Honey Badger played for the Cardinals. Both guys are similar in that they lacked ideal size, but were instinctive playmakers. I’d love the Eagles to take a chance on Joyner.

The Eagles are arguably the most scientific team in the league. At the Senior Bowl they measured players at the wrist and the knee. The reason for this is that it can give you an idea about a player’s frame and growth potential. The Eagles might see some players that need to get bigger or stronger and have the frame to do it. Those players are going to be of more interest than guys that are maxed out already.

We talk all the time about size, but the numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Trent Cole was 6-2, 243 at the 2005 Senior Bowl. He had a medium build and the frame to hold more weight. Dee Ford is the same size in terms of numbers, but he already has a thick, muscular build. I don’t think Ford can bulk up much beyond where he is.

Obviously the Eagles coaches and training staff will know this stuff infinitely better than me. I use the eyeball test to determine who looks as if they could get bigger. That’s where the weigh-in is important. It also helps to go down on the field and stand next to the players. You get a feel for how big they are when you’re right there with them.

I’m probably asking more questions than I am giving answers, but Kelly and his ideas are still very new to us. I don’t want to act as if I’ve got the answers when right now I’m learning this stuff just like you.

* * * * *

I wrote about the Senior Bowl and some potential targets for PE.com.

I still have a lot of learning to do when it comes to the CB class.

_


  • CSA

    Jimmy Bama said you had the biggest bar tab of the journalizers. How’s that happen drinking PBRs?

    • gherbox

      Maybe its a hipster town… I could see PBRs being pricy if thats the case.

    • A_T_G

      Like some of our past drafts, Tommy is more about quantity than quality.

      • Baloophi

        Ironically when it comes to drafts.

    • Mac

      They ran out of pudding cups and he had to start ordering the $10 bowl of mousse.

  • Tom from Hungary

    I did not do much research into this year’s safety class, but I’d prefer a somewhat bigger guy than Joyner, even if he is a playmaker. Great point about growth potential though, it really is a very important factor. Maybe Joyner can bulk up to become more NFL ready, but there is not much to do about his height, unless he has an unexpected late spurt. I do not know for sure whether his height would be a problem at safety in the NFL, I guess that ideally you’d want a somewhat taller guy (5-10 maybe).

    One thing that can of course make or break the case with a prospects is his character, which we usually can’t judge accurately. I tend to watch some interviews with players who seem to fit what Kelly wants (size, speed, athleticism etc.), but one can just guess if he is a high character guy. There are of course some indicators that you can take into account, like LSU’s #18, which by the way now belongs to ILB Lamin Barrow.

    • theycallmerob

      I agree with much of what you said in the 2nd paragraph. I think a lot of times, the character component comes down to two main categories- the Headline factor and the Interview factor.
      As you, Tommy, and many before have noted, the interviews are the absolute best gauge into a person’s intangibles. Teams can ask pointed questions about nutrition, habits, hobbies, home life, etc. and really attempt to put these guys on the spot. I actually like that Jimmie Ward, the safety prospect from N. Illinois, was open about his general laissez-faire policy towards nutrition (although he is changing that now). And as we all know, two current Eagles interviewed extremely well last year- Logan and Barkley. And I’ve been on the Barrow train since November :)
      Unfortunately, it’s a very small window between many of these interviews and the draft. I think this is where having Kelly and many other recent college coaches helps a lot- they’re familiar with the player from college competition as well as possible recruiting ties.
      Of course, I’m sure everyone here understands the Headline factor. Just like OL play, generally no news is good news. We can argue all day about whether or not the actions of players like Johnny Manziel (the partying, comments) and Clowney (inability to drive slower than 100 mph) are high or low character moves; sometimes, ESPN coverage is just not beneficial to a 20 yr old kid with a mic in his face or heavy scrutiny over their twitter account.

      • D3FB

        According to Jimmy it was a terrible interview that got Seantrel Henderson completely removed from the Eagles board already.

    • Anders

      3 of the best safeties in the NFL are:

      Earl Thomas – 5’10″ 208
      Jarius Byrd – 5’10″ 207
      Tyrann Mathieus – 5’9″ 186

      • Tom from Hungary

        Exactly, 5’10″ is a good height for a safety in the NFL.
        Joyner is 5’8″ though.

        I quickly browsed through all the safeties in the NFL on Wikipedia and the only 5′ 8″ safeties I could find are Jim Leonhard and Ross Ventrone. There are not many 5′ 9″ guys either: Kanorris Davis, Shamarko Thomas, Trenton Robinson and Tyrann Mathieu.

