We've heard a lot from Chip Kelly over the course of the past 5 days, but one of his most telling and interesting quotes has been hanging out in the fanposts since yesterday. This was Chip's response when questioned where there were specific measurements coaches looked for at each position and if so whether that was dictated to the personnel staff?
"We were very specific," said Kelly. "I think you have to be, because there has to be a certain level that you bring in here. If you constantly take the overachiever at every position, you're going to be too small. If you take the short defensive tackle backed up by the short middle linebacker backed up by the short safety, then all of a sudden you're going to get run over... I think you still have to adhere to the fact that we wanted to get bigger and we felt like we did."
This is really something we've been noting all weekend. Whether it was the size of Matt Barkley's hands (10 1/8") or the length of Bennie Logan's arms (34") the Eagles do seem have to targeted players that adhere to certain physical benchmarks. As Chip Kelly previously said, hand size is something they look for in QBs even moreso than height.
"If the quarterback is not tall, look at his hands. That is the biggest coaching point to finding a quarterback. How big are his hands, and how well can he control the football? The heigh of the quarterback is not the important thing. No one playing quarterback throws over the line. They throw through lanes in the lineman. The important thing is the size of his hands." - Chip Kelly
Matt Barkley fits this line of thinking to a T. He's not particularly tall at 6-2, but he has enormous 10 1/8 inch hands. In fact, his hands were the 2nd biggest of any QB in the class. Actually, Barkley's hands are even bigger than all 4 QBs taken in the first round of last year's draft.
But what advantage does having big hands actually give you? As Chip said, it gives you an added ability to control the ball, which you would think would help in limiting fumbles. Matt Barkley's career so far has certainly backed that up. This is from ESPN Stats & Info.
Only 2 quarterbacks in the NFL had more fumbles than games played in 2012: Michael Vick (11 fum, 10 games) and Nick Foles (8 fum, 7 games). Matt Barkley had 10 fumbles in 47 games at USC -- that's the fewest fumbles by any FBS QB who played 47+ games from 2009-12.
You read that right, Michael Vick fumbled more in 10 games last year than Matt Barkley did over his entire 4 year career at USC. Of course, this isn't necessarily a hard and fast rule... After all Nick Foles' hands measure even larger than Barkley's and he struggled with fumbles last year.
As Birds 24/7 pointed out, there's also the overall size of this draft class with Lane Johnson & Joe Kruger who are both 6-6 as well as Zach Ertz & David King who are both 6-5. There's no question this team got bigger.
This overall philosophy does seem to be a departure from when Andy Reid ran drafts here. He certainly didn't have a specific aversion to size, but he absolutely was always drawn to overachievers.
This isn't to say that Chip Kelly wouldn't have drafted a guys like DeSean Jackson or even Brandon Graham, who were both very productive in college despite having small measurements. But the amount of those type of smaller overachievers will be limited on this team from now on.
After all as Chip said, "Big people beat up little people."