If Nick Foles’ performance showed anything last week, it’s that the Philadelphia Eagles should be looking ahead to the NFL draft for their franchise quarterback. Foles’ inept passing line (11-of-29 for 80 yards) was just one game, but a three-touchdown performance likely wouldn’t lock the job down for him either.
He was a third-round pick for a reason, and Chip Kelly will need his quarterback of the future to successfully run his high-powered offense. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is the logical pick for every Eagles fan because of the obvious Oregon ties, but he’s not the only quarterback that should be on Kelly’s radar.
Depending on how many games the Eagles win, they may be out of the hunt for Mariota. He’s likely going to be viewed as a top-five overall prospect, which means Kelly should keep his eye on many college scoreboards during this season. It’s a quarterback-rich draft, and a franchise quarterback is worth his weight in gold.
The following quarterbacks would look good in Eagles’ green next season, with an additional slide devoted to mid-round quarterbacks Kelly could select to groom for the future.
Marcus Mariota is shooting up NFL draft big boards, and he has a chance to push Teddy Bridgewater as the first quarterback—or even player—taken in 2014. He’s a 6’4”, 211-pound redshirt sophomore with the skills to succeed at the next level.
Chip Kelly will need a quarterback, barring a miraculous turnaround from Nick Foles, and he’s certainly shown an affection for his Oregon players. Mariota is a dynamic threat, and players of his caliber are special franchise players.
This year, Mariota has thrown 19 touchdowns to zero interceptions. He’s completing 62 percent of his passes and averaging a ridiculous 10.4 yards per attempt. He also possesses the all-important mobility factor, as evidenced by his outstanding numbers—493 rushing yards on an NCAA-best 10.4 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns. While he hasn’t been tested by elite competition, he’s still a dual-threat quarterback.
He would look really good in an Eagles uniform. He’s going to be just 20 years old at the start of next football season, which means he should have a long career ahead of him.
Teddy Bridgewater is widely regarded as not just the top overall quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft, but the top overall player.
Bridgewater is 6’3”, 200 pounds, and clearly the best passer available. This is where he gets the huge edge over Marcus Mariota. Bridgewater is completing an absurd 72 percent of his passes. He’s deadly accurate and possesses a strong arm. He has 20 touchdowns to just two interceptions, and he’s averaging more than 10 yards per attempt.
Bridgewater isn’t near the threat to run that Mariota is, but he would be a superb fit for the high-tempo offense. He’s very efficient as a passer, and he still possesses above-average speed. He would do wonders in Chip Kelly’s offense.
It remains to be seen where Johnny Manziel will go in the 2014 NFL draft. He’s a tremendously talented player and captured the Heisman Trophy as a freshman. Should he come out after this season, he will certainly be a coveted first-round prospect.
Manziel has a strong arm, and he’s a terrific runner. He’s the kind of player that can become the face of a franchise. Manziel’s off-the-field concerns will worry some teams, but the real issue is whether his smaller frame translates to the NFL level.
Chip Kelly would love a prospect like Manziel, though. Johnny Football is much more accurate than he’s given credit for, as he’s at a 72-percent clip passing the football. His interceptions are substantially higher than last year, but he’s still a first-round quarterback. Imagine an offense with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz and Manziel.
Brett Hundley may sneak into the top five draft picks in 2014. He’s a complete football player, a quarterback that can both run and pass the football. He’s got NFL size at 6’3”, 227 pounds, and he possesses the arm strength and athleticism to succeed in the National Football League as well.
Hundley’s numbers this year (66.8 completion percentage, 13 passing touchdowns, six interceptions) are made more impressive by the fact that he’s still just a sophomore. Hundley is a prospect Chip Kelly can mold into an elite quarterback, although Hundley is already pretty close.
He’s a talented runner as well. Hundley has rushed for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns in six games. He’s not nearly as fast as Michael Vick, but he’s a better passer, still a threat to run, and he’s 13 years younger. Hundley would be a dynamic fit for Kelly’s offense.
Tajh Boyd is likely a step behind the aforementioned four players, but he should still go in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Boyd is shorter than a traditional NFL quarterback at just 6’1”, but he’s solidly built at 225 pounds. Boyd is a four-year starter who has put up very good passing numbers. Last year, Boyd threw for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns, while rushing for 10 more.
Boyd will be 24 years old early in next season, so it’s best that Chip Kelly would start him immediately if he does draft him. Then again, quarterbacks so rarely sit their first year anymore.
Chip Kelly may want to pick another mid-round quarterback, like he did with Matt Barkley. Michael Vick likely won’t be back, and Nick Foles may be an offseason trade to a team aspiring for a young quarterback to groom.
Should Kelly target a quarterback from rounds four to six, here are some potential candidates.
Braxton Miller, Ohio State: A very good college quarterback with terrific athleticism who can run well enough to lead Kelly’s offense.
Devin Gardner, Michigan: Like Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner is really overmatched as a passer. He won’t likely be able to succeed at the NFL level. The best bet is that Kelly uses him as some sort of an offensive weapon.
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State: Solid passer, solid runner, possible mid-round prospect to sit for a couple of years and fill in if the starter gets injured.