As we rest in the eye of the storm between free agency and the draft, all eyes are on Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Some fans are optimistic, some are skeptical, but all are excited. With the rudder firmly in his hands, lets take a look at some potential selections Chip could make.
RD1: Byron Jones CB UConn 6’1″ 199lbs
Philadelphia fans have been clamoring for the team to select an elite defensive back for years, and now I think it finally happens. Jones perfectly fits what the Eagles want with a tremendous combination of size, athleticism, scheme fit, and versatility. We all know the other-worldly athleticism, but he has the cover skills to match. He’s an exceptional press-man corner who can match up with NFL receivers, and even played his first two years at UConn as a free safety. Pairing him with Byron Maxwell would not only be an intimidating and talented duo, but would also allow for snappy nicknames. 2 By 2 Ron? Byron Squared? Up to you. A secondary of Maxwell, Jones, Jenkins, and Boykin/Thurmond/Watkins/Wolff could be the start of something real.
RD2: Eli Harold OLB Virginia 6’3″ 247lbs
This year’s draft class is loaded with quality edge rushers at the top of the draft. I think one or two will fall farther than they should, and as a result one could land in the Eagle’s lap. Harold is a very athletic and productive OLB who could contribute immediately as a pass rusher. Behind Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin, the Eagles do not have a ton of quality depth on the outside. With sophomore Marcus Smith shaky at best, I think this is a position the team will look to supplement. Quality young pass rushers do not grow on trees and the LB position is one you want to bolster in a 3-4. I could also see Owa from UCLA here for the same reasons.
RD3: Ali Marpet OG Hobart 6’4″ 307lbs
The Eagles have been linked to Marpet throughout the draft process, and it is because this pick makes a ton of sense. With Herremans gone and Evan Mathis on shaky ground, an interior OL reload is needed. A talented, physical, and athletic offensive line is the engine that makes Chip’s offense go and Marpet could slide right into the RG spot. He tested as the top athlete at his position and could excel in the Eagle’s scheme. This pick would be a slam dunk.
RD4: Chris Conley WR Georgia 6’2″ 213lbs
With the exit of Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles are in need of a talent infusion at WR. Chip Kelly said in a free agency press conference that they were not done at WR and saw this as a good year for that position in the draft. Chris Conley blew up the Combine and showed off legitimate NFL potential. He’s a big bodied receiver with the speed to stretch a defense and rip off big plays, similar to Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant.
RD5.1 Jesse James TE Penn State 6’7″ 261lbs
Local prospect with a badass outlaw name? Sounds good to me. James is a mountain of a man at 6’7″ 261 and had pretty impressive jumping numbers for his size. Fan favorite Brent Celek is not getting any younger and Kelly has shown an affinity for 2TE sets. James could be an extremely intriguing player to groom behind Celek as an inline guy who is a threat in the middle of the field and endzone with massive size to steamroll linebackers and make contested catches.
RD5.2: Deandre Smelter WR Georgia Tech 6’2″ 226lbs
With this kind of depth and talent at WR, I suspect the Eagles could adopt a strategy of drafting multiple big, athletic receivers and just kind of seeing what sticks. Smelter is coming off a torn ACL and never put up big numbers in Georgia Tech’s run heavy attack, which could worry some teams. However his fantastic measurables combined with good hands could make him perfect mid-round flyer.
(No one wants to read about potential 6th and 7th rounders)