Here are three leftovers from post-draft interviews with Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman.
1. Yesterday, we discussed Kelly’s position-specific measurables for draft prospects. But what else were the Eagles looking for in the players they drafted?
Well, for one, football smarts. By all accounts, Kelly’s offense will have a lot to do with making pre-snap adjustments at the line of scrimmage. That’s not only on the quarterback. Everybody will be expected to be on the same page.
“I think it’s a huge part of it,” Kelly said. “There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people sometimes give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things. Smart people rarely do dumb things.
“Part of the evaluation that goes along with how fast does someone runs a 40 or how fast does someone run a short shuttle or how strong is he, is the evaluation of them processing [information]. How do they make decisions? Can you count on them day in and day out? Are they dependable? And those are huge components to making decisions. It’s not just a stop-watch and a bench press. There’s so much more that goes into it. Trying to figure out the intangibles.”
Part of trying to figure those things out is the interview process. Kelly was able to use his relationships with college coaches, but he also got to interview prospects during private workouts, visits to the team facility and at the Combine.
In Indianapolis, he identified two players in particular – Matt Barkley and third-round pick Bennie Logan – as guys who just knocked the interview out of the park.
“I heard a guy [say], and I’m not taking credit for it, but when people fail or high draft picks fail, it’s one of two reasons. It’s either intelligence or intangibles,” Kelly said. “So we spend a lot of time in our evaluation on the intelligence and on the intangibles. We felt we had to hit on that. I hope these guys, they fit what we’re looking for.
“You do have to make great decisions, split-second decisions when you’re on the football field, so understanding how they can handle things, how they learn and do they understand the scheme is important to us.”
2. There’s also the matter of where the players came from. All eight draft picks played in four BCS conferences: four from the Pac-12, two from the Big 12, one from the SEC and one from the ACC. The truth is, if you look up and down draft boards, that’s what you’re going to find. According to Jon Solomon of AL.com, only 26 of the 254 players selected (or 10.2 percent) came from non-BCS schools.
Still, according to Roseman, the Eagles are pretty committed to sticking with big programs, for the most part.
“I believe strongly you have to get them where they make them,” he said. “It’s more of the exception that guys come from small schools and make it. I think as you study successful payers in this league, you’re looking at exception. And when you start to become a team of exceptions, you start to have a problem. And I think that is something that is a philosophy of ours and it’s important to us.”
Kelly said specifically that the SEC produces top-level defensive linemen, which sets the conference apart.
In the past two years, the Eagles have only selected one player (Vinny Curry, Marshall) from a non-BCS school.
3. A word of caution about over-using the term value in regards to draft choices. Bill Parcells had the famous line about being what your record says you are.
A similar rule applies to the draft. For example, the Eagles are drawing plenty of praise for grabbing Barkley and Jordan Poyer after they “slipped.” But what exactly does that mean?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have an issue with either pick. But think about it. In a QB-starved league, Barkley was passed over 97 times. With teams always needing cornerback help, Poyer was passed over 217 times.
So I asked Roseman: When you have a prospect high on your board, and he keeps falling, don’t you hesitate and think, maybe the 31 other teams know something you don’t know?
“I will now,” Roseman said with a laugh, not really answering the question. “I hadn’t really thought about it that way.”
But he’s not a dumb guy, so of course that thought has crossed his mind.
Teams spend several months putting together their draft boards. Countless hours of scouting, film study, meetings, the Senior Bowl, the Combine, Pro Days, private workouts, team visits, etc. By the time the draft rolls around, they have to have confidence with how their draft board is set up. There’s no time to second-guess evaluations once the selections are under way. That’s how you probably get into trouble.
But still, something to keep in mind the next time you hear that a prospect has slipped.