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Chip Kelly: Fifth Round

Posted Apr 27, 2013

Opening remarks: "We drafted Earl Wolff out of NC State. (He was) a first-team all-conference player. He was their leading tackler. He's very explosive, can run, can jump, (and is) a tough hard-nosed physical player. Talking to their coaches just before we picked him, they just couldn't say enough good things about him. Ironically enough, our pick that went through, he's actually a son of a  military family. He is a great kid. We had him on the phone, he was excited to be here. Everything the coaches said about him kind of ring true with what we want. He's the type of guy you want in your building and then when you watch the film, an explosive, tough, hard-nosed physical player. When you can add some depth to your secondary, it's always a positive. We had kind of held our breath. He was a guy we had targeted a lot higher. There were about four guys and as we saw them fall off the board, he was the last guy there and we were kind of holding our breath to see if we could get through the pick. We got through the pick and we're excited."
 
On whether there were four safeties or four players they had ranked higher: "We had four overall guys that we were targeting that we had ranked a lot higher and then kind of watched them get picked off one by one. Then we kind of held our breath that Earl would be there. So we kind of sweated it out. We had one guy left with about 10 picks to go, so you're just kind of waiting on your time and we got him."
 
On the fact that general manager Howie Roseman had said this was a strong draft for safeties: "That's kind of the way it is. You can say that, but then all of a sudden there was a run there. You saw Shamarko Thomas went, Phillip Thomas went. You're kind of looking at it and holding your breath. Then there was a run on centers at one point in time, so it's just kind of how it plays itself out. But we're not going to force the issue. We felt that we got the most value we could with our fourth pick, obviously picking up Matt (Barkley) and then the ability to bounce back in the fifth round and get Earl, I think so far so good. We're kind of holding on here. We don't have a pick in the sixth round and then we have three in the seventh round, so we'll see how it plays itself out."
 
On whether he likes positional flexibility from his safeties: "There has to be some versatility, especially for quarterbacks. If they all know which safety is going to be down, then it's real easy to see where the protection side's going to come from because it's always that guy, whether he lines up high or doesn't line up high. I think when you have the ability to play both, be a centerfield player but also play down in the box, that helps and we think Earl can do that."
 
On whether Wolff can play as a centerfielder and in the box equally as well: "I couldn't go (there). Until we get him out there on the field, I couldn't give you the yea or nay."
 
On whether he saw if Wolff could play both safety positions on tape: "Both equally on tape."
 
On whether he thought about moving up in the draft to select Wolff: "No. I think sometimes you get kind of caught in the moment and you're going to panic like ‘We need to get this guy', but then you don't want to mortgage your future. You just kind of sit there and let it unfold and see how it works itself out. But I think besides moving up a couple picks to ensure that we got Matt (Barkley) because there was just so much value getting a kid (in a later round) we thought he was going to be gone way before that, but besides that, we felt like we could hold and we'll see where we all are and we were fortunate enough to get him."
 
On his thoughts on S Nate Allen: "I've really enjoyed having Nate since I've been here. He works extremely hard, has got a skill set. He can run, change direction. Watching film, you know he's a physical player. Obviously, we're not hitting anybody in pads. Now, it's just the learning process of him being able to diagnose plays and make decisions and some of those things. So when we saw him in the three days at minicamp, he seemed like he was around the ball. We're encouraged with Nate right now. I know John Lovett, our secondary coach, and Billy Davis, our defensive coordinator, are excited to work with him because I know Billy had him as a very high pick coming out and was really intrigued with him when we got here. So far, so good. We'll see as we continue to go along but I think he's a guy that we've got to see what we can do and get out of Nate, but I think he's got, obviously, the skill set to be a very good safety in this league."
 
On contacting the former coaching staff at NC State and what that group had to say about Wolff: "They love him. I talked to Dana Bible, who used to coach here. I've known Dana for a long time. He was their offensive coordinator and he just said that (Wolff's) the type of guy that you want to have in your building. The first thing he said, he said, ‘Go get him. Physical. Explosive. Will really hit you. Just the type of guy that will make your team better. He's a real leader. People are going to follow him.'"
 
On whether Wolff was asked to cover tight ends and slot receivers in college: "Not as much the slot receivers just because of their scheme. They're a big zone-blitz operation, but the one thing that really stands out when you see him on film is his physicality. A very, very tough, hardnosed, physical football player and you look at his numbers; he ran a 4.46 (40-yard dash), he's got a vertical of 40 inches. You can see the explosiveness in his numbers and they match up. Led their team in tackles. I think he had 119 tackles this past season. So, he's a real tough, hardnosed kid."
 
On whether he met with Wolff: "Our staff met with him. I did not meet with him personally, but they had interviewed him at the combine and then John Lovett went down in person to work him out in a personal workout."
 
On what he said to QB Nick Foles when the team drafted QB Matt Barkley: "I've talked to everybody. I talked to (TE) Brent Celek when we picked a tight end. We talked to (T) Jason Peters and (G/T Todd) Herremans and those guys; every position that we've taken somebody, I keep our guys informed. I just told them who we picked, what we're doing and moving forward and we look forward to see those guys here on Monday."
 
