Six Early Draft Projections for Chip Kelly's Eagles
With news of Chip Kelly becoming the 21st coach in Philadelphia Eagles history, many questions arise from the onset of this new era:
Who will be the defensive coordinator?
Who will start at quarterback?
Can Chip Kelly adapt his offensive scheme to a pro level?
The excitement has already hit Eagles fans as they attempt to debate these answers.
But one thing for sure is that this 4-12 team will need a huge roster shakeup. Not only to recover from last year’s debacle, but to adapt to Chip Kelly’s high octane offense. The best place for that will be the upcoming 2013 draft.
And just like all the other questions swirling around the Eagles at this time, it’s not too early to see which players from this year’s draft would be an attractive option for Kelly’s Eagles.
Denard Robinson (QB/WR)
At the beginning of the college football season, Robinson was highly touted as a Heisman favorite. But after a mediocre start and sustaining an injury in late October, his chances of winning the Heisman fell quickly, along with his prospects of playing quarterback in the NFL.
Currently he is slated to play at wide receiver at the Senior Bowl, but that does not mean his skills at quarterback have completely diminished.
Chip Kelly runs a high-speed and high-caliber offense, and Robinson fits the bill. He boasts a 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds, along with over 4,000 yards rushing in his four years at Michigan. He leaves college with an overall passer rating of 126.8.
He may play wide receiver in the NFL, but don’t be surprised if he gets drafted because of his ability to give the team more options in a wildcat offense.
E.J. Manuel (QB)
Michael Vick and Nick Foles are likely to compete for next year’s starting QB position, but both have questions marks heading in.
Vick will be 33 before the season starts, and is riddled with injuries that have caused him to lose a step or two.
Foles is the more attractive option, as he is younger and led the Eagles team down the stretch last season. But he is primarily a pocket passer who could struggle in the new system.
In comes E.J. Manuel, a 6’4” quarterback from Florida State who has the size, mobility, and arm power it takes to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. He is a projected third-round talent who is still raw, and will need mentoring, but he is someone who can compete for a job in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense.
Luke Joeckel (T)
This does not come as a surprise. The offensive line is in shambles. It won’t matter who wins the quarterback job—he will fail if the offensive line is not fixed. Luke Joeckel is the man to save it.
Jason Peters has a torn Achilles and is getting older, Todd Herremans is recovering from a foot injury, and the rest of the line is not even worth mentioning (except Evan Mathis, who was the lone bright spot).
Joeckel has a rare combination of size and athleticism that Chip Kelly would not hesitate to put on his offensive line. He started off slowly this past season, but progressed tremendously, garnering Johnny Manziel a Heisman in the process.
Jarvis Jones (DE/OLB)
According to CSNPhilly.com, Chip Kelly has contacted Todd Grantham, the current defensive coordinator of the Georgia Bulldogs, to ply his trade at the pro level. With the hire, the chances of drafting Jarvis Jones improve.
The Eagles were the 15th-ranked defense in total yards allowed, which is deceiving, considering they were 23rd overall in rush defense and gave up 52 touchdowns, which was fourth-worst in the league last year. Plus they were called a “soft” defense. Ouch.
Jarvis Jones would be a guy that could bring an immediate toughness to the team, and who would transition well under the tutelage of Grantham. Jones led the Bulldogs with 77 tackles in 13 games last year and set the single-season sack record (14.5).
Jones is a natural born pass-rusher who has the skills to operate at the NFL level, and would be a welcome addition to the Eagles.
Johnny Adams (CB)
This pick is a bit of a stretch. Adams is not projected to go until the fifth or sixth round of the draft, but he could turn out to be a diamond in the rough.
At 5’11’’, Adams stands to be one of the shortest cornerbacks coming out of this draft, but his knack for making big plays makes him stand out amongst the rest. He is an agile, speedy cornerback who ranks among Michigan State University’s past greats in interceptions (11), interception return yards (230) and passes defended (35).
Chip Kelly has always succeeded with cornerbacks of similar caliber to Adams (Erick Dargan, Eddie Pleasant, Cliff Harris) at Oregon, so he is one to watch out for in April.
John Boyett (FS)
Chip Kelly hasn’t seen much Eagles footage, but when he does, he will find a glaring need at safety.
Last year the tandem of Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen was nothing short of mediocre. In comes John Boyett who fits the bill (literally) of a Chip Kelly-run team.
He is a good all-around defender who is physical and has great instincts on the ball. He led the Ducks in tackles last season (108) while registering seven deflected passes and two blocked kicks. Ever since he joined Oregon, he has always had a record of solid campaigns.