        It is of course possible I left out someone from these lists.

        The vast majority of safeties are 5’10″ or taller. Do not get me wrong, I’m not saying Joyner can’t make it in the NFL, I hope he does. If he bulks up and remains a playmaker he can absolutely be a good player. I’d just prefer the Eagles to go for someone else, if there is anyone else they like at safety. To me it seems that being an impact safety at 5’8″ would absolutely be an exception, not the rule.

        • Anders

          been a 5’8 safety would be an exception, but Joyner is such a good player. Tho a lot of people are projecting him to be a slot CB in the NFL

        • xeynon

          Bob Sanders was a Pro Bowl caliber player at about Joyner’s size. Of course, he could never stay on the field even at his physical peak and injuries ultimately derailed his career. With Joyner, the worry for me would be more about him wearing down physically than about his small size impacting his ability to play the position.

  • D3Center

    Tommy, any thoughts on Marcus Smith from Louisville at OLB? I know he is at least close to the size the Eagles would be looking for at 6’3.5″.

  • Mitchell

    Just watched some tape on Attaochu both as an DE (’13) and as an OLB (’12). REALLY liked what I saw. He is just relentless on every play and looks better as an OLB. Is he good enough to go #22? I am still a huge advocate of trading back in this draft, even to the second round. However if Pryor is there at 22 you almost have to pick him. The ideal situation would be to trade down with the Saints or something and still get Pryor, only to pick up an additional second or third rounder.

    • gherbox

      I would be willing to bet that as we get closer to draft day Attaochu will start getting more attention from the (so-called) experts.

      • Anders

        I have just seen a mock with with Pryor and Attaochu going in the first.

        • Barry Springer

          I’m not buying that….Pryor maybe. Attaochu will play out of position and get burned. Also, he struggles to break from the OT/OG at times when engaged. Having said that: gotta love his playmaking when his assignment is 3rd down pass rush off the edge. But he free lances too much. Needs coaching.

  • Anders

    Right now 3 of my favorite safeties are:

    Calvin Pryor
    Lemarcus Joyner
    Jimmy Ward

    All 3 have natural coverage skills and playmaking potential. I really hope the Eagles do not take Ward and Joyner of their board just because of their size

    • Mitchell

      You better get Kenny Ladler on that list.

      • Anders

        I like him and Tre Boston, but as later round picks. Pryor and Joyner are 1st/2nd round picks with Ward as a late 2nd/early 3rd type.

        • Mitchell

          Ladler could go in the 3rd/4th. I’m not sure about Boston though. The upside to Boston, though, is he has experience at both safety and corner. He had 5 ints last year and was reported at 6’1 190. I think he ended up being 5’11″ at the senior bow.

  • nopain23

    Calvin Pryor is officially my man crush of this upcoming draft…much like luke( skywalker) was a couple years ago.
    Is Pryor good enough to be taken or 22..or better yet will he last ’till 22?
    Also can anyone tell me why HaHa is rated so highly?.. I watched a ton of Alabama games this year and he just doesn’t jump out at you on film.
    It’s great to be an iggles fan again…..look at what Pete did in Seattle when given a chance to build HIS team.
    Cippah’ will do the same in Philly..
    Lastly, how does D. Buccanon compare to B. Dawk coming out of college…for some strange feeling this guy reminds me of Dawkins?..no?

    • Anders

      Dawk is a HOF (he will get in). I say Dawk was a better coverage safety than him and actually reminds me of Pryor.

  • goeagles55

    Tommy, some would argue that size is not important when filling holes, it’s how you use the size that you do have. Towards the end of his tenure, Joe Banner often tried to make the most out of undersized assets.

    • Anders

      How you use your lack of size can only get you so far :P

    • A_T_G

      If you want to go deep, into the playoffs, you need size too.

      • theycallmerob

        I’d say it’s more important that your rush gets home quickly; either traditionally or through a violent blitz attack.

        • A_T_G

          I started to decipher the subtext to that one, then got scared, and stopped. I am going to find somewhere warm and bright to sit now.

  • CSA

    The title of this article makes feel like I’m reading Cosmo and not Igglesblitz.

    • TommyLawlor

      Dating tips on page 69!!!

