Chip Kelly Makes His Mark In The Draft
By Scott Daniels
The Philadelphia Eagles didn't shock anyone in the 2013 NFL Draft. They held onto their top pick and, as predicted, selected a versatile offensive lineman they so desperately needed. They appeared to stick to their game plan in acquiring a diverse group of prospects, but it’s far too early to grade their picks.
The draft is nothing more than a calculated lottery. Teams can do all the analysis and interviewing they want, but the reality is that no one will know how these draft prospects will make out until they finally make their debut in the pro ranks. That said, the Eagles did a tremendous job in drafting position players they needed, not wanted.
The Eagles immediately upgraded their offensive line by drafting Lane Johnson in the first round. He’s a large, athletic lineman who can play on the right or left side. Not only was this the right pick, but Johnson’s versatility will allow him to exceed in any system.
In the second round, the Eagles turned a few heads. With Geno Smith still available, Chip Kelly opted for Zach Ertz, a highly touted tight end who enjoyed a great career at Stanford — another weapon for an already talented offense. Ertz will complement Brent Celek, and will be a great option in a potent aerial attack.
After taking a defensive tackle in the third round, the Eagles made instant headlines with their next selection. With the first pick of the fourth round, the Eagles took Matt Barkley, a quintessential pocket passer out of USC. Although Barkley took a backseat to a handful of other quarterbacks in this year’s draft, the Eagles saw great value at getting him 98th overall. While he may not fit into your typical Kelly offense, the Barkley acquisition proves that no one really knows what kind of offense Kelly will unleash this season. Bottom line: this was a great value pick. If it doesn’t pan out, it costs the Eagles nothing.
After the Eagles made their quarterback situation a bit more interesting, they continued to solidify their battered secondary by taking Earl Wolff, a safety out of North Carolina State, in the fifth round. Then they took Jordan Poyer, a cornerback out of Oregon State, in the seventh round. It’s very hard to knock either of these selections, but the expectations are relatively low — special teams warriors and serviceable backups in the years to come.
Finally, the Eagles picked up a tandem of defensive ends in the seventh round as well. Joe Kruger, a four-year starter out of Utah, and David King, an athletic defender and effective pass rusher. These two are essentially fliers that could pan out and have lengthy careers, or be out of the league in two years. Regardless, they were prudent selections for the Eagles to add depth to the defensive line.
Overall, the Eagles appeared to have addressed some needs. The Barkley pick was intriguing, but it overshadowed a crop of multitalented prospects that represent the future of the Eagles. No grade yet for this crop of talent, but we’ll know how good they are soon enough.