Wake-Up Call: A Search For Brawn And Brains

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Chip Kelly
‘s “big people beat up little people” line is a popular one, and will be recited plenty in the coming days with the combine getting underway later this week. Height, weight, hand size, wing span…all of these measurables mean something to Kelly, and can help lead us towards the players that may be of interest to the Eagles. But there’s another, less heralded quote that should also be kept in mind as the powers that be descend on Indianapolis to get up close and personal with the draft prospects.

“There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things and smart people rarely do dumb things,” he said last April.

Academics are “a huge part” of the evaluation, according to Kelly. A quick look at the 2013 draft class backs his claim up. Lane Johnson was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Football Team (minimum grade point average of 3.2) in 2012. Stanford product Zach Ertz was a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention selection and posted a 3.4 GPA in his final year while majoring in Management Science and Engineering. Matt Barkley, a second team Academic All-Pac-12 selection, was the recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, handed to the college player “who best combines scholarship, community service and play on the field.” Earl Wolff graduated from N.C. State in just 3 1/2 years.

Several of the draft picks reportedly ranked near the top when it came to the Wonderlic test.

“I think the evaluation of them making and processing decisions, knowing whether or not you can count on them, and if they’re dependable are huge components to making decisions,” said Kelly. “It’s not just a stop watch and a bench press, there’s so much more that goes into it. I heard a guy and I’m not taking credit for it, but when people fail or high draft picks fail, it’s one or two reasons—usually intelligence or intangibles. We could spend a lot of time during our evaluations on the intelligence and the intangibles.

“These guys fit what we’re looking for. Now it’s our job as coaches to get them in here and teach them the scheme and get them moving, but that’s a huge part of it. We have to make good decisions—split second decisions when you’re on the football field. So, understanding on how they can handle things, how they can learn and if they understand the scheme is important to us.”

Kelly, Roseman and company will have a chance to sit down with a bunch of the draft hopefuls at the combine. It was an important part of the process for them last year. The meetings with Barkley and Bennie Logan in particular influenced their thinking. It’s an opportunity to not just get a feel for the player’s personality, but their football acumen as well.

It’s about brawn, yes, but it’s also about brains to this regime. Kelly will be on the lookout for both in Indy.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Jeremy Maclin says “this is where I want to be.”

Could it be Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix at 22? Sheil with some draft notes. 

Kelly may hold an edge when it comes to the draft.

From T.J. Ward to Louis Delmas, safety is the topic of the latest Twitter Mailbag.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Chris Steuber says Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman could be a draft target for the Eagles.

Selecting a defensive lineman with the 22nd pick isn’t a high priority, but adding more depth off the edge or a bigger, stronger interior force at nose tackle would provide defensive coordinator Billy Davis with more options, and Hageman is a name to keep an eye on.

He would give the Eagles another lineman with great length, who can impact the game at the line of scrimmage. Not to mention, he can be stout inside and command the attention from the opposition that will make others around him better.

Jimmy Kempski lists Ted Ginn Jr. as a possible free-agent target.

Last season, Ginn was 6th in the NFL in punt return average, with an average of 12.2 yards per return. By comparison, the Eagles as a team averaged 6.6 yards per return, which was 27th in the league. He also averaged 23.8 yards per kick return, which was 16th in the NFL. The Eagles averaged 21.4 yards per return, which was 26th in the league. Ginn has 6 kick/punt returns for TDs for his career. Here’s one last season against the Ravens during the preseason. Ginn will turn 29 in April, but he still has jets.

Ginn also had a nice year with the Panthers as a receiver, catching 36 passes for 556 yards (15.4 per recpetion), and 5 TDs. More importantly, he excelled at getting yards after the catch, averaging 6.3 yards after the catch on his receptions. That would have led Eagles receivers last year, who, with the exception of Jason Avant. all had YAC averages in 2013 that were higher than their career YAC averages. Ginn could significantly upgrade the Eagles return units and give them another very speedy weapon in their offense.

COMING UP

Festivities begin in Indianapolis on Thursday. We’ll have the event covered for you.

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