The team has been linked to a slew of prospects, whether it be an offensive tackle, a defensive lineman, a cornerback or quarterback Geno Smith. Chip Kelly has never coached in the NFL before, so it’s impossible to predict which player (or even position) he will value.
Kelly does inherit a team that went just 4-12 under Andy Reid’s final campaign in Philly, meaning there are holes on the roster that need to be fixed. Getting the fourth overall selection right will be essential, but so will making the right move with picks 35, 67 and so on.
According to Lance Zierlein of The Houston Chronicle, "I was told to “plug Geno in here” by a league source and I usually listen when this guy speaks."
Logic would link the Philadelphia Eagles with Geno Smith. Smith is the top quarterback in the draft class, and he seems to be a good fit for the offense Chip Kelly runs.
Smith has been timed at 4.59 in the 40-yard dash. Despite subpar running statistics at West Virginia, he possesses the speed to scare defenders into thinking he’s a threat to take off and run. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was vague after his initial meeting with Smith, but that could be a smokescreen.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie has visited just one other prospect before as Eagles owner. That was quarterback Donovan McNabb, a player Andy Reid made his first-ever pick as head coach. Kelly does need a franchise quarterback to run his offense, and Michael Vick isn’t the long-term answer. It doesn’t seem likely that Nick Foles will be able to be the team’s signal-caller either, given his lack of mobility.
The problem with Smith is that the Eagles will likely have to take him at the fourth pick. That’s too high for Smith’s value, but he won’t last until the second round. At this point, the odds seem higher that Kelly passes on Smith.
If the Philadelphia Eagles take Geno Smith, then E.J. Manuel is out. But should Chip Kelly pass on Smith, Manuel then becomes a greater priority.
Manuel is physically gifted at 6’5” and over 240 pounds. He’s athletic enough to run Kelly’s offense, and he’s probably a better fit to do so than Smith. Manuel himself has even said he would like to play for the Eagles.
Furthermore, according to Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk, Manuel said on the Dan Patrick Show that the Eagles (who own the No. 4 overall pick), the Bills (No. 8) and the Jets (No. 9) have all made him feel like there’s a good chance they’ll select him.
The hype surrounding Manuel could vault him into the first-round discussion. That means the Eagles will need to trade up from pick 35. There’s been speculation Manuel could go as high as eighth overall to the Buffalo Bills. But if he falls past the Bills and New York Jets, it’s doubtful any team takes him until the late first round.
The Eagles would probably want to position themselves around the New England Patriots’ selection (29th) to grab Manuel. That way, they beat out the Jacksonville Jaguars at the 33rd pick. Consider this as a real likelihood of occurring.
Luke Joeckel is the odds-on favorite to go first overall to the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be most interested in defensive end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan. The latter news comes from Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net.
The Oakland Raiders’ pick at No. 3 could go several different ways. If the team selects Geno Smith, the Philadelphia Eagles will have their choice of defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotulelei. Floyd will likely play 3-4 end opposite Fletcher Cox in the Eagles’ defense, while Lotulelei is a massive zero-technique nose tackle that will line up directly over center.
Either one would be a great addition to the defense. The Eagles currently have 32-year-old Isaac Sopoaga as a stopgap nose tackle. Fletcher Cox is one of the 3-4 ends, but the other side will likely be manned by Vinny Curry or Cedric Thornton unless the team finds a replacement.
Neither is a truly exciting pick. The Eagles have picked a defensive lineman six times in the past 11 first rounds (Corey Simon, Jerome McDougle, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox). This could easily be No. 7.
A cornerstone left tackle can shoot up a draft board, and there are three that could potentially go in this year’s top five. Luke Joeckel is viewed as the likely No. 1 overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Eric Fisher is a top-five candidate.
Lane Johnson’s stock has been rapidly rising though, and he’s been linked to the Philadelphia Eagles. Johnson himself has said he thinks the Eagles could take him.
Johnson isn’t quite the prospect that Joeckel or Fisher is, but he has the highest upside. Johnson is a former collegiate quarterback and he’s incredibly athletic. He was timed at 4.71 in the 40-yard dash, and he has the ability to excel in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Johnson is pretty much a younger version of Jason Peters. He will be able to get downfield and block for LeSean McCoy, and he can play anywhere on the offensive line. The fourth pick seems like a reach, but if Kelly views him as a fit, it could be a perfect match.
It seems logical that a rookie head coach coming up from the college ranks will want to load up on his own players. Chip Kelly has never played in the NFL, and he’s never coached in the NFL. That would make it likely that he looks strongly at the top prospects he coached at the University of Oregon.
Dion Jordan is a definite candidate for the fourth overall pick. He’s the kind of player that can line up all over the field on defense, and offensive coordinators always have to account for him. The Philadelphia Eagles have a plethora of talented pass-rushing 3-4 linebackers in Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. But Jordan has the versatility that he will still play 60-70 snaps per game.
Kyle Long is a terrific second-round prospect. An offensive tackle/guard, Long played for Kelly at Oregon and would fill a huge position of need. He could start immediately at right tackle and allow Todd Herremans to move inside to his natural guard position. Or he could play guard and replace Danny Watkins, while Herremans stays at right tackle.
Kiko Alonso is an inside linebacker projected to go in the third round. He has experience having played in a 3-4, and the Eagles could use another inside linebacker. DeMeco Ryans could be a surprise release soon. He’s entering his eighth NFL season, has suffered a serious injury previously, has struggled in the 3-4 and is due to make $6.7 million in 2013.
There’s definitely a good possibility Jordan, Long or Alonso winds up on the Eagles, if not more than one of them. Kenjon Barner, the team’s star running back, is another player that Kelly could consider. Barner has been viewed as a product of the system, but there’s also reason to believe he will succeed in the NFL.
Odds are high that Kelly will pick at least one of his former Ducks and not just because they were on his college team but because they will fit the Eagles.
Cornerback is a position of need for the Philadelphia Eagles, but there hasn’t been much hype linking Dee Milliner to Chip Kelly’s team. Milliner is unquestionably the top corner prospect, and he has the ability to be a shutdown player in the NFL.
After the failed experiment with Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles could use an upgrade. They did ink Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher to free-agent deals, but Fletcher is a stretch as a starter. Milliner would step right in and face the opposition’s No. 1 receiver like Morris Claiborne did for the Dallas Cowboys last season.
Milliner’s stock has quietly dropped as of late, and he’s not guaranteed to go in the top 10 picks. The Eagles even cancelled a scheduled visit with him, although that could be because they felt they know enough about him already. New Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is from Alabama, so he did watch Milliner frequently for two years.
It’s likely though the only way the Eagles pick Milliner is if they receive an offer to trade down and he’s available around picks eight through 10.
Daniel Berk of the Arizona Daily Star reported the following in March: "Chip Kelly and the Eagles will be the first team to meet with Matt Scott. Scheduled for Monday."
Drafting Matt Scott is much less risky than Geno Smith or E.J. Manuel. Scott could be a third or fourth round pickup should Chip Kelly express interest. It's not as big of a deal if Scott doesn't develop as Kelly hopes, but if Smith or Manuel fails, it could cost Kelly his job.
Scott possesses the tools to run Kelly's offense. He's 6'4" and mobile enough that he should be an ideal fit. Scott was just a one-year starter but he played very well in 2012. He threw 27 touchdowns, completed over 60 percent of his passes, and ran for six touchdowns, including one in the bowl game.
The odds are definitely high that Kelly considers Scott as a future quarterback for his offense. He may take him as high as the top of the third round.