Kelly’s Roster Preferences: ‘There Are Deal-Breakers’

Chip Kelly comes to the NFL with a plan.

How much of that plan will mirror what he did at Oregon and whether it will actually work remain to be seen. But the Eagles’ new head coach knows he’ll have to make adjustments at this level. And perhaps the biggest adjustment will come in finding players and assembling a roster.

In college, Kelly never had a top-10 recruiting class, but he was still able to seek out talent without worrying about a salary cap, a 53-man roster limit or players who were past their primes. Those factors will all come in to play in the coming months.

Once the Eagles finalize their coaching staff, the next step will be putting the roster together. That’s where the relationship between Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman becomes critical.

“He’s going to be very defined on the things that he’s looking for in players by positions,” Roseman said last week at the Senior Bowl. “Which is great for us as a personnel staff, to make sure that we know specifics for each position, dictated by the coaching staff. Obviously, it’s easier on the offensive side of the ball than the defensive side right now, but for us, we know we’re going to have clear direction.”

It’s something Roseman has brought up multiple times since Kelly was hired. The new coach has specific attributes he’s looking for at each position. For example, here’s what Kelly said about the quarterback position while at Oregon:

“If the quarterback is not tall, look at his hands. That is the biggest coaching point to finding a quarterback. How big are his hands, and how well can he control the football? The height of the quarterback is not the important thing. No one playing quarterback throws over the line. They throw trough lanes in the linemen. The important thing is the size of their hands.”

The question now is: What attributes is he looking for from NFL players?

Kelly is generally associated with speed, but Dan Pompei of the National Football Post suggests he could be looking for different qualities, specifically on defense.

If new Eagles coach Chip Kelly adopts some of the strategies he was using at Oregon, the Eagles will begin coveting “longer” players. Kelly’s NCAA teams were known for their speed and stamina but Oregon was also recruiting taller players across the board, particularly on defense where he made length a priority with a recent change in philosophy. Some people around the league believe the Eagles will begin seeking taller players on that side of the ball.

We’re still waiting on a defensive coordinator, but a personnel overhaul seems likely, especially if the Eagles go to a 3-4.

“There are deal-breakers,” Roseman said. “Maybe it’s at a particular position that size is a particular function that you need there, or a certain speed. I think there are limiting factors at certain positions that for some staffs are more important than others.”

For years, Andy Reid had no problem plugging in defenders that some would deem under-sized. But it looks like that philosophy could change with Kelly.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.