The Philadelphia Eagles surprised the NFL with a tremendous season in their first year under Chip Kelly, winning 10 games while setting franchise records in both points scored and total yards gained. The biggest improvement belonged to second-year quarterback Nick Foles, who emerged as a potential franchise signal-caller in an offense that maximized his assets.
Foles’ 27 touchdowns and two interceptions put him in elite company in the history of the league; yet there still remains speculation that the Eagles will pick a quarterback in the draft. They may even target one early in the draft, especially after reports surfaced that Philadelphia met with Texas A&M first-round prospect Johnny Manziel at the NFL Scouting Combine from Peter King of Sports Illustrated (h/t Elliott Shorr-Parks of NJ.com).
It’s doubtful the Eagles will take Manziel, barring a draft-day fall on Manziel’s part, a la Brady Quinn in 2007. But Kelly is a quarterback guru, and there’s a good chance he will still pick a quarterback somewhere in the seven rounds. Michael Vick is expected to leave via free agency, which means only Matt Barkley returns as a backup.
Kelly may target a developmental quarterback, one with a potentially high upside but also serious flaws that need mentoring. The following five quarterbacks could be late-round targets for Kelly.
*All Scouting Combine numbers are per NFL.com.
Northern Illinois’s Jordan Lynch is a classic running quarterback in college who could struggle to find a team in the National Football League due to his one-dimensional skill set. Lynch certainly wasn’t without success in college: He was a finalist for the 2013 Heisman Trophy award (finishing third), and he’s one of five quarterbacks in history to account for 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in the same season.
Lynch is a good runner who can move the chains with his legs. He may be comparable to last year’s practice squad QB in Philadelphia, G.J. Kinne. It’s doubtful Chip Kelly would even have to use a draft pick on Lynch, meaning he could grab him as an unsigned free agent. Lynch may not even make an active roster in 2014, seeing how raw he projects to be in the NFL.
Kelly’s ideal situation in signing a player like Lynch would be fine-tuning Lynch’s passing skills. Lynch can already run the football, but his efficiency throwing the ball would be what could hold him back. He tends to lock onto his first target and looks to run whenever possible.
Kelly’s offense clearly works, and he’s a proven quarterback guru—he coaxed career-best numbers out of Vick before he got hurt, and he turned Nick Foles into a Pro Bowl player. Developing Lynch into a solid NFL backup would be a big project, though.
Jeff Mathews certainly isn’t your prototypical Chip Kelly quarterback. Then again, neither is Nick Foles, but that didn’t stop Foles from challenging the single-season record for passer rating in his first season with a new head coach.
Mathews is big enough at 6’4” and over 220 pounds to play in the NFL. He posted a 5.26 40-yard dash, which is remarkably a full eighth of a second slower than Foles, who was the slowest non-lineman at the 2012 Scouting Combine.
Mathews was a four-year starter at Cornell, and he set an Ivy league record with over 11,000 career passing yards. He is an outstanding team leader and is said to be like a coach on the field. Mathews has a strong arm and makes very good decisions. His obvious flaws are his feet: He lacks the mobility to move around in the pocket and create plays by running the football. He also has poor footwork far too often, per Bleacher Report’s draft expert, Matt Miller.
If Mathews lasts until the later rounds, he’d be a great bargain pick for Kelly to grab. The potential upside of a player with Mathews’ intelligence is high enough for Kelly to take him.
Keith Price fits the mold of a Chip Kelly running quarterback. He’s listed at just 6’1” and barely 200 pounds, but he wasn’t thought of highly enough to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Price battled through a shoulder injury for most of his senior season, which could hurt his draft stock. But he produced when called upon, accounting for 73 passing touchdowns in three years at the University of Washington after Jake Locker’s graduation in 2011.
Price’s limited physical stature certainly won’t help his draft stock, but his upside stems from his athleticism and ability to buy time in the pocket with his elusiveness. The obvious comparison for an undersized quarterback with good mobility is Russell Wilson. Price probably isn’t going to be the next Wilson, but he could play well in Chip Kelly’s offense if called upon.
Formerly a potential first- or second-round prospect, Tajh Boyd could fall to the later rounds (or beyond) of the 2014 NFL draft. If he does, it certainly won’t be due to lack of production in college: Boyd threw for 38 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more in his senior season at Clemson, all while completing over 68 percent of his passing attempts.
His tendency to take off and run every time he senses pressure could really hurt his draft stock, perhaps to the point that he would have to latch onto a team as an undrafted free agent.
Biggest takeaway from the week in Mobile: QB Tajh Boyd is not a sure-thing to be drafted #SeniorBowl— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 25, 2014
Boyd’s performance in the Senior Bowl didn’t help his cause, as he was reportedly wild with his accuracy.
Tajh Boyd/Clemson and Logan Thomas/Va Tech all over the place with throws in early going. Stephen Morris/Miami looking better.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 22, 2014
All that could bode well for Chip Kelly. Kelly certainly proved himself to be a quarterback guru last season, coaxing a Pro Bowl season out of Nick Foles, a player who many thought lacked the skill set to run Kelly’s offense in the NFL. Boyd is a much better runner (4.84 40-yard dash), and he’s a long-term developmental prospect should he join the Philadelphia Eagles.
If the Philadelphia Eagles grab Casey Pachall, it will be as an undrafted free agent. It’s highly unlikely he gets drafted, seeing as he wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and endured a miserable senior season. After throwing 35 touchdowns to just eight interceptions from 2011-12, Pachall tossed six touchdowns to a whopping 10 picks in ’13.
Pachall missed extensive time last season after surgery on his broken non-throwing arm. What he does possess is NFL size at 6’4”, and he has an incredibly quick release and strong arm. CBS Sports still lists Pachall close to their top 20 quarterbacks eligible for the draft, due to the upside from his size and arm strength.
Pachall has had substance abuse issues in the past. Combine that with his medical condition and poor senior campaign, and some teams may remove him from their draft boards entirely. The Eagles may be one of those organizations. However, he’s still worth considering as a potential undrafted rookie free agent, one that Kelly could mold into an eventual NFL backup.