When Chip Kelly was hired, he was compared to other notable exclusively college coaches who made the jump to the NFL. Most of these were unfavorable comparisons, mainly Steve Spurrier and Bobby Petrino. Rarely was he compared to Jimmy Johnson, but perhaps it is time to make more of that comparison. One reason Johnson was so successful was that he used his years of scouting and recruiting reports from college to master the draft while with the Cowboys. With that comes the cautionary tale that by the time Johnson had moved on to the Dolphins, that advantage had run dry, all those college players were already in the league, and his drafts were mediocre. But Chip Kelly is not both head coach and GM like Johnson was, and if that is the price to pay for three Super Bowls in four years, I will sign for that right now.
While it is still too early to make any definitive statements, the Eagles 2013 draft class has so far looked pretty good, in no small part to Kelly. Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan had very good rookie years, Matt Barkley did not but Kelly and Howie Roseman both think highly of him, and while Jordan Poyer did not finish the season with the team, he still wound up on an NFL roster. Chip Kelly faced all four players while at Oregon and they obviously left an impression on him. Knowing this, others who did not play well were likely passed over. It is reasonable to assume that this draft will be no different: if you can not stop them, have them join you.
So we can make some educated guesses on who Chip Kelly has his eye on, and who he is ignoring. This list is by no means complete, it is little more than looking for standout performances by looking at box scores and game recaps. It is tough to judge offensive linemen; a good performance by a defensive lineman could go empty on the score sheet; a lot of tackles could be because of an active player having a great game or because he was cleaning up a messes that kept spilling in front of him; a receiver might have been open a lot but his QB stunk and was unable to get him the ball and so on. Consider this a crib sheet, not a definitive list. Some of these players do not appear to be fits for the Eagles scheme, but neither did Matt Barkley. The players listed below run the gamut from bonafide first rounder to undrafted free agent, and fall into three categories of performance.
Jared Abbrederis WR, Wisconsin - 4 catches for 119 yards and a TD (which was the opening score), 8 kick returns for 201 yards and 2 punt returns 26 yds in the 2012 Rose Bowl.
Dion Bailey OLB/S, USC - 7 tackles in 2011; 10 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss and 1 sack in 2012.
Chris Borland ILB, Wisconsin - 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Also kicked 3 PATs in 2009 vs Hawaii. Special teams versatility!
Deone Bucannon S, Washington State - From 2010-2012, Chip Kelly’s QBs had 23 INTs. Bucannon had 3 of them.
Scott Crichton DE, Oregon State - 12 tackles, 1 TFL, FF in 2011; 3 tackles, 1 TFL in 2012.
Devon Kennard LB, USC - 13 tackles and 1.5 TFL in 2010. Kennard moved all over the field at USC, starting off as a DE, then moved to OLB, in 2010 he was at MLB.
Marqise Lee WR, USC - 20 catches for 344 yards and 3 TDs in 2 games.
Trent Murphy DE/LB, Stanford - 10 tackles 2 TFL in 2011; 4 tackles and 2 sacks in 2012.
Shayne Skov ILB, Stanford - 24 tackles, 1 TFL in 3 years.
Additionally, non-combine invitee Morgan Breslin DE/LB, USC - 5 tackles, 2 TFL and 1 sack in 2012.
One thing these players all have in common: by either repeatedly seeing them as a divisional foe or facing them in a bowl game, Kelly and his staff had a lot of time to game plan for them, and they still showed up big. Ertz, Logan, Barkley and Poyer all fit that bill too: three were PAC-10 players and Logan and LSU faced Oregon to open the 2011 season.
Solid, But Unspectacular
Davante Adams WR, Fresno State - 12 catches for 92 yards in 2012.
Isaiah Burse WR, Fresno State - 7 catches for 77 yards and a TD in 2012.
Brandin Cooks WR, Oregon State - 5 catches for 56 yards and a TD in 2011; 5 catches 74 yards in 2012.
Ed Reynolds S, Stanford - Season high 6 tackles vs Oregon in 2012, but also had a pass interference on 3rd down.
Rashaad Reynolds CB, Oregon State - 19 tackles in 2 games, 0 INTs, 1 pass defensed. Maybe he was good at running down WRs.
Bishop Sankey RB, Washington - 25 rushes for 104 yards and 2 TDs in a 2012 blowout, though one TD came before the game was out of hand.
James Stone C, Zac Fulton G and Ja'Wuan James T, Tennessee - The Vols got out to an early 13-3 lead before a lightning storm stopped play in their 2010 game against the Ducks. When play resumed, Oregon dominated, but RB Tauren Poole had 162 yards and a TD (which came before the break) on 23 carries, and this trio were the right side of his offensive line.
Jordan Zumwalt ILB, UCLA - 8 tackles in 2011. He also has three kick returns, a punt return and a catch. More versatility!
Everyone Gets A Star
Notable players who did nothing special for one reason or another.
Anthony Barr OLB, UCLA - Did not face Kelly as a LB, he was a RB until 2012 and UCLA didn’t face Oregon in 2012.
Derek Carr QB, Fresno State - 29 of 47 for 234 yards, 1 TD 0 INT in 2012.
Ka’Deem Carey RB, Arizona - A total of 33 rushes for 127 yards with 4 catches for 37 yards in 2011 and 2012.
Everybody from Auburn - None of the players at the combine from Auburn played against Chip in the BCS National Championship Game.
LSU WRs - Odell Beckham had 2 catches for 10 yards in the 2011 season opener, it was his first game. Jarvis Landry had 1 catch for 3 yards, he had only 4 receptions that year.
Ryan Groy G, Wisconsin - The Badgers had a sub-par game on the ground and gave up 2 sacks and 5 tackles for loss.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE, Washington - 2 catches for 33 yards in 2012.
Xavier Su’a-Filo G, UCLA - UCLA's offensive line got pushed around by Oregon, averaging 3.2 yards per carry on 90 total rushes in 2010 and 2011.
Honorable or dishonorable mentions: Joel Bitonio T/G, Nevada: the Wolfpack got embarrassed 69-20, so it is hard to draw any conclusions from that game but could get Chip's consigliere Jerry Azzinaro's seal of approval or disapproval; Carl Bradford OLB, Arizona State: 6 tackles in 2 games and at 6'1" is undersized anyway; DeAndre Coleman DT, Cal: one of his 17 tackles for loss was against UO and he got pushed around and Cornelius Lucas T, Kansas State: 6'8" behemoth was 2012 All Big-12 and while K-State got toasted in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon, the o-line nearly kept a clean sheet, giving up only one sack.
Chances are, at least one of these players is on the Eagles next year. Whether they be players that fit needs, like Bennie Logan did last year, are a "best player available" pick like Matt Barkley or somewhere in between like Zach Ertz, they have an extra appeal to Chip. So this weekend at the Combine if you are looking for some off the radar players to keep an eye on, a guy like Jared Abbrederis might be one to watch. Or maybe you can take a bathroom break when he is up, because he has already caught Chip's eye.
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