Eagles Wake-Up Call: Chip Kelly And the TE Position

One thing we are learning about Chip Kelly is that he has very specific tastes when it comes to his personnel.

“He’s going to be very defined on the things that he’s looking for in players by positions,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “Which is great for us as a personnel staff, to make sure that we know specifics for each position, dictated by the coaching staff.

“There are deal-breakers. Maybe it’s at a particular position that size is a particular function that you need there, or a certain speed.”

Gaining an understanding of what Kelly values will help us better forecast team moves going forward. What better way to begin the education process than looking at the type of players he was drawn to at Oregon?

Let’s focus in on tight ends. Below is a list of the TEs that saw action in 2012 under Kelly.

Name
Height
Weight
Colt Lyerla6-5238
Koa Ka'Ai6-4249
Pharaoh Brown6-6230
T.J. Daniel6-6230

What immediately jumps off the page is that Kelly likes his tight ends to have some height to them, with three of the four ends on his roster at 6-5 or above. He even tried Dion Jordan (listed at 6-6 or 6-7, depending on where you look) at tight end before flipping him to the defensive side of the ball his sophomore season. Go through the position dating back to when Kelly took over at Oregon, and you will find  very similar body types.

“That’s what we strive for and that’s what we look for in recruiting,” said Kelly heading into last season. “We’ve got some good size and along with that good athletic ability.”

Athleticism is an important part of the equation. Lyerla was Oregon’s top tight end last season, finishing with 25 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns. He also lined up in the backfield for the Ducks and carried the ball 13 times for 77 yards (5.9 average) with a TD.

So, does anyone on the market fit the bill?

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com released a list of the top 85 free agents to-be. Six are tight ends. They are:

17) Tony Gonzalez (ATL)
Size: 6-5, 247
Age: 37
Skinny: Tough to envision the future Hall-of-Famer playing anywhere but Atlanta if he decides to return for another season.

29) Dustin Keller (NYJ)
Size: 6-2, 250
Age: 28
Skinny: Keller missed half the ’12 season with hamstring and leg injuries.

34) Fred Davis (WAS)
Size: 6-4, 247
Age: 27
Skinny: Davis tore his Achilles in Week 7 last season.

47) Delanie Walker (SFO)
Size: 6-0, 242
Age: 28
Skinny: The height isn’t there, but the versatility is. Deemed the Niners’ “Swiss Army knife” by Jim Harbaugh, Walker has lined up at wide receiver, fullback, running back and right tackle. He also plays special teams.

48) Jared Cook (TEN)
Size: 6-5, 248
Age: 25
Skinny: A nice blend of size and athleticism. Unfortuantely, the Titans will use the franchise tag on him. [Update: Or so we thought! Despite reports to the contrary, Tennessee did not tag the tight end.]

51) Martellus Bennett (NYG)
Size: 6-6, 265
Age: 26
Skinny: Had 55 catches and five touchdowns for the Giants after four relatively disappointing seasons in Dallas. The talent level is there, as is the size Kelly likes.

How about the draft? A look at the top 5 TE prospects, as well as where they are expected to be taken, in the view of CBS Sports:

Name
Height/Weight
School
Projected round
Tyler Eifert6-6, 250Notre Dame1st
Zach Ertz6-5, 249Stanford2nd
Vance McDonald 6-4, 267Rice2nd
Gavin Escobar 6-6, 254San Diego St.2nd-3rd
Travis Kelce6-5, 255Cincinnati3rd

As you can see, there are some Chip Kelly bodies early on in the draft.

While there are plenty of pressing needs on this team, tight end will have to be addressed soon. Brent Celek has fought through a lot of pain over the years, and you wonder if it will begin catching up with him. Clay Harbor, who  fractured multiple bones in his back late last season, has yet to distinguish himself.

(Celek, for the record, is 6-4, 255. Harbor is 6-3, 252.)

Kelly may be inclined to carry four tight ends, so there will almost certainly be movement on this front. We at least have some understanding of what he will be looking for.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil gives us some notes on free agency, the draft and the read option.

Teams have today until 4 p.m. to use their franchise tag. A look at tag-related moves (and non-moves) that could impact the Eagles.

Kapadia takes a look at some cornerback options in free agency.

Brandon Graham is prepping for a move to linebacker.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Geoff Mosher links the Eagles to one of the free-agent safeties.

Would the Eagles consider going after a big-ticket wide receiver in free agency? Dan Graziano addresses that in his mailbag.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to spend in free agency if they want to spend it. They’re about $33 million under the cap at this point, and they can save another $11 million if they cut cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, as it’s expected they will. And they have most of their core young players locked up on long-term deals they did a year ago. So certainly, if they wanted to make a play for someone like Mike Wallace or Dwayne Bowe, the Eagles could do that.

The issue is whether, with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin already set as starters, the Eagles want to spend their money that way. Both Jackson and Maclin have the kind of speed new head coach Chip Kelly loves, and assuming both stay healthy they look like strong weapons for whatever kind of offense he ends up running in Philadelphia. But that’s my perception. It’s possible Kelly doesn’t like, say, Maclin and would like to upgrade that spot. Again, they have the money to spend if they so choose. My guess at this point is that they use their cap room to rebuild that defense, targeting cornerbacks if they’re going to spend big. But that’s a guess, and we’ll know soon enough.

COMING UP

We have a couple tricks up our sleeve for this week. We’ll keep you posted.