The Philadelphia Eagles will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this upcoming season thanks mostly to the addition of Chip Kelly as their new head coach.
Kelly has become one of the hottest coaching names in some time thanks to the offense he ran at Oregon. His attempt to infuse some of that into Philadelphia's offense will be the big thing to watch as training camp starts in a few months.
The number of questions surrounding this offense are many. Can Chip Kelly turn his read-zone plays in a spread offense into a productive system? The answer to that is simple.
It depends a great deal on the quarterback. Kelly's teams in Oregon have always been focused on speed, and having players like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy on the team means that he should not have too much trouble implementing them in the offense.
There are no issues, it seems, until we get to the quarterback spot. I like Nick Foles, but he's a pocket passer, and that's not what Kelly's system is about at all.
Michael Vick makes more sense, but Kelly is going to want a young guy to make things work with the new offense. Besides, Vick hasn't played like he did in 2010 and is on the wrong side of 30.
With all that in mind, let's say that Chip Kelly grabs a rookie quarterback to work with the new system. Which is the best fit among the top and mid-level quarterback prospects?
We can immediately take out the pocket passers. Mike Glennon and Tyler Bray would never work, and Ryan Nassib is only marginally better in that regard. Tyler Wilson can run a bit more if needed, but doesn't fit the uptempo style Kelly would want. They are pocket passers at heart.
Landry Jones makes sense due to playing in the spread in Oklahoma at times, but he struggles to make the quick short throws that would need to be made to keep the team's tempo going.
Collin Klein actually has a great build for the offense and could potentially be an end-draft pickup the Eagles try out. He still needs a lot of work making throws in motion though, and is not NFL-ready.
This leaves three potential options for Kelly: Zac Dysert, Geno Smith, and E.J. Manuel.
Geno Smith would have the easiest transition of any quarterback in the draft. He knows how to score quickly and easily , having played with West Virginia's high-octane offense all season.
He's efficient and can run if needed, but prefers finding the open man. The way Kelly's offense is being designed should make it easy to find open targets, though we can all admit that throwing to Big 12 defenses isn't exactly difficult.
As great a fit as he sounds, it's likely that the Chiefs pick him first overall, making the point moot. On the off chance he does fall to four, then don't be shocked if he is the Eagles' selection.
Dysert is a dark horse possibility compared to the other two. He has primarily played out of the shotgun, and can make quick throws. He's also one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the draft, though that says more about the other quarterbacks than him.
He comes off as a project, not someone that can just jump in, but if Kelly wants to groom him for a year, it could work out.
If speed is a top priority for the quarterback in Kelly's mind, then he picked a bad year to draft. Last year, Luck, Griffin, Tannehill and Wilson all had sub-4.7s in the 40-yard dash.
This year? Among the top ten guys, only E.J. Manuel is likely to pass that mark. In fact, on the surface he seems like he has the ideal balance of running and passing ability. There's only one problem.
His biggest weakness is, according to Dane Brugler, "[Manuel] seemed rattled by pressure, creating much concern among NFL teams about his ability to quickly read the defense, process and anticipate open windows."
Even if Kelly just utilizes small pieces of his offense in the pros, reading the defense quickly and opening windows when the field is stretched is exactly what Kelly needs in a quarterback.
Despite that, Manuel is perhaps the best bet. Manuel himself has stated that he would love to be a part of Kelly's team, and as long as he wasn't a day one starter, he could end up being precisely what Kelly wants.
Like Dysert, Manuel's a project right now, but there's no question he can play the game. Besides, if Kelly feels the same way about those two as I do, one will be drafted early, he won't have to worry about someone else swiping the quarterback he wants.
In the end, who is the best quarterback for Kelly. As Daniel Jeremiah said at NFL.com, "Who's a quarterback that fits that offense? We really can't find one in this particular draft."
While that is true, a quarterback like Dysert and Manuel is versatile enough that Kelly can draft him and shape him into just the quarterback he needs for his new NFL offense.