  • D-von

    Two players that aren’t at the senior bowl but have both the size and play-making ability: Jackson Jeffcoat (OLB/DE) and Ed Reynolds (S)

    • Anders

      Sadly Reynolds is a pure SS imo. Some might have another opinion, but I cant see him cover deep

      • D-von

        I don’t see how. Reynolds’ biggest weakness is run support. He’s better in pass defense than run defense

  • Anders

    btw can somebody tell me why Seattle gets so much attention for drafting big CBs? Its not like it is something new when the Eagles drafted Bobby Taylor our 2 starting CBs was 6-3 215 and 6-1 200.

    • nevadausa16

      deleted

  • Michael Winter Cho

    I’m a little over Eagles fans’ obsession with size. Size isn’t important so much as whether they are good players. Big JAGs do not beat little Pro-Bowlers. If you can put together a roster of All-Pro giants at every position, you will probably win the Superbowl, but every other team in the league–by the way, ruthless, intelligent billionaires own those, too–are trying for those same guys. Generally you are not going to be successful trying to do the same thing everyone else is trying to do. Think of Moneyball, Miami Heat smallball, Dirk Nowitzki, the 7′ 3-pointer for the Mavs, the Spurs’ overseas scouting and rest protocol, Bellichek’s early 2000s defenses, and yes–even Reid’s “fastballs”. Kelly’s emphasis on the run game is along the same lines. Sometimes you can gain an edge finding talent that has been overlooked because it doesn’t fit the mold.
    I’m pretty confident Chip’s system will be successful, but if we run into a team full of shorter, better players, we’re still going to lose.

    • shah8

      How can you be a little over, when the previous regime had such terrible drafts because they focused on high motor people with obvious deficiencies, and finding out that deficiencies are called that, for a reason? Age, height, speed…

      Actually, when it comes right down to it, the best of this kind of bargain revolves around how well people with difficencies overcome their deficiencies, not how talented they are, or how hard they work. For example, Boykin can jump, really, really, well. That doesn’t mean that he really can play outside corner without a surfeit of veteran skill and experience–too light. It does mean that he’s far more able to be a star when put in spots that doesn’t emphasis height. Or you can look at Russel Wilson. He has huge hands, and he also has a very high delivery–this tends to make him effective enough in the pocket such that he can maximally use throwing lanes. THEN the fact that he’s such an awesome passer on the run helps makes him into a star. That sort of thinking is why you can pretty easily guess that Manziel is very unlikely to be a good prospect, even putting aside the fact that he doesn’t truly have a pro-caliber arm. Manziel doesn’t really have what it takes to be especially useful passer from the pocket. Not the arm, not really the hand size, nor the mechanics, or the ability to move around in it. You might think that he can run around a lot, like Russel, but Manziel doesn’t have the foundation of physical talent and skill to make running around like Russel work.

      This is why Jarrett was such a bust, or why Graham was of such limited utility, even taking microfracture surgery into account. The first simply didn’t have the physical talent to push his tackling skills to the fore, and the second didn’t really have the sort of skill base that helps him cope with his lack of measurables. Hence, only bull rushes.

      • Anders

        Jarrett was 6’0 200 pounds, how is that small? Also Jarrett was one of the best tacklers in college football, the problem for him was pure mental and the same for Watkins.

        Hell we picked Curtis Marsh in the 3rd who is 6-2 200, but his nice size isnt really working out so well while 5’9″ Brandon Boykin is one of the best picks we have made?

        • shah8

          This doesn’t read like a point that’s responsive to what I said, for example, I’ve never said that Jarrett’s issue was being small. He’s not fast and he’s not agile. That and his poor instincts led him to be out of place all the time. Which means, he’s never getting to use his tackling skills. If he had real athletic talent, then he’d play far more like Kendricks, or at worst, like Ernie Sims.

          The point still remains–the primary issue with undertalent is to understand how a prospect handles his undertalent *first*, and then understand how he’s talented.

          • Michael Winter Cho

            I gotta run, but I never said anything about undertalent, I specifically mentioned size. If someone is effective at his position, I don’t care about his size. If he’s effective, he’s talented.

          • shah8

            Not having the size *is* undertalent for whatever position. Gauging whether someone is successful enough requires that you take that into account. It was a failure of the previous regime to do so that left us with such a thin larder in the defense.

          • Michael Winter Cho

            1. Vick is small. Is he undertalented?
            2. Blowing the Asomugha and DRC signings and missing on Watkins and a string of busts on DLine (1st rounders) were the reasons for the thin larder. Size was not part of that.
            Again, see if someone is effective or not. If he is not, maybe he’s too small.