On whether it was intentional that he picked three players from teams that he had lost to while he was at Oregon: "Was it brought to my attention? No, but I really appreciate you bringing that up now (joking). Did I realize that? No."
 
On whether it was a coincidence that those players were picked from schools he had lost to while at Oregon: "It think a unique coincidence."
 
On whether Oregon played NC State while he was coaching in Eugene: "We did not play NC State and we did not play Oklahoma. But that is interesting. I didn't know that. I know those guys came from great programs, but I wasn't aware of those three gut-wrenching losses. We had a good day going for a while (joking)."
 
On whether he feels he has a diverse set of players at the safety position to choose from: "Yes."
 
On whether he feels the team still needs to address the secondary: "Again, we've done it all day long, (and that) is what we believe is the best available guy at that time when we're picking. Earl is somebody that we, in a talented safety class, that we had kind of targeted, so we were happy to get him. But it's not like we're looking at any position on our team and saying, ‘Hey, we're all set there. Let's not worry about that.' If there's an opportunity to improve us as a group, we're going to do that. So, that's kind of been our mindset through the whole day. I'm pleased with the safeties so far that we had a chance to see with (S) Pat Chung coming in here and (S) Kenny (Phillips) and those guys that we've been running around. Add them to (S) Kurt (Coleman), add them to (S) Nate (Allen). You know you've got (S) Colt Anderson still back there. (CB Eddie) Whitley can play corner, Whitley can play safety. So, we have some depth there but we're still short of making any major decisions in terms of what we're going to do. We haven't had pads on. We haven't done anything from that standpoint and for all those guys, the big factor, especially with your safeties, is where's your special teams help and what type of teams players are those guys because it's such an integral position from a special teams standpoint. All of those guys need to be able to be a four special teams type of group because it's the nature of the position."
 
On how Wolff profiles as a special teams player: "I really haven't watched a ton of that, so I'm not going to go up here and say he's Colt. But I can see just from his skill set, I think he can be a great kick cover, punt guy for you just because of his speed and his physical ability to tackle."
 
On how his speed at the combine translates on film: "You could see it. You can see the explosiveness on tape."
 
On how his first string safeties looked last week at minicamp: "We got so many reps while doing things; I'm not looking at film saying who was in the first group, second group and third group. Again, it's tough to evaluate players in a non-padded practice. They're back out there breaking on the ball. There really has to be (especially with the way the rules are now) a lot of cooperation going on out there. I think the kid would have broke on the ball and made a great play but is pulling out of it, because we can't have any contact. They're probably the toughest position to evaluate when you're looking at some people. All the defensive positions are, because of all the cooperation that has to happen. When you're practicing in just shorts and t-shirts, it's still not the real game. Until they get the pads on and I can kind of see some guys make plays, scrimmage situations and that kind of thing— there's a lot of guys that we've all seen that look good in shorts and t-shirts, but we're not going to play in shorts and t-shirts on Sundays, so until they put the pads on, your full evaluation isn't going to come to life."
 
On whether Wolff is projected as a strong safety or free safety: "Ideally, you'd like to have a right safety and a left safety operation, so that people don't always know where it's coming from. Just like I said earlier, if there's always somebody that's at one safety, it's a little bit easier to diagnose what quarterbacks are coming up to the line of scrimmage, it's easier to know that that guy is going to be downfield at some point in time. In the ideal world, you'd like to have two guys that can do both and can play in the middle of the field and come down in the box. But, you're not also going to force that. If you don't, then you need to scheme it out schematically to make sure that you do. We're ways away from making those decisions in terms of what we have from that standpoint."
 
On whether there was a chance that the Eagles could have gone through the entire draft without selecting anyone in the secondary: "Yeah, that's true. You can't force it and when you do, I think you dilute the talent of your overall roster if you're just saying, ‘Hey, we have to get a guy at this position and we're going to end up drafting a guy that doesn't have a draftable grade, just to fill a position. That's probably not the way you're supposed to go about it—I don't believe that's the way and I don't think our organization thinks that's the way you should approach it. The teams that are the best at it continue to take what's out there. That's the unique thing about it. We can all identify who the great players are, but I'm sure everyone in the nation thought (Indianapolis Colts QB) Andrew Luck was a real talented player, but only one team gets him. It's about what you do when your pick is up and what you do to utilize it. Who's going to be the (Seattle Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson of this year? Everybody had a shot a picking him, but for some reason he fell through the cracks. That's just the way this whole process works. I think once you start to reach because you need the position, that makes it difficult. Again, that's where I think (GM) Howie (Roseman) and those guys did a great job through free agency of identifying that. We plugged a lot of holes. We lost DRC (CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and (CB) Nnamdi (Asomugha) in the offseason, but we felt like with (Bradley) Fletcher and Cary (Williams), we felt like we weren't going to sit her on draft day and say, ‘We have to get a corner.' We feel like we have two guys that have played in the league and have proven they can play in the league, so now we felt pretty good going in looking at our positions, so that we don't have to reach. We are just going to take what's available in accordance with our overall goal of how we can improve this roster."

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