The 2015 NFL draft is less than a month away and for every team there is an opportunity to build for the future while also finding players who can make an immediate impact. Perhaps the most interesting team to watch in the draft is the new-look Philadelphia Eagles.
CHIP KELLY THE GM
Chip Kelly was essentially made the general manager of the Eagles this offseason; owner Jeffery Lurie explained that he thought it was in the best interest to allow Kelly to choose his personnel. While expanding Kelly’s role in the organization, Lurie diminished the power of former “general manager” Howie Roseman, who is now in charge of salaries and contracts.
Lurie explained that the Eagles were a talented team with potential, but he felt this move was needed for the Eagles to make the transition from being good to great. “We are a good football team and we believe these steps will help make us a great team," Lurie elaborated. "That step — from good to great — is the most difficult one for any organization to make.”
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In the Chip Kelly era, the Eagles are 20 and 12, which is impressive when you take into consideration that Kelly inherited an Eagles team that won four games in Andy Reid's final season. Yes, the Eagles have been good thus far under Kelly, but they struggled against quality opponents. Against teams that finished the season above .500 the Eagles are four and eight, including playoffs, over the past two seasons.
If giving Kelly total control is what Lurie thinks will propel the Eagles, then he made the right decision. Sure it is risky to give a relatively new head coach all the power, but the Eagles have never won a ring, it’s about time they started taking some risks. The fans of Philadelphia are not content with winning regular season games.
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DEALING WITH CRITICISM
In his first offseason as the GM, Chip has brought in an entirely new secondary to improve upon a pass defense that was ranked dead last in 2013 and second to last in 2014. Chip also traded away the face of the Eagles’ franchise, LeSean McCoy, in a move that was very unpopular.
As analysts had time to evaluate the trade and the shock value simmered, several people applauded what Kelly did. He traded for Kiko Alonso, who as a rookie was a star ILB. Alonso, unfortunately missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL; but if healthy, he will make the Eagles front seven loaded. Trading McCoy also opened up a ton of cap space for the Birds and Kelly used that money to acquire Byron Maxwell from Seattle, who was the top cornerback on the market. In essence, he shipped McCoy away for a stud ILB and the best cornerback Philly has had since Asante Samuel, while also replacing McCoy with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.
Kelly also traded away a 26-year-old quarterback, Nick Foles, who was 14 and 4 under Kelly and made the Pro Bowl in 2013. He traded Foles to the Rams for the former number one pick of the 2010 draft, Sam Bradford. Bradford’s ability is not in question; it's his inability to stay healthy that has people wondering why Chip wanted him.
HOLES TO FILL
It is intriguing to see how Chip Kelly’s first draft with full control will play out. Chip has several holes he needs to feel if the Eagles are going to compete for the Super Bowl. Jeremy Maclin’s departure left a glaring need at the receiver position. Also, replacing Todd Herremans on the offensive line is crucial. The Eagles have upgraded at the cornerback position but there is still nobody reliable on the roster to play alongside Malcolm Jenkins at safety. And cornerback is still a need as the Eagles lack depth at the position. With so many holes to fill, it is interesting to see how Kelly will prioritize need and value.
Philly holds the 20th overall pick and Chip can go in several directions with the pick. Scouts have raved about the receiver class and how loaded the draft is with talented wide outs. This would allow the Eagles to use their first pick on another need and grab a receiver a little later in the draft. The Eagles’ biggest need is unquestionably safety and unfortunately the safety class is widely recognized as a weak one; it’s Landon Collins from Alabama and then everyone else.
TWO ROUND MOCK DRAFT
- 20th pick 1st round: Byron Jones, CB, UCONN- Byron Jones’ projections has skyrocketed ever since his freakish combine results. Jones set the world record jumping 12 feet 3 inches in the broad jump. He also amazed everyone with his 44.5 vertical jump. Originally, the plan was for Jones to avoid taking apart of the drills at the combine as he was recovering from shoulder surgery; but his decision has risen his projections from a mid-second round pick to a first round pick. All that was left was for Jones to run a 40-yard dash. At his pro day, Jones ran an impressive 4.40. Jones fits everything Kelly is looking for in corners with his 6 foot 1 stature and his ability to play press. His inhuman athleticism is a bonus to an already gifted corner.
- 52nd pick 2nd round: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami- Dorsett does not fit the criteria of Kelly’s preferred, big, receiver but he would be a great fit. The Eagles already have Riley Copper and Jordan Matthews, who are big targets, but the Eagles lack that explosive receiver. Philly does not have that option to stretch the field vertically. They had that in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin--who both had career years under Kelly--but with those two gone they need to add a vertical threat. Dorsett ran under a 4.30 40-yard dash at his pro day and caught 10 touchdowns for the Hurricanes in 2014.
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