Eagles Wake-Up Call: How Will Chip Fill Roster Holes?


NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

PHOENIX — Chip Kelly was asked a bunch of questions Wednesday about some of the Eagles’ current holes on the roster – most notably safety, right guard, wide receiver and the No. 2 cornerback spot.

Here’s a rundown of what he said, along with my thoughts.

Safety: “We’ll see. We’ve got some guys in-house we’ll look at. There’s still opportunities in free agency and there’s also opportunities in the draft. We’ll play it out through OTAs, mini-camp, and the preseason.”

Kelly shot down the possibility of Nolan Carroll II potentially getting a shot at safety. Jaylen Watkins could get a look there, but that did not appear to be Plan A. He also mentioned Earl Wolff’s name.

My sense is that the Eagles really wanted Devin McCourty. When he went back to New England, they didn’t want to overpay for mediocre talent. So for now, I don’t think they have a great option for the spot opposite Malcolm Jenkins. They could bring in a low-level free agent and/or draft a safety and hope someone emerges this summer.

Wide receiver: [Asked specifically about Jordan Matthews].”Yeah, he can do it [play outside] just like Josh [Huff] can do it. Riley Cooper could move into the slot for us. The biggest thing we do is once we get rookies in there, it’s, ‘Hey, you’re playing one spot. Let’s not put a lot on your plate.’ It’s no different than Zach Ertz. His package was expanded [more] in Year 2 than it was in Year 1, just because when they first get in there, it’s a totally different world for them. Once they get comfortable there, you start to see them move around and play a lot of different spots. So I can envision Jordan playing at a lot of different spots for us.”

To be clear, he was using Cooper as an example that anything could happen. He wasn’t saying that they really believe Cooper is going to the slot.

My sense is that the Eagles are going to draft a wide receiver – maybe even in one of the first two rounds. Matthews’ role will depend on who they get and what the rookie’s best position is.

Who knows? Maybe Cooper gets phased out. The best trio very well could be Matthews, Huff and a rookie.

The Eagles wanted to bring Jeremy Maclin back, but it doesn’t appear they’re panicking at all. Between the guys on the roster and a potential rookie, they think they’ll be fine.

Cornerback: There was not one overall quote here. Kelly said Brandon Boykin, Carroll, Watkins and Walter Thurmond will all get a chance to compete for the spot opposite Byron Maxwell.

Of course, it’s the spring, and I don’t really believe Kelly when it comes to Boykin. If he didn’t get a shot last year, I don’t think he’s going to get one this year. It’ll likely be either Thurmond, Carroll or a rookie.

The Eagles aren’t really deep at this spot. If Maxwell were to go down, they’d be in serious trouble (as the roster currently stands, of course).

Right guard: “I’m really excited about Allen [Barbre]. We’ve been high on Allen for a long time. Was playing really well and then hurt his ankle in the first game. He came in the year before and did an unbelievable job when JP was out against Green Bay in a real tough matchup against a real good team in Green Bay and really did well for himself. Versatile player. Feel very confident in Allen Barbre.”

I view the right guard spot as more of a question mark than many. Maybe Barbre will be good, but he needs to prove it. Right guard is a spot where you don’t need the most talented guy, but at the same time, the Eagles couldn’t find anyone to play at an above-average level last year after Todd Herremans went down.

I still think a rookie is just as likely to be starting there as Barbre.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie believes that Sam Bradford is worth the risk.

Kelly responds to Tra Thomas’ claims of racism.

Kelly with good insight on why he targets specific players who fit his vision.

Sifting through the spin: Making sense of Kelly’s thoughts on Bradford, Foles and Mariota.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

John Gonzalez of CSN Philly takes a look at the Eagles’ new front-office dynamic:

According to Lurie, Sam Bradford is a “franchise quarterback,” a guy Kelly really liked and the Eagles had as the best prospect at the position coming out of college since Peyton Manning. And so Nick Foles was exiled to St. Louis.

There is no question, the owner admitted, that Kelly has “final say.” And the first say and all the says in between, too. Lurie called it a “streamlined process” — “the most streamlined you can be.”

The streamlined process is essentially this: What does Kelly want? Because if it is in Lurie’s power to grant it, that is what Kelly will get. There is no equivocation now. Lurie made his decision. That is fine. All good dramas ask tough choices of the principal characters. But here is the thing: when you kill off so much of the main cast, a lot is required of those who survive.

Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz believes that the aggressiveness shown by Kelly should be expected:

I’ve preached all offseason that the Eagles should be aggressive. They have to let Chip do things his way. You don’t hire Chip Kelly and then ask him to be conventional. That just doesn’t work.

Those of you who don’t like Chip as much as me get frustrated when I write this. You want him to do things that make sense to you. I get the mentality, but I look at things differently. I’m always trying to figure out what makes Chip see things differently. His moves are done for a reason. Rather than just disagree, I prefer to try to understand them.

Chip obviously explained his ideas well to Lurie and this offseason has been one bold move after another. Time will be the best judge of what was smart and what wasn’t.

COMING UP

We’ll be back in Philadelphia, but there’s plenty more to dissect.