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Eagles Draft: 8 Other Ducks Who Chip Kelly Might Pick

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Bias aside, Oregon Ducks players have been evaluated by Chip Kelly up-close in his system. Besides Mariota, what other Ducks might be targets for the Eagles?

Erick Dargan preparing to pounce
Erick Dargan preparing to pounce
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

PROMISE: The text in this article contains no Mariota content.

Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman like to reduce uncertainty about potential draft picks, and Kelly judges players particularly on how they focus and grind on days they aren't playing games.  It stands to reason that ex-Ducks who played under Chip will be good prospects for the Eagles, at least for another year or two.

This cuts both ways, of course.  Chip knows who he doesn't like as well as who he does. Green Bay brought highly athletic TE Colt Lyerla into camp, but he didn't get a whisper of interest from the Eagles. And events since then, on and off the field,  have confirmed Chip's judgment.

Here are my ratings of the various Ducks entering the draft, organized by where I think they might be drafted, with a hat tip to FishDuck.com's detailed series on Duck prospects by Caleb Couturie and Jason Selby.

1st - 2nd Round:

Jake Fisher is the obvious candidate here, a highly athletic offensive lineman who can play a lot of guard this year and is a good prospect at right tackle when Lane Johnson replaces Jason Peters in a few years. He may even challenge Johnson at left. Fisher is strongest in pass protection; the Ducks gave up 12 sacks in two games he was out injured, but only 19 combined in their other 13 games.

Originally seen as a 2nd-3rd round pick, his stock has jumped due to great showings against Florida State, at the combine and at his Pro Day.  His 4.33 in the 20 yard short shuttle was the Combine's third best in the last 10 years. He'll need to bulk up for the NFL though.

Fisher is now considered a solid late first round pick and might even be gone by #20. But he is best as a fit in a zone-blocking scheme generally, and would be perfect for the Eagles.

Arik Armstead has a perfect NFL body, at 6'7", 292 lbs with a frame to grow.  He's athletic and a former basketball player, which Chip likes. NFL.com actually rates him higher than Mariota on their 10 point scale (6.5 vs. 6.2). Zach Berman doesn't think he'll still be on the board at 20.

Someone will take him in the first round, certainly.  I just hope it's not the Eagles, because he is -- in my opinion -- a pro-sized underachiever, very comparable to Dion Jordan.  And we all know how that worked out.

In 13 games last year, Armstead had 2.5 sacks and 4.5 TFL.  At his size, against college talent, that's just not good enough.

3rd - 4th Round:

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a 5'10" CB with outstanding talent and a high football IQ. He's a ball-hawk and a good tackler.  He was a  likely 1-2 round pick until he tore his ACL right before bowl games.  That said, he doesn't fit Chip Kelly's size preference, and his knee is a big question mark.

Has Chip gotten less stubborn on CB size? He defers to his position coaches, and the Eagles have a new DB coach in Cory Undlin this year.  Sticking with the taller Bradley Fletcher was a disaster last year, and Chip has said publicly that Boykin will get a chance at outside corner in this summer's training camp.  That might open the door for other smaller CB prospects such as Ekpre-Olomu and free agent pickup Walter Thurmond (another ex-Duck).

If he falls to the late fourth or lower, Ifo might make sense as a value pick -- a gunner on special teams, and possible replacement for Brandon Boykin, likely gone in a year if he isn't traded. The 3rd round would be a stretch, but Chip admitted valuing Huff and Hart higher than everyone else last year when Howie Roseman still had the final word, so it's not impossible.

Hroniss Grasu is a true center of exceptional skill, perhaps the second best center in this draft.  He's very athletic and has great character.  Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated lists him (and Troy Hill) on his 2015 NFL Draft All-Underrated Team. At 6'3" 298, he's undersized for the NFL though, and he hasn't shown any ability to play multiple OL positions (not that he's been asked to).  He'll go too high -- maybe even 2nd round -- for the Eagles to draft him as Jason Kelce's backup.

5th - 6th Round:

Erick Dargan is a very intelligent strong safety who reads defenses well, covers the field side-to-side and led the PAC-12 with 7 interceptions last year -- third in the nation. NFL.com calls him a "shenanigan-buster" who "sees reverses and misdirection plays and puts an end to them." Couturie and Selby at FishDuck consider him "one of the most underrated safeties in the entire country."

He was snubbed for the combine and ran a poor 4.74 40 at his pro day.  At 5'10", 210 lbs he'll be drafted late if at all.  If the price is low enough, he could be good value for Chip as a ST ace and depth safety. He was suspended for the last two games of 2013 for unnamed "team rules violations." Chip will ask his successor at Oregon, Mark Helfrich, what that was about. If it wasn't serious, I'd consider Dargan a good prospect to be in the Eagles' training camp this summer.

UDFAs:

Troy Hill improved dramatically at CB opposite Ifo this year.  He's aggressive and plays with attitude.  Hill had 8 tackles against Florida State and was third in the nation in passes defensed (19) despite only 1 interception. Like Byron Maxwell, he got more than his share of targets because he played opposite a star CB.

He's small though (5'10, 175, and 29 1/2" arms -- shortest of all the DB prospects this year) .  He also has serious character issues -- lots of penalties, and a guilty plea to menacing (for punching a wall and yelling at his girlfriend).  He was also suspended for violating unnamed team rules.  Might be a good gamble for a team like Washington or Dallas that's not worried about culture, but he's a camp body at best for Chip.

Tony Washington at OLB has decent size at 6'4", 247, but he's a poor fit for the Eagles with weak coverage skills and a lack of athleticism (4.99 in the 40, 9'2" broad jump). With more weight, he might make an NFL roster by converting to a 4-3 DE, but it won't be the Eagles'.  Camp body at best.

Derrick Malone was solid at ILB for the Ducks, but he's just too small (6'2, 220) and inconsistent for the next level.  Could be a camp body -- he was a leader in the DeMeco Ryans vein for Oregon's defense.