To prove his point, Chip Kelly lobbed the question back into the media throng.
“Who would you take?”
“I don’t know,” a reporter responded.
“I don’t know, either.”
Just over a week away from the draft, and the new Eagles coach confessed that he doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to the No. 4 pick.
“I think the draft has depth. There is not an Andrew Luck or RGIII or someone that you say that guy’s going to be a ten‑year all pro, one of the best,” said Kelly. “I think there are some quality players in this draft, and that’s our job to kind of figure that out. I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination there is a slam dunk anywhere.”
That is not exactly what you want to hear when your team holds a top-5 pick in its hands for the first time since 1999. But Kelly certainly isn’t the first person to describe the class this way. This is a draft that falls short when it comes to sex appeal, but it does offer a selection of sturdy building blocks.
Assuming Kelly genuinely feels this way (again, everything said this time of year is automatically suspect) then we know that the Eagles aren’t completely convinced that Geno Smith is a top-flight signal-caller. Could he still be deemed best available at No. 4? Possibly, but investing in a quarterback that high if you’re not thoroughly sold on him is risky business.
Then again, as Kelly points out, the whole process is a large role of the dice in many respects.
“It’s easy to go hindsight and say we knew this draft was this. But you really don’t know,” said Kelly. “It’s the same process that we went through in college. If you look at what are the top 5 or six players in the draft, they weren’t the top 5 or six high school players five years ago. Dion Jordan is one of the top players out there, and we were smart enough at Oregon to recruit him as a wide receiver. Now he’s going to play outside linebacker, defensive end in the NFL. You look at Lane Johnson, who was a high school quarterback, and now he’s an offensive tackle who is a top pick, the list goes on and on. And Ziggy Ansah was playing basketball and went to BYU to play basketball, and now he may be a Top 10 pick.”
Kelly’s comments only seem to bolster the notion that the Eagles could trade back in the name of more picks, assuming they have similar grades on several of the top prospects. Honestly, it would not be any great surprise if they did. But don’t expect them to move back too far if they decide to part ways with the fourth overall pick. While there may be no guaranteed superstars, the Eagles do see a small collection of elite players. They intend on being in position to take one.
It is not often that you get to pick this high. Is this a signature moment for the first-year head coach like ’99 was for Andy Reid?
“Honestly, I’m not that philosophical,” he replied. “I want to come out of it with the best players. Hopefully my goal is we have a lot more drafts. So you could say it’s your signature draft if it’s your only draft. I plan on being here more than one year, so our whole goal is can we improve this football team, and that’s it. But I don’t look at it as this is a defining moment of what we’re doing. When people look back ten years, 20 years, who was the pick and all those other things? I’m not that deep. I can tell you that. We’re just trying to get the best player we can.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kelly sets the tempo at the team’s first practice.
Michael Vick and Nick Foles both took first-team reps.
The Eagles checked out USC receiver Robert Woods and Tennessee QB Tyler Bray.
Kelly released a statement regarding Oregon’s NCAA violations.
Kapadia offers three leftovers from the session with Howie Roseman.
Tom Gamble‘s insights have been “invaluable” to the GM.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
With the help of ESPN’s next-level stats, Dan Graziano shows why offensive line and corner are the team’s two biggest needs heading into the draft.
The Eagles were tied for 25th in completion percentage allowed (46.9) on throws of 15 or more yards downfield, 31st in yards per attempt on such throws (14.6) and of course last in TD-INT ratio. (+11)
They also struggled in particular with outside receivers. Their 15 touchdown catches allowed to receivers lined up closest to the sideline were the second-most in the league, and eight of those 15 came in divisional games. The Eagles added many pieces to their secondary in free agency, including cornerback Cary Williams and safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung. But there’d be nothing wrong with continuing to add talent there, and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner remains a possibility for that reason.
Chris Burke released an updated draft board. His top 5? Luke Joeckel, Chance Warmack, Eric Fisher, Dion Jordan and Sharrif Floyd. He has Smith 24th.
Depending on the team that goes guard first, Warmack could fall below Jonathan Cooper — the former probably a better fit for an in-the-trenches, power-running team. I’d happily draft Warmack and set him on the interior of the line, where he can absolutely maul defenders.
The players will be made available to the media this afternoon following practice.