Wake-Up Call: How Kelly Deals With Character Questions


Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Today’s question comes via Twitter:

This is an excellent question, Jonny.

The Eagles have selected 15 players in two drafts under Chip Kelly. And there really hasn’t been a single player who came to Philadelphia with true character questions. Josh Huff was once arrested for a DUI, but later acquitted. And Jordan Poyer had to answer a few questions about a bar fight.

But those were isolated incidents. And the other 13 players appeared to be squeaky clean. Players like Bennie Logan and Jordan Matthews seem to be about as high-character as they come. Both guys wowed Kelly during the pre-draft interview process.

You bring up an interesting point, though. Maybe Kelly just wanted to spend a couple years establishing the culture and will now be more willing to take risks on guys who have character questions. On defense, for example, he should feel pretty comfortable that Logan, Connor BarwinMalcolm Jenkins and others can provide a good example.

But to be honest, I don’t see Kelly going that route. From what I can tell, he believes in reducing the variables as much as possible when it comes to the draft. That’s part of the reason he landed a couple Oregon players last year; he knew what he was getting. And from a physical standpoint, he has certain measurables that he values. Other than maybe Logan in 2013, the Eagles haven’t drafted an undersized prospect in two years.

I can tell you that from everything I hear, Kelly takes the interview process very seriously, and he expects everyone on his staff to do the same. Kelly takes full advantage of his opportunities to meet with prospects at the Senior Bowl and combine. And last offseason, he was visible at Pro Days across the country.

If a prospect with questionable character really impresses him, maybe Kelly makes an exception. But there have been no examples of that to this point.

The culture/character question also depends on the situation and commitment. Kelly seems more willing to look past things for guys already on his roster whom he knows well (see: Riley Cooper). In the draft, like everyone else, he’s probably more willing to take a risk in the seventh round than the first round.

And in free agency, I’d be stunned if he paid big money to anyone he considered a suspect culture fit.

We’ll find out in the coming months whether Kelly is willing to make exceptions, but the guess here is that won’t be the case.

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WHAT YOU MISSED

A look at what T-Mac heard in Indy about Brandon GrahamJason Worilds and the OLB market.

Notes and observations on the secondary players who impressed at the combine, including Michigan State CB Trae Waynes.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay explains why it’s a bad year to be looking for safety help and suggests Washington might be willing to trade out of the No. 5 spot.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Nate Allen has been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with last week’s incident in Florida, according to 6-ABC:

A review of surveillance video shows a suspect in a black pickup truck in the same location as the victim when the complaint was filed. However, that man was not Allen nor was it his truck, authorities now say.

According to the State Attorney, Allen was mistakenly identified as the suspect when he was detained.

State Attorney Steve Russell said in a statement: “After reviewing the case and situation, Mr. Nate Allen should be commended for his patience, cooperation, and understanding. Further the victim should be commended for her cooperation and willingness to report the offense.”

Zach Berman of the Inquirer on Jake Locker as a potential option for the Birds:

Kelly coached against Locker in college, and Locker has athleticism and raw ability that could be developed. But there’s a reason the former No. 8 overall pick is available. Locker has completed only 57.5 percent of his passes, and his durability is a major concern. He is 9-14 as a starter over the past three seasons. If Kelly thinks a change of scenery in a better offense with more talent around him could help, Locker could be an intriguing fit. He was one of the top athletic performer in the 2011 combine – Locker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and was also the top performer on the three-cone drill. But Kelly looks for repeatable accuracy, and Locker has not presented that to date in his career.

COMING UP

We’ll offer some final thoughts at the combine and more.