Wake-Up Call: Why Eagles Passed On Manziel, Lee

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Bowl-Duke vs Texas A&M

The Eagles had six players they hoped would be there at the No. 22 pick. But when they finally were put on the clock, none of the six was available.

Two guys who could have been had at that spot were Johnny Manziel and USC WR Marqise Lee.

Chip Kelly has had nothing but good things to say about Manziel publicly, but it seems clear that the Eagles never really thought about taking him with the 22nd pick.

“We’re always gonna go by our board,” Kelly said. “I love him. I think he’s a dynamic quarterback. I also think we have a very, very good quarterback situation – not only with Nick [Foles], but you add Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley – we think quarterback is a strength for us right now. We felt like the pass-rusher who we had rated higher was the guy we were gonna take.”

Manziel ended up getting taken at No. 22 – but he’s headed to Cleveland, not Philadelphia.

The Eagles picked up a third-round pick in the process.

The Saints moved from No. 27 to No. 20 to take Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks. Asked if the Eagles had Marcus Smith rated above Cooks, Kelly dodged the question.

“Who was rated higher on your board?” he asked a reporter. “There were a few guys that went ahead of us that we would have liked to have, but they didn’t. So that’s how it goes.”

In other words, if Cooks fell, the Eagles very well might have taken him at No. 22.

But that’s not how things played out. Instead, the Eagles moved back to 26 and drafted Smith.

One popular name that was linked to the Birds leading up to the draft was USC WR Marqise Lee. But the Eagles passed on him, and Lee didn’t end up getting taken in the first round.

“I think Marqise is an outstanding player and I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time I get back upstairs he’s not there,” Kelly said. “But we spend so much time on ordering it so that when you get into the situation like, ‘Where do we go?’ it’s a simple thing. We’ve had ‘em all rated for a long time, and our board is our board. So when you get in there, you don’t turn it on and go, ‘I kinda like him.’

“We’ve had since last year to stack the board the right way. If we kind of liked him, that should have been a discussion awhile ago, so we were gonna follow it. I think that’s what you do rationally. You can’t let emotion get into it. I think Marqise is a special kid. I tried to recruit him coming out of high school and then had a tremendous career at USC. But for us, we think Marcus was the right pick.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac has the story on the newest Eagle, who said he thought he might go in the second or third rounds.

I did a full video breakdown on Smith earlier this offseason.

Here is how the action unfolded on the first day of the draft.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz likes the Smith pick:

This is a solid pick. I figured he would go in the early 2nd. I won’t complain about the Eagles moving back and then taking him. They addressed a spot that I wanted with a player I wanted. And Smith fits the Eagles scheme. He could be an outstanding player for Bill Davis and Chip Kelly.

A couple notable Tweets from Derek Sarley of Iggles Blog fame:

COMING UP

We’ll have Day 2 targets and catch up with Smith at 4 p.m. Round 2 kicks off at 7, and we’ll have another open thread.

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