The Eagles will have their highest draft position since 1999 next Thursday night when they are slated to pick fourth overall in the annual player selection meeting. Chip Kelly is not putting any extra significance on the fact that it will be his first draft pick as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I want to come out of it with the best players. Hopefully, my goal is that we have a lot more drafts. You could say it's your signature draft if it's your only draft. I plan on being here more than one year," Kelly said on Tuesday. "Our whole goal is can we improve this football team and that's it. I don't look at it like it's a defining moment of what we're doing."
Kelly has a unique perspective compared to other NFL coaches in that he either schemed against or recruited some of the players while at Oregon. While Kelly claimed this year's draft class "has depth," there "is not a can't-miss player."
"There is not an Andrew Luck or (Robert Griffin III) or someone that you say that guy's going to be a 10-year All-Pro, one of the best," Kelly said. "I had the opportunity fortunately or unfortunately to coach against Andrew Luck in our league. So he was as close as there was to a can't-miss guy. I don't see that type of guy in this draft at any position, to be honest with you."
However, one of the players drafted could be a 10-year All-Pro. Kelly explained how "it's easy to go hindsight and say we knew this draft was this" citing how everyone knew Seattle's Russell Wilson would be a quality starting quarterback, but then why did he go in the third round? The same could be said for future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, who was a sixth-round pick.
Kelly has seen the same transition play out at the college level.
"If you look at what are the top five or six players in the draft, they weren't the top five or six high school players five years ago," Kelly said.
In fact, one of the top draft prospects is a former Oregon Duck in defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan, who started his college career on the offensive side of the ball.
"Dion Jordan is one of the top players out there, and we were smart enough at Oregon to recruit him as a wide receiver," Kelly said. "Now he's going to play outside linebacker, defensive end in the NFL. You look at Lane Johnson, who was a high school quarterback and now he's an offensive tackle who is a top pick. The list goes on and on. And Ziggy Ansah was playing basketball and went to BYU to play basketball, and now he may be a Top 10 pick."
Tuesday signaled the start of the three-day pre-draft minicamp which is allotted for teams with new head coaches. Kelly said it is "invaluable" to see his new players in action prior to the start of the NFL Draft.
"It's difficult at times to make an evaluation on some guys just watching film because you don't know what the play call was or you don't know how they were instructed on what they were supposed to do on that play. You're just kind of watching athletic ability and going through it, but when you get to see them on the field for three straight days, running around doing things, it gives you a better understanding of what your team is and kind of where they are.”
A week from Thursday, the Eagles will embark on their first NFL Draft with Kelly as the head coach. As significant as that is, Kelly simply wants it to be an opportunity to obtain talent to further the development of his program. And with nine draft picks, including the fourth-overall selection, the Eagles will be in prime position to do just that.
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