It’s been nearly three months since Chip Kelly announced he was promoting Ed Marynowitz to vice president of player personnel.
On Thursday morning at the NovaCare Complex, the 31 year old met the media for the first time to discuss his new role, the Eagles’ scouting approach and next week’s draft. Marynowitz obviously was in no mood to offer up detailed evaluations on the prospects, but he did speak at length about what the organization is looking for under Kelly.
Specifically, Marynowitz laid out the three-part evaluation plan the Eagles use under Kelly.
1. Height, weight, speed measurables.
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Kelly talked about this in his first offseason as the Eagles head coach. He has specific measurables he values at each position. And it’s up to the personnel staff to abide by those guidelines.
“[Nick] Saban’s philosophy, he had been in the NFL for quite some time, and our philosophy there was a very similar philosophy to what we have here,” said Marynowitz. “It was a very height/weight/speed specific operation. This is a size/speed league. We believed the SEC was a size/speed league. There’s enough statistical data that will support that in terms of players that are playing at a high level. There’s a certain prototype.
“So our goal there was that although there may be varying degrees of players in terms of an ability standpoint, when the starters come off the field and the backups come in, they all relatively look the same. So there’s a certain prototype at each position. We try to build the same thing here, whether it’s at inside linebacker, outside linebacker, corner, safety. There’s a prototype, and there’s a model that fits what we do. We did the same thing there.”
Marynowitz spent one year here under Andy Reid. He explained that Reid allowed for more creativity and exceptions, using undersized linebacker Brian Rolle as an example. Kelly, however, sticks to the prototype.
“We begin all of our evaluations, they begin by elimination a little bit,” Marynowitz said. “It’s a funnel system of 12,000-some college players that you funnel down to 3,500 to 1,600 all the way down to 600 to 300 to 150 that are on your board. So in doing that, the first step of that is we’re gonna cross-check height/weight/speed and fits. So it’s not to say we’re just gonna totally eliminate a guy if he’s outside those parameters, but he better be exceptional in a lot of other areas to take a shot on a guy like that.
“Big picture wise, you want to play with the odds, not against the odds. And the odds are telling you that the majority of these guys that are under this certain prototype do not play at a starting level in the NFL. If you have seven draft picks, do you really want to waste one, especially in the top three rounds, on a guy that history is telling you… typically these guys with these types of measurables don’t produce at this level?”
The specific approach can shrink the pool of potential prospects, but Kelly, Marynowitz and others find more danger in trying to gamble on exceptions.
“I think size/speed wins,” Marynowitz said. “[Chip] brought up the line, Nick Saban used the same line, big people beat up little people. There’s a reason why heavyweights don’t fight the lightweights. This is a big man’s game. For what we do offensively, especially at the receiver position and their involvement in the run game in terms of blocking for us, I think size matters in that aspect as well. Overall, you don’t want to sacrifice athletic ability and speed, but if you can get size and speed at any position, you’re looking to get that and acquire those players.”
2. Position specifics, critical factors.
This is a much more subjective area of evaluation. Does the player fit the Eagles’ scheme? Is he athletic enough? And can he play?
“The position specific and the critical factors, that’s where you get a lot of your discussions, your healthy debates and discussions because what you may see as starter-level ball skills, I may see as backup level,” Marynowitz said. “Then we may need to talk and discuss, and we may need to watch tape together to say, ‘OK, well show me why you thought that he was at this level, and I can prove to you why I saw it at this level.’ So you have a lot of those conversations and a lot of those back and forths.”
Asked if the Eagles are a best player available operation, Marynowitz said: “I would expand that to say best player for us, best player available for us that fits our system.”
In other words, scheme fit absolutely matters. The outside linebackers have to be able to drop back into coverage. The defensive linemen have to be able to two-gap. The safeties have to hold up in man coverage. And so on.
The idea of taking the best talent and making it work doesn’t apply here.
3. Character, attitude, intelligence.
Or as we like to say around here, #culture.
“That’s really the hardest part of our job is figuring out the wiring and the makeup of these guys,” Marynowitz said.
He added that with his Alabama connections and Kelly’s Oregon connections, evaluating players from those schools is easier. On other prospects, the process is much more involved.
“We want to get as much exposure to those players as possible,” Marynowitz said. “The combine affords us a small window to do that. There’s a 15-minute formal interview period that we’ll visit with those guys there. Guys that we have additional questions on, we have an opportunity to bring 30 players to Philadelphia for the top 30 visits. We go out and see those players. So we do our due diligence with every player.
“What we’re looking for, and I’ll use the term a lot, is we want guys that are wired the right way. So an old [Bill] Parcells saying is when the best players are your best people is really when you have something. That’s the type of culture that we want, where the best people, the best players are the guys that have the best intangibles. We’re big on culture here and the right fit. And I think it’s important that we continue to bring guys in that are wired the right way.”
It’s a specific, three-pronged approach. Prospects, specifically those that the Eagles take in the higher rounds, need to check all the boxes.
“Each one in and of itself is evaluated,” Marynowitz said. “Just because a guy is exceptional or deficient in one won’t preclude us from taking him, but ideally, especially in the upper rounds, you’re striving for guys that fit in all three of those. You just don’t want to take exceptions.”