Chip Kelly doesn’t wait until after the season to get involved in the draft process.
The Eagles’ head coach revealed earlier this month that on Saturday afternoons in the fall, he sits down and watches college tape.
But in most cases, the scouting process is different for coaches and personnel people. The scouting staff works on the draft year-round, while coaches typically get involved in January. That can lead to new debates and differing opinions in the months leading up to the draft. According to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, those discussions are particularly relevant with this year's cornerback class.
"What's interesting about the corners is that most of the personnel guys have [Bradley] Roby and [Justin] Gilbert as their highest-rated corners just because they have better movement skills," Mayock said Thursday. "Most of the coaches like [Kyle] Fuller and [Darqueze] Dennard because they're better football players today. You know what you're getting."
We wrote about Fuller yesterday and Dennard earlier this week. There's a chance they are the two cornerbacks to go off the board first. But there's also a possibility that teams will bank on the upside of Roby and Gilbert, the two players we'll talk about today.
Let's start with Gilbert. Of all the first-round corners, he has the best speed/size combination. At 6 feet, 202 pounds, the Oklahoma State product ran a 4.37 at the combine:
In addition to the height and speed, Gilbert has long arms (33 1/8 inches) and is a tremendous athlete.
"He's got return ability in the kick game," Mayock said. "He's explosive. He's got beautiful hips. He can turn and run. He's got more upside than any corner in the draft. However, he's highly inconsistent."
Added Greg Cosell during an interview on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast: "Gilbert is not the prospect Patrick Peterson was. But I could see people thinking somewhere down the road he'd become that kind of player because of the size and the movement."
With Gilbert, it could come down to coaching. If you feel like you have coaches who can get him to play to his potential, he's probably your top-rated corner.
One thing to note with the Eagles: The last two years, they've taken guys with considerable upside. Lane Johnson might not have had the cleanest college tape, but his size/athleticism combination is unmatched. Fletcher Cox, meanwhile, had a unique size/quickness combination for a defensive lineman.
If they like Gilbert from a character/work ethic perspective, he could be an attractive pick. Then again, there's a chance he's long gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock.
Here are a couple full-game cut-ups of Gilbert:
Let's move on to Roby. He's a little smaller than Gilbert, but has great straight-line speed:
He's obviously an excellent athlete, but it's worth noting he's not exactly long (31 1/2-inch arms).
"Roby has a tremendous skill set," said Cosell. "He is good-sized. He can run. He can play man. He can play zone. The problem with Roby is that he does not consistently play to his athleticism and his physical attributes."
According to Rotoworld, Roby got his hands on the ball just once every 4.92 targets. That was the worst percentage of any of the top cornerback prospects. And he was not a great tackler.
Still, some people really like him. From Rotoworld's Josh Norris:
Where He Wins: Attacks the jam or blocking receiver, frequently gets into the action. Will play off or press man coverage, attacks the catch point by cutting in front of the target. Even plays on special teams. Trails in close distances and prevents the sliver of separation at the catch point. Makes things difficult on the opposition.
Where He Fits: Not locked into one side of the field. Likely better in press due to physical nature, but shows he can attack and drive in off coverage.
Among the four cornerbacks mentioned, the guess here is that the Eagles have Roby ranked last. The athleticism is there, but because of the inconsistency, he seems like a risky pick at No. 22.
Below are some cut-ups of Roby.