How Should Chip Kelly Attack the 2013 NFL Draft?
There's been a lot of change with the Philadelphia Eagles this year, specifically with the offensive and defensive schemes. Head coach Chip Kelly ushers in a potentially revolutionary offense in replacement of the longtime West Coast offense. And on the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Billy Davis brings a 3-4 defense, which the team has not had much experience with.
In order to speed up the transition of the two schemes, the Eagles have to draft well and attempt to fill as many needs as possible. It's unrealistic to expect that they'll be able to fill all of the team's needs, but they'll be able to fill some.
The best way to fill the needs is to attack the strengths of the draft. That means the offensive line, defensive line and defensive back positions.
Along the offensive line, they could select Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson.
Johnson is one of the fastest risers in the draft because of his mind-boggling athleticism. He is a former quarterback and tight end, and he would be a great fit for Kelly's zone-blocking scheme. He is still raw, however, as he needs to improve his footwork and technique.
Two other options that they could consider later include Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Terron Armstead and Ohio State's Reid Fragel.
Armstead is also extremely raw but offers tremendous upside. He has the tools to develop into a quality tackle and moves exceptionally well despite being 6'5" and 306 pounds. While Armstead is viewed as a likely second-to-third-round selection, Fragel will probably go later. Like Armstead, he's raw, moves well and has upside.
Regardless of who they select, the goal is to find a lineman who has the mobility and athleticism to fit Kelly's zone-blocking scheme. It won't be easy to find one considering how raw the above are, but they are excellent options.
Once the Eagles attack the offensive side of the trenches, they should look at the defensive line.
Defensive coordinator Billy Davis will bring a one-gap, under front from his time with the Arizona Cardinals. What this means is that although the team is a 3-4 in numbers, it operates just like a 4-3 defense because the players are responsible for one gap.
The Eagles should look to add a defensive end, even though it'll be a bit difficult to find one in the draft. There aren't many quality 3-4 end prospects in this year's draft, so that means the Eagles will probably end up playing multiple fronts this upcoming season as their acquisitions settle in.
One player who could intrigue them in the mid-rounds is Clemson's Malliciah Goodman.
Goodman is light at 273 pounds but could add more weight to his frame and is already plenty strong. He benched 26 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine and showed the game strength to anchor based off of my watching. He also has plenty of height and length, measuring in at 6'4" and nearly 37" long arms, to play strong-side end.
At the outside linebacker spot, they'll certainly be on to Oregon's Dion Jordan in the first round. The fit is obvious because of Kelly's ties with Oregon, but Jordan is also a fit in the "Leo" spot of the defense.
What the Leo player does is basically serve as a joker pass-rusher who can play defensive end or outside linebacker. His primary job is to rush the passer, but Jordan offers the team more versatility because he can drop into coverage with great fluidity.
There are questions whether Jordan can rush the passers with consistency, but he offers upside that will make it hard for teams to pass on him.
Looking to the secondary, the Eagles made some moves in free agency, notably acquiring former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams. Williams embodies what appears to be a new attitude for the team, but he tends to struggle in coverage. Despite shelling out money for him and others, the defense needs more pieces in the secondary.
Cornerback Dee Milliner could be selected by the team in the first round, and although there may be detractors, he would be a quality pick.
He reminds me a lot of the San Francisco 49ers' Carlos Rogers, who is also a good athlete and versatile enough to cover multiple positions. Like Rogers, Milliner can play press-man coverage with the best of them because of his balance, athleticism and patience.
Two other options in different rounds include San Diego State's Leon McFadden and Georgia's Sanders Commings.
Both players are versatile and physical. McFadden, specifically, can play in the slot or the perimeter. He is light on his feet and has the ability to mirror receivers step for step. On the other hand, Commings can play safety or cornerback and is bigger at 6' and 216 pounds.
Perhaps an option at safety is Florida's Matt Elam in the second round, if he's available. Elam would add to the toughness in the secondary, although there are concerns about his stature as he is shorter than 5'10".
A second option at safety is Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien, who can play in the box or the center of the field. He runs well enough, has good enough range and is physical. He reminds me a lot of the Green Bay Packers' Morgan Burnett, who is a solid player.
Overall, the Eagles have plenty of options in the draft to fill some of their most pressing needs. It's obvious that they need to upgrade in the trenches and the secondary. Some have argued that they also need a quarterback, but that's highly debatable as Kelly's scheme is flexible enough to accommodate a pure pocket passer or a mobile passer.
If the Eagles can draft the right players for their biggest needs, they'll be taking the right steps in rebuilding their team. Then again, it's easier to say it than to do it.
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