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Familiarity Helped Land McKelvin

Posted Mar 8, 2016

On Tuesday evening, cornerback Leodis McKelvin stood at the NovaCare Complex podium as a grateful man – grateful for his first eight seasons with the Buffalo Bills, and grateful for the opportunity to start the next chapter of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The former 11th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, McKelvin changed teams for the first time on Tuesday, and his previous experience with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had a lot to do with it. Under Schwartz’s tutelage in 2014, McKelvin started nine games and set a career high with four interceptions.

“Familiarity with the defense,” McKelvin responded when asked why he chose Philadelphia. “It’s very simple. It’s not too complex like a 3-4 defense or something like that. It’s a 4-3 defense and (Schwartz) gets the (defensive ends) out wide and just rushes the ends and keeps it contained and gets to the quarterback with the front four guys. Pretty much his game plan is to use the talents of those guys and just let them go to work.”

Speaking of “those guys,” McKelvin spoke about how excited he is to play with some of the other talented players in the Eagles' defense, taking time to spotlight each position group along the defense.

“I feel good about the defensive line that we have here,” McKelvin said. “We have some great guys on the defensive line. We have some young, talented linebackers that can run from sideline to sideline. That was another key point. We have some guys in the secondary ... a Pro Bowl guy like Malcolm Jenkins. It will be great to play with these guys and just learn from these guys.”

The question of exactly where McKelvin will fit into the Eagles’ defense won’t be answered any time soon, but fans will get a much clearer picture once the team takes the field for Organized Team Activities. The good news is that McKelvin has experience playing both inside and outside and he’s confident that the coaches will find the right fit for him in the Eagles’ secondary.

“I expect to come in and contribute and compete,” McKelvin said. “I expect to come in and help this team the best way I can and just try to get more wins.

“I can play anywhere. I see myself playing anywhere that this coaching staff wants me to play. I’m looking forward to coming in and doing that.”

Even further good news is that the veteran McKelvin knows a thing or two about switching schemes from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and vice versa. In Buffalo, the Bills switched to a 4-3 under Schwartz in 2014, but went back to a 3-4 the following season after Rex Ryan was named head coach.

McKelvin knows what it takes to change schemes and he believes the change will be nothing but beneficial for this Eagles group.

“With the defensive line, you have some good defensive linemen, so those guys are going to get after the quarterback and make some havoc with the run game,” McKelvin said. “The 4-3 will help this defense out. It will be a better fit with the 4-3 and Jim Schwartz is going to come in give us the recipe of becoming a great defense.”

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