Eagles stayed with Kelly's blueprint for draft

Variable transmission: Unlike the previous Eagles coach, Chip Kelly has shown a willingness to share interesting information.
Variable transmission: Unlike the previous Eagles coach, Chip Kelly has shown a willingness to share interesting information. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: April 30, 2013

Chip Kelly already has found one component of NFL coaching that he prefers to college: player acquisition.

At Oregon, Kelly spent years scouting and building relationships with fickle teenagers and trying to persuade them to play in Eugene. In the NFL, Kelly spent a few months watching the best college prospects and picked the players he wanted when it was the Eagles' turn.

"It's over and done with in three days and you're not on the phone with a 16-year-old high school kid for five years," Kelly said. "Three days and it's done. There's nothing you can say about it."

Kelly's first draft experience as Eagles coach has come and gone, and the true value of the eight players chosen won't be realized until Kelly spends two or three years in Andy Reid's old office at the NovaCare Complex.

What is clear, though, is the imprint Kelly has made on the team. So much discussion leading up to the draft appropriately went to whether Kelly or general manager Howie Roseman would have final say, and the consistent response was that each pick would be a collaborative effort. However, Kelly made it clear to Roseman during January's job interviews the type of players he desires.

When Kelly describes the Eagles picks, he often uses measurements that a casual fan might not appreciate. And they go beyond speed, with which Kelly often is associated.

Arm length and hand size are important to Kelly. So is height, and how much weight a player can carry on his frame.

Kelly clearly wanted to get bigger in this draft, and the players the Eagles selected fit within prototypes for each position. Kelly repeated one of the team philosophies: "Big people beat up little people." The averages for the eight Eagles picks are 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, and 4.74-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

"If you constantly take the overachiever at every position, you're going to be too small," Kelly said. "If you take the short defensive tackle backed up by the short middle linebacker backed up by the short safety, then all of a sudden you're going to get run over.

"I think there's some certain lines where there is a combination of all of it. I think you still have to adhere to the fact that we wanted to get bigger, and we felt like we did. I think size is important, but there's not one factor that overrides the other."

Roseman said the Eagles cannot "sacrifice ability for size," and they cannot take a big player who lacks talent. They drafted big players, many of whom Kelly or assistants on his staff have seen play.

Kelly is from the Pac-12. Eight of his assistants coached in college football last season, all from four conferences: the Pac-12, Big 12, Atlantic Coast, and Southeastern. All eight Eagles draft picks came from those conferences, and Kelly knew four of the players when they were coming out of high school. He had offered scholarships to two of them.

Part of this is coincidence. It does not require coaching against second-round pick Zach Ertz to deduce that he was perhaps the finest tight end in the country last season at Stanford. And Kelly was clear that he did not let personal experience get in the way of evaluation.

That was especially apparent with Oregon players - five of whom were drafted. Kelly did not take one. This was not by design, and Kelly wanted Dion Jordan in the first round before Jordan was taken No. 3 overall. Kelly said he "would have loved to" have taken linebacker Kiko Alonso before the Buffalo Bills snatched him in the second round.

Kelly did not want to sacrifice the price to trade up for Jordan in the first round. In fact, the only player Kelly felt compelled to trade up for was Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley, because there was such a disparity between the value on the draft board and the point in the draft, the coach said.

"I think when you start to get emotional and get involved - and I was pretty conscious of that - then what do you have to do to move up?" Kelly said. "It's the accumulation of putting the whole team together. What are you willing to sacrifice to get one player?"

And this is where it differs from college football. At Oregon, he could offer a scholarship to any players he liked, as he long as he had a spot. In the NFL, he has a finite number of picks, and must wait for others to have a turn.

"The unfortunate part is that you wish we had more picks because we felt like there were some real quality players there," Kelly said.

"You pick and then you kind of waited your turn and hope when you get your chance to pick again that there were some other good guys up there, and we felt like that's what happened."


Eagles' 2013 Draft Picks

ROUND 1

Lane Johnson

(Fourth overall)

Offensive tackle,

Oklahoma

ROUND 2

Zach Ertz

(35th) Tight end,

Stanford

ROUND 3

Bennie Logan

(67th) Defensive tackle, LSU

ROUND 4

Matt Barkley

(98th) Quarterback, Southern Cal

ROUND 5

Earl Wolff

(136th) Defensive back, N.C. State

ROUND 7

Joe Kruger

(212th) Defensive end, Utah

Jordan Poyer

(218th) Defensive back, Oregon State

David King

(239th) Defensive back, Oklahoma


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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