          • shah8

            Yes, Vick has an issue with undertalent. He can’t do the things Foles can do, by virtue of Foles being properly tall, particularly in short, relatively straight ahead passes, such as those liable to be useful for red zone passing in goal to go situations. He compensates by rushing and by being a great intermediate and deep passer. Drew Brees effectively does the same thing, except that he throws with better touch and better on the run, but doesn’t pose the scramble risks that forces a simpler defense.

            You keep going on about *size*, when I’m talking about physical inadequacy in general. I know that’s part of the topic, but that’s just Chip Kelly’s saying. You’re just, deliberately or not so, failing to understand that this this Kelly being of a very Al Davis mind. He means speed, long arms, and all that jazz, too. Bigger people beat up little people is a properly aggressive way to say this.

          • Mitchell

            WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY!!!! “He can’t do the things Foles can do.” I need some new undies.

          • shah8

            You don’t pick short quarterbacks any more than you pick quarterbacks with dubious arms or poor field vision. If you do, it’s because they are *competent enough* in the weaknesses, and exceptionally talented enough in other ways to compensate for said weaknesses. Brees has had bad years when he was young, and I bet he had to do a lot of treading water, much of it because he was short. He learned to deal effectively, and he also moved to a team whose recent tradition tended towards great offenses–he effectively inherited Aaron Brook’s offense, after Brooks became too poor an athlete to cover for his knucklehead tendencies.

          • Mitchell

            The tides. They be a changin’. *salty pirate voice

          • Sean

            I’m sorry, but undertalent is not a word. Much like with ‘fetch’, just using it over and over again won’t make it one either.

          • shah8

            read what you write.

          • Sean

            That’s a helpful piece of advice; I’ve been going through life reading only what I draw.

  • BlindChow

    A few Eagles players in this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRqKYXcL-2U

    • Tumtum

      This is the best thing ever.

    • theycallmerob

      Agree with Harbaugh. Dracula has just gotta go; been killing their cap situation for years

  • Tumtum

    Speaking of how scientific the Eagles are: I heard a guy doing a guest spot on the radio, who does a show on the station that broadcasts the Seahawks. He made it a point to stress how well conditioned and cared for the players were. He mentioned things like heart monitors on the playing field and eating habits. He went on and on and on about it. He also made mention (5+ times.. not kidding) of how Chip paved the way and Carroll stole it when he went to the NFL. The guys on the radio here in DC (or maybe I was closer to home in my commute and it was Baltimore I dunno) didn’t really bite on the subject, but the guy went on and on.

    I bet in 5 years every team has implemented some level of Sports Science. Here I was hoping it would be our Ace foreverzzzz.

    • Baloophi

      While we may ultimately lose any advantage we now have in sports science, I’m excited knowing we have the guy who is forward-thinking enough to accurately predict an edge and exploit it… be it in the realm of smoothies, fast-paced offenses, 4th down attempts, 2pt. conversions or whatever.

      In a copy-cat league, you want to be ahead of the curve, and we have the guy who sets the curve. If you’re drafting players and installing schemes based on recency bias, you’re basically shooting for average.

      Take, for example, the “sudden” interest in long corners. When every team loads up on tall CB’s with long arms, offenses will shift to quicker receivers who can run past or out-cut these guys, and then after some team has the brilliant idea of drafting shorter CB’s who are quick enough to cover those receivers, everyone will start drafting those guys again.

      I feel like we’ve got a coach who sees all of this and decides to run the ball.

      • Michael Winter Cho

        Right. Just remember, Andy was ahead of the curve at one point, too. :)

        • Baloophi

          He’s certainly shaped like a bell curve.

      • theycallmerob

        The science has always been known. It takes a special coach and buy-in to implement it with 53 guys. Hence the description of Kelly as a program-builder.
        Also, fun read /video of you haven’t seen: grantland.com/features/grantland-channel-coach-never-punts/

  • planetx1971

    Hey guys, where’s the little dude (Joyner) projecting at the moment? just curious …

    • cliff henny

      as always, depends where you look. but mid 2nd to late 3rd.

    • theycallmerob

      Projected to be in midnight green come September

      • planetx1971

        Any seats left on that bandwagon? I’m thinking of hopping on it now that I’ve researched him a bit :)

  • Baloophi

    @ theycallmerob

    I know you’re donning an engineer’s cap and shoveling coal into the Lamin Barrow train, but I’m curious how you (or anyone else) see the rest of the ILB field.

