Last year after the draft I wrote a post with some draft lessons that we got from Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman. Since we’re now talking about the draft a lot, I thought it would be good to reflect on them.
The Eagles were interested in players, not positions. Chip Kelly made it clear the Eagles had serious interest in Dion Jordan. Peter King mentioned today in a casual blurb the Eagles weren’t going to pick him, but it is impossible to know if that’s true or exactly what King was told. Since Chip went on the record as saying the Eagles liked Jordan, I’m assuming the interest was legit. When the Eagles didn’t get the dynamic edge rushing LB, you would think they would feel the need to find another one somewhere else. Never happened. They didn’t even add a UDFA LB.
The Eagles have LBs in Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole. What they were interested in was a player with big time ability and athleticism. When they didn’t get Jordan, they passed on LBs altogether.
Versatility is a crucial trait. Lane Johnson can play RT or LT. Zach Ertz can line up all over the place. Bennie Logan too. Earl Wolff can play FS or SS. David King can move around. Joe Kruger lined up all over at Utah. Kelly isn’t looking for static players that will sit in one spot and do the same thing over and over. He wants to be multiple on offense and defense. That means he needs players who can line up in multiple spots and fill a variety of roles.
Character mattered. Kelly said that the two most impressive interviews the Eagles had at the Combine were Matt Barkley and Bennie Logan. Those were players that those of us on the outside didn’t expect the team to take, but clearly the Eagles liked what they saw on tape, but also felt were the kind of guys they wanted on the team.
Earl Wolff, Jordan Poyer, and David King were also considered major team leaders.
Plans can change. For a long time, I thought the Eagles wanted a QB in the draft. My hope was for a mid-round pick, but there was lots of chatter about Geno Smith at #4 and EJ Manuel in the 2nd round. The day before and the day of the draft Dave Spadaro and Adam Caplan started laying hints that the Eagles might not take a QB at all.
My guess…and it is strictly a guess…is that the Eagles were going to take a QB late or not at all. The Eagles passed on Geno at 4 and 35. They passed on Manuel at 4. Think about the other QBs that the Eagles showed the most interest in. Matt Scott was a UDFA. Zac Dysert went in the 7th round. Ryan Griffin and Jeff Tuel were UDFAs.
So what happened? Matt Barkley happened. He was simply too good to pass up. The Eagles had him rated as a Top 50 player. They probably figured he would go in the 3rd round. When Barkley was sitting there on the board to open the 4th round, the was just too good not to go get. Barkley can be a starting QB in the NFL. Worst case scenario he’s a backup. Think about this…Matt Barkley was a 4th round pick. So was Mike Kafka. Which guy would you rather have?
I don’t want to get into a “what does this mean” discussion in this post. Let’s save that for strictly a Barkley discussion. The point is that good QBs are too important to pass on. Barkley has the potential to be a good QB. There is no guarantee that Barkley will pan out, but he was absolutely worth the risk of a 4th round pick.
I really think the line about focusing on players instead of positions is crucial. Kelly is looking for the right guys. He needs players to buy into his program and do things his way. There are some talented players that would not fit in. Some of those guys can be more trouble than they are worth.
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I only covered a handful of guys. I need time before I can comment on everyone.
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Questions you guys had…
Can Benn or BJ Cunningham contribute this year? While I hope that happens and think it would be great, you cannot count on either player. Benn is coming off an injury. Cunningham has yet to show he can play in the NFL.
Could the Eagles have interest in QB Brett Smith or Zach Mettenberger? Smith would make a ton of sense. He won’t be an early pick, but he’s a talented player who the coaches could develop. Mettenberger is coming off an ACL injury. He’s a pure pocket passer. Kelly already has Foles and Barkley. I think he’d rather add someone with a bit more athleticism.