Eagles pick tight end Zach Ertz

Stanford tight end Zach Ertz was selected by Eagles with the 35th overall pick.
Stanford tight end Zach Ertz was selected by Eagles with the 35th overall pick. (PAUL SAKUMA / Associated Press)
Posted: April 28, 2013

The first three picks the Eagles made in the NFL draft, including their second- and third-round selections, have Chip Kelly's imprints all over them.

The two players the Eagles took on Friday night - Stanford tight end Zach Ertz and LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan - played on two of the three teams that beat Oregon in Kelly's last two years there.

And while Kelly never faced Oklahoma during his four seasons as Ducks head coach, tackle Lane Johnson, the Birds' top pick, played in an up-tempo offense that ran almost as many plays last season as Oregon's.

Ertz burned Kelly last season when he caught 11 passes for 106 yards and the game-tying touchdown. And Logan played on one of college football's best defensive fronts when the Tigers beat the Ducks, 40-27, in the 2011 season opener.

Kelly was asked if his institutional knowledge on college players played a part in the Eagles' evaluations.

"Zach a little bit more because he was in our league, and I was real familiar with him," Kelly said. "We played Bennie two years ago in the opening game. But obviously, you really had to know where he was on the field. . . . It helps. You had a chance to go against him. You see his motor. You see how hard he plays. It gives you a little bit of insight."

While some wondered how much input Kelly would have in the draft - being new to the process - the first three picks suggest that he is very involved. Some may wonder if he's already running the show.

Howie Roseman, who stood in Andy Reid's shadow for three seasons as general manager, has spent the last nine months crafting the draft board. He agreed that there has been movement since Kelly was hired and that the new coach's college experience has influenced decisions.

"You talk about the opportunity to recruit a lot of these kids and know their background and play against them and see how they are in pregame, so that's obviously a huge resource with us," Roseman said.

Kelly said he tried to recruit Ertz. Oregon wasn't the only team that struggled to stop the 6-foot-5, 249-pound tight end last season. Ertz caught 69 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns and was named an all-American.

"He's a mismatch nightmare," Kelly said. "If you get him isolated on a defensive back, he's very, very difficult to cover because of his size. But he's also too athletic to put linebackers on him."

The Eagles took the 22-year-old with the third pick in the second round and passed on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. The New York Jets ended up taking Smith, who some thought would stylistically mesh with Kelly's offense, with the 39th overall pick.

The Birds may add a developmental quarterback on Saturday, but this season's starting job will be won by either Michael Vick or Nick Foles.

The winner will have plenty of options in the passing game. The Eagles now have three starting-caliber tight ends. Brent Celek has been the starter for the last four years. James Casey was signed as a free agent in the offseason after four seasons in Houston where he mostly played as a halfback.

Reserve Clay Harbor could be the odd man out - or not. Kelly said he plans to use his tight ends extensively and could even line up three on the same play.

"If they go three linebackers, we split them up and throw passes. If they go three DB's, we smash them. So pick your poison."

Kelly recalled the controversial touchdown catch Ertz made last November that led to Oregon's lone loss and said he told the tight end at the combine that he didn't think it was good. Ertz sent a thank-you note afterward but added a postscript that reminded Kelly of his grab.

"I think one of the things you have to do in life is write handwritten notes," Ertz said. "I think that says a lot about you. I think at the end of the day I wanted to remind him what happened when we played against him and just to make sure that I got the last laugh."

The 6-2, 309-pound Logan was overshadowed at LSU by defensive linemen Michael Brockers and Barkevious Mingo, but Kelly said the Eagles liked his versatility. Logan said he played almost all the positions on the Tigers front.

Asked whether Logan could play nose tackle, Kelly would only say he'll play inside. The coach has yet to reveal the scheme up front, other than that it will be a hybrid. But Logan said the Eagles told him at the combine that it will be a 3-4 base front.

"He's a great fit for us," Kelly said. "I think he can be a three-down player."

The Eagles will make their final six selections on Saturday. They have picks in the fourth and fifth rounds and four in the seventh. Roseman has been adept at trading back and adding picks in the past, but the Eagles stood pat on the first two days.

"I think coach is holding me back here," Roseman joked.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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