    C.J. Mosely
    Christian Jones
    Chris Borland
    Yawin Smallwood
    Shayne Skov
    DeDe Lattimore

    There’s also the Van Noy conversion thought and I’m sure many guys I didn’t think of.

    Lastly, how important do you think it is to add an ILB this year? On the surface it doesn’t seem like an immediate area of need (compared to S, CB, OLB), but you can always generate questions about depth and our starters: Demeco ($$$, age?) and Kendricks (inconsistency).

    • theycallmerob

      IMO, tremendous depth at ILB this year, along with OL. I haven’t watched too much on these guys, DB has always been my passion and experience, but saw a few guys whike watching their teammates.

      • Baloophi

        Gotcha.

        Sometimes I wonder if a defense with elite guys (FSU) makes it hard to scout them individually. An interesting Catch 22… or Break-Up 22?

        • D3FB

          It does. What I find can be even harder are the players on garbage defenses that feel they have to make a big play to stop a drive, which then hurts their overall performance because they have to freelance.

    • D3FB

      Mosley- Stud. Fast, moves well, understands how offenses are attacking. Just as good attacking the LOS as he is dropping. Top ILB.

      Jones- Hard to get a feel for him. Played 43OLB and then moved to DE. Seemed to be a better athlete than football player on junior film. Senior film I’ve watched has been intriguing but he’s been at DE. Drafting him for ILB would be a projection.

      Borland- Has looked ok in the stuff I’ve seen. Haven’t studied him extensively because there is no way in hell the coaches want two sub 6′ ILBs.

      Smallwood- Haven’t watched much.

      Barrow- Takes on linemen aggressively but doesn’t disengage well. Ok in coverage. Ok player but doesn’t really jump out at you.

      Skov- Loved him a few years ago. Big time playmaker. Knee injury has really robbed him of some speed. He was better this year in that department and is probably ok for the short term, but as soon as he loses a half step he’s probably done. If he had been born 10 years earlier would’ve been a top 15 pick.

      DeDe Lattimore- He hits hard. Not gonna say much else cuz he doesn’t do much else.

      You’re going to start to hear the name Jordan Zumwalt alot. He will get overdrafted. He’s 6’4 and hits like a Mac truck. Has some coverage skills. Like him on day 3, but alot of people are going to overvalue him in the coming months. Too inconsistent. Also had some weird measurements at Senior Bowl.

      The two ILBs I really want the Eagles to take a hard long look at are:

      James Morris, Iowa, 6’2, 240: Does it all. Takes on blocks, rushes the passer, classic big 10 lb. Reads his keys well and plays fundamental football. I told another commenter the other day that if I had one player to show a 12 year old how to play LB I would use Morris.

      http://draftbreakdown.com/video/james-morris-vs-nebraska-2013/

      Glenn Carson, Penn State 6’3, 235: PSU is LBU. Carson is just the latest in the long line of good linebackers. Has a good build, has a good feel for zone coverage. Takes on linemen. Not a perfect player but has the ability to be a backup who can grow into a good starter.

      With Carson you just have to go watch DaQuan Jones tape.

      • Mitchell

        great stuff as always big guy.

      • planetx1971

        Wow. REALLY good stuff man.

        • Mitchell

          It always is bro.

      • Baloophi

        Namaste.

      • Insomniac

        Smallwood is about 6’3 and 245.

        Smallwood is a sideline to sideline guy. He’s a better run stopper than he is cover linebacker right now. He’s not the fastest LB but has enough speed to cover well. One key thing is his instincts. He sniffs out plays well but isn’t always in position to stop it. As for coverage, he’ll drop back and sometimes doesn’t trust what he’s seeing. From what little blitzing I’ve seen him do, he’s pretty good at finding the hole and getting to the QB. Tackles decently but would like to see him wrap up a bit more. He’s pretty good.

        The 2013 Michigan tape shows what he could do.

        • Baloophi

          Nice info on Smallwood.

          6’3, 245? I’d hate to meet Bigwood! Self-Zing!

        • D3FB

          Just watched the Michigan tape. I’d say he’s a better downhill player than a read and react. Alot of that is due to his speed and his penchant for kinda bouncing around while reading plays. Agree he’s only got functional speed. Not a bad player. Personally I think you get a pretty similar player in Carson but 3 rounds later.

          Good to hear DaQuan has been holding up to double teams and not completely blowing up at the Senior bowl. He would be my top NT target with Smallwood’s teammate Shamar Stephens being my next favorite.

  • Mitchell

    How much of a skill difference is there between Attaucho and Mack?

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