Back in February, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News wrote about how former Cowboys coach Jimmie Johnson had a draft advantage when he made the switch from college to the NFL:
So Johnson had a mental file of the top college players in the country. He either coached, recruited or played against them on Saturdays. His knowledge of the college game and its players gave him an edge at the draft table over his NFL rivals.
For his first five years in Dallas, Johnson would be studying and drafting many of the same players he had already studied and recruited at Miami. Those five years would cover his five-year recruiting cycle at Miami. He knew the achievers, overachievers and underachievers.
It’s no secret that Kelly’s role over the weekend was significant. During the season, he watches college film on Saturday afternoons. He attends the Senior Bowl, combine and as many Pro Days as possible.
Kelly had previous information on several of the prospects the Eagles drafted. He also has college contacts. For example, Kelly talked to former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong about first-round pick Marcus Smith. He chatted with former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin about Jordan Matthews. He coached Josh Huff and Taylor Hart. Jerry Azzinaro recruited Beau Allen. And Kelly coached against Ed Reynolds.
At one point, Kelly downplayed the idea that he had any kind of advantage, but he later admitted it helps a little to have coached against some of the prospects.
“I think it’s a benefit,” Kelly said. “Because one of the things at least I can call on is instead of some guys went to go see him in practice and then watched tape, I’ve seen a ton of these guys in live games. I talked about it last year when we drafted Zach Ertz. We played against him. So I saw Zach every day. I saw how he competed and I saw how he reacted when a call went against him. I saw how he carried himself in the game. You get a better understanding of the total player.”
Kelly also brought on several former college coaches when he assembled his staff last offseason.
“I can defer to guys in the SEC with [offensive line coach] Jeff Stoutland because he came from Alabama and played against him,” Kelly added. “He may know something about him. I know he weighed in on Bennie Logan because he had to coach against Bennie Logan. So it was firsthand knowledge. What was it like when you were game-planning at Alabama and you were going to play against someone like that? So I just think it is helpful to us from that standpoint. But it’s not the whole narrative is that we’re going to take the guys we know just because we know them.”
As we mentioned yesterday, part of the Eagles’ draft philosophy seems to be based on limiting the variables and projections. They look at raw measurables. They look at talent/production. And they look at fit: both in the scheme and in the locker room.
There’s no way to quantify whether Kelly’s previous knowledge will really benefit the Eagles as they add new players, but clearly the goal is to use every ounce of information at their disposal before making their choices.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles failed to add O-Line help during the draft, writes McManus.
Five leftover quotes from Kelly. Topics include socialism, Kevin Bacon and Draft Day.
The selection of two Oregon players is representative of the Eagles’ greater, evidence-based draft philosophy.
“He’s as impressive a guy as I’ve ever met.” T-Mac explains why the Eagles loved Matthews.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Paul Domowitch of the Daily Newssays the Eagles might not see immediate contributions form their rookie class:
In 2012, the Eagles’ nine draft picks that year started a total of 47 games. Five of those nine played 450 snaps or more as rookies. Last year, the Eagles’ eight picks started 33 games, with four of them playing 450 or more snaps.
Unless there are a lot of injuries, that’s not going to happen this season. Right now, there’s a good chance that none of the Eagles’ seven picks will start a game in 2014. That’s right. Zero. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz writes that there are no projects in the Eagles’ draft class:
None of the players is undersized. Jarrett and Smith had to get bigger and stronger to be NFL ready.
There are no tweeners. We all thought Keenan Clayton could be a good NFL player…if he could just find a position. That never happened. Versatility is good, but you must have one position where you are a natural fit. Jaylen Watkins is a CB. He can play in the slot or at S, but he’s meant to be a CB. None of the players is from a small school. These guys faced college stars and future NFL players in their college careers.
There are still plenty of draft angles to cover.