Mel Kiper Jr., a draft guru himself, praised Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles for their second round selection in the 2014 draft.
Howie Roseman had the most input when deciding who to select in the draft, and he faced severe criticism with his first round pick, Marcus Smith. Smith, who was drafted to play OLB, struggled to get on the field for the Eagles in 2014 and mostly filled in at ILB due to injuries depleting Philadelphia’s linebacking core; perhaps the reason Chip Kelly is now in charge of drafting players.
Yes, Roseman looks as he wasted a first round pick, but according to Mel Kiper Jr., his second round selection, Jordan Matthews, was brilliant; "If Matthews continues to develop, he's an elite receiver, he's a number one," Kiper proclaimed.
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"They hit the jackpot with Jordan Matthews, he should've been a one.” He also stated that the Eagles would have been less criticized if they selected Matthews in the first round and Smith in the second.
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Mel Kiper Applauds Matthews Selection
Exactly how good did Matthews perform in his rookie campaign?
Matthews arguably had the most productive season as a rookie receiver for the Birds since DeSean Jackson was drafted. Jackson accumulated 912 yards as a rookie, 40 more yards than Matthews had, but Matthews hauled in 67 receptions including eight touchdowns, compared to 62 receptions and two touchdowns for Jackson.
Matthews' potential may very well be the reason the Eagles did not break the bank for Jeremy Maclin. He must replace Maclin’s productivity for the Birds the same way Maclin had to replace Jackson.
Deep Receiver Class
Mel Kiper also applauded the Eagles’ offseason acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball, specifically improvements to the secondary; "They put themselves in a position with [Byron] Maxwell coming in, with [Walter] Thurmond coming in, that they don't have to take the cornerback early on," Kiper said. "They're a team right now that could go several directions.”
Matthews was one of many rookie receivers in 2014 to have a productive season for their teams. The list includes the Rookie of the Year, Odell Beckham Jr., who Chip Kelly admitted he felt was the best player in the draft.
Just as it was in 2014, the 2015 draft class is filled with talented receivers and the Eagles have already begun evaluating their options. They have set up pre-draft visits with several receivers including Nelson Agholor from USC, Jaelen Strong out of Arizona State, Chris Conley from Georgia, and recently, Rashad Greene, who won a national championship with Florida State.
Eagles Need A Guy To Stretch The Field
Chip Kelly is known to be fond of big receivers but the Eagles need a guy who can stretch the field. Matthews is good enough to be the possession receiver for the Birds.
Philly also has Josh Huff, who they have high expectations for and can thrive in the slot under Kelly, but they don’t have that explosive option on the outside to take the top off of a defense. Having a weapon at your disposal to stretch the field opens up opportunities.
In 2013, the Eagles had that in DeSean Jackson, who forced defenses to play back and opened up holes for the running game, which in turn made the Eagles the number one rushing attack in the NFL. The Eagles proceeded to cut Jackson, and defenses were able to contain Lesean McCoy and company more effectively in 2014.
There are several guys in the draft who offer the ability to stretch the field. Phillip Dorsett from Miami, who ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, has yet to have a visit with the Eagles but would be a great addition to the Birds. Also Chris Conley, who has visited with the Eagles, ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and possesses the size Kelly covets, standing at 6 foot 1. There are a variety of options for the Eagles to choose from, but adding an explosive weapon on the outside would help replace Maclin while also making the Eagles more dynamic.
Eagles In A Good Position
Mel Kiper is not alone in his optimism for the Eagles; Conor Orr of NFL.Com believes the Eagles will be back in the playoffs in 2015.
“If only because we cannot think of the pandemonium on hand if this new-look Chip Kelly team tanks. But in all seriousness, the coach has two backs (DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews) who better fit the power spread, and he might very well be primed to grab a quarterback who knows exactly how to run it.
"Kelly has done wonders with Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles, so it's not like he's stuck with former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. On top of all this, Kelly is wasting no time making some serious upgrades to his secondary. This is a better team all around.”
This offseason the Eagles have added a star inside linebacker in Kiko Alonso and upgraded the secondary bringing in the top corner on the market, Byron Maxwell. Philly also brought in Maxwell’s former teammate in Seattle, Walter Thurmond III, to compete at the other corner position. It was obvious the Kelly made it a point of emphasis to address the defense, but the Eagles are also completely different on the offensive side of the ball.
If Sam Bradford can manage to stay healthy, the Eagles are one more receiver from going from good to great.
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