Chip Kelly answered several questions last week about the number of Oregon players on the Eagles’ roster.
When the team made final cuts this weekend, five remained: defensive ends Brandon Bair and Taylor Hart; wide receivers Josh Huff and Jeff Maehl; and linebacker Casey Matthews.
General manager Howie Roseman met with reporters Saturday afternoon and defended his head coach when it comes to choosing former Ducks.
“He lets us make our own evaluations and talk to him about it, and then he gives us his opinions,” Roseman said. “He doesn’t do anything different than he does for any player from any other school. It’s really not fair that he gets hit on some of this stuff when the guys that we’re keeping, we’re keeping because they’re good players and they can contribute to our football team. That’s for all of us.
“He wants the best players. He wants to win games. He’s very selfish in that regard. I don’t think it’s fair that he gets accused of anything other than that. To me, the question is: Does Coach want anything other than to win football games and to have the best players on the team? I think there’s no question to anyone that’s around him that that’s his sole function and his sole desire.”
As for the players who made the squad, there’s no doubt that Bair earned it with his preseason performance, and Huff was a third-round pick. Hart was a fifth-rounder and is a scheme fit.
Maehl and Matthews were likely two of the final 53. But there’s not much of an argument that the Eagles left superior players off the roster to keep both guys. And it’s likely that Matthews would have been cut if not for Travis Long’s ACL injury. He still could get released if the Eagles find an inside linebacker elsewhere.
“We evaluate players based on their talent level,” Roseman said. “I think that when we talk about guys, it’s an easier projection when you look at how they fit in a system. And so when you’re taking a guy that’s a 4-3 defensive end and you’re trying to project him to a 3-4 outside linebacker, there’s a lot of hypotheticals in there.
“When you’re taking a guy that plays a 3-4 system that your defense plays and you see his attributes or you see how they run routes or you see how they run the ball in a similar scheme, it takes some of the guesswork out, because it’s hard to predict what 21-, 22-year-olds are gonna do in the National Football League. It’s an inexact science as we’ll see with cuts over the next 24 hours.”
The roster could certainly change between now and Week 1 and the Jaguars game. The next 24 hours or so will be hectic as teams continue to make roster moves.
But for now, five of the Eagles’ 53 are Ducks.