Eagles Wake-Up Call: Visits Matter Under Chip
Today’s question comes from reader Yul via email:
With Chip’s emphasis on culture, is it possible that from now on, the Eagles will NOT draft any player that wasn’t either interviewed at the Combine, had a pre-draft visit, or went to Oregon? Can’t say for sure last year or before if this was true (since Howie had his hand in the draft), but from now on, will be interesting to see if combine interview/pre-draft visit/Oregon player is a good predictor of who’s on the Eagles’ board…
It’s actually been a solid predictor since Chip Kelly took over as head coach. Per Jimmy Kempski’s count, six of the seven Eagles’ draft picks in 2014 were brought in for a visit — the lone exception being Josh Huff, who Kelly knew quite well from their time at Oregon together. Tommy Lawlor wrote about a similar vetting process in Kelly’s rookie year.
Kelly often goes on the road to visit these prospects as well. He attended both Marcus Smith and Jordan Matthews‘ pro days last season, suggesting it might not be just about who comes to Philly, but also who Kelly is motivated to leave Philly for. When he skips the Seminoles’ pro day so he and his crew can check out UCONN DB Byron Jones, or flies to Tampa to personally work out USC wideout Nelson Agholor, it’s at least worth making a mental note of.
A coach that values efficiency as much as Kelly is not going to waste a lot of movements. He won’t hop on a jet or bring someone in unless there is information to be gleaned about a prospect he has interest in. And as you referenced, Yul, he wants guys that are wired a certain way. Jeffrey Lurie noted at the owners meetings that he has never seen a scouting system as defined as Kelly’s. “It’s incredibly detailed, both psychologically, athletically, in so many categories,” he said. When you’re searching for such a specific type of player and personality, it becomes all the more important that you spend as much time as you can with the prospects and try to get a feel for how they might fit in your environment.
Players typically speak with the local media by conference call shortly after being drafted. Sometimes they express surprise about landing with a certain club because said team had not been in contact with them during the lead-up to the draft. It’s difficult to envision such a conversation taking place with an Eagles selection under Kelly. This regime gets up close and personal during the pre-draft process, and that certainly will remain the case now that Kelly has further influence over the proceedings.
For a list of who the Eagles have checked out to this point, click here.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Some players thrive on security while others are better motivated by fear.” NFC East roundup.
How do receiver prospects grade out according to Pro Football Focus? That and more in Weekend Reading.
“I’ve heard it from a couple people. Chip Kelly said, ‘Mariota will win multiple Super Bowls in the NFL.'” Jaws with some interesting comments.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Geoff Mosher wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles trade back from No. 20.
I wouldn’t be stunned if the Eagles traded back to acquire picks and fill more positions of need than sitting at 20 and taking someone who might not be the best player at his position or the best fit for Kelly’s scheme and program.
Guys the Eagles have scouted heavily — UConn corner Byron Jones, USC wideout Nelson Agholor, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, Utah defensive back Eric Rowe — might not be worthy of the 20th-overall pick but also could be off the board when the Eagles pick again, at 52nd overall. It might be more beneficial of the Eagles to move down and get another second-round pick in return to get the guys they desire without reaching.
Ron Burke mocks UCLA DE/OLB Owa Odighizuwa to the Eagles in the first round.
Odigihizuwa (Oh-DIGGY-zoo-wuh) has jaw-dropping ability and moves extremely well for a man his size. At UCLA, he played in both 3-4 and 4-3 sets. Last season he recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
While I’m not certain he fits as well as some other prospects as a coverage linebacker, I am finding a place for him on my defense because Odighizuwa looks to be a high-impact performer, the type of player that will complement those around him. He plays with smarts and discipline, goes hard on every snap and has the potential to be a disruptive force, especially in the run game.
It’s important to note Odighizuwa does carry a medical history. He has had two surgeries on his hip, and missed the 2013 season because of the problem. That is a concern, but he did come back to have a strong final season.
We’ll keep the draft prep coming.