“We’re putting the family back together,” Hart said Kelly told him when he called to inform him of the pick.
Indeed they are, and Hart fits the Eagles’ plans on defense perfectly.
At 6-foot-6, 281 yards with 32 5/8-inch arms and 10 1/8-inch hands, he’s supremely versatile and can play all over the front four. He even has experience as a stand-up rusher. Hart is the quintessential chess piece for defensive coordinator Bill Davis and his desire to employ a multiple defense that can mask its intentions and switch alignments from one snap to the next. He’ll play end in the base defense, kick inside in nickel and fits everything the Eagles look for from an on- and off-field standpoint.
“A relentless football player,” Kelly said. “Obviously, what we’re looking for at the defensive end spot, that length. He’s played, I don't know how many games he started for us, but a million starts for us when we were at Oregon. Continued to play at a high level after we left. Has a great understanding of what we’re doing. He’s a true 3-4 defensive end two gapper, and that's what we’re looking for.
"Great quality young man, a special kid we recruited. A local kid. Went to Tualitin High School, a local Oregon kid that went to the state university and gave everything he had when he was here, and I know he’s going to do the same thing for us. Him and coach (Jerry Azzinaro) have a great relationship, so I think that’s another positive with him coming in here, and his ability to not only understand what we do, but I guarantee he’s going to be a step above some guys in terms of his knowledge of what we're doing already.”
Hart assessed himself and described why he appealed to the Eagles.
“I think it’s my size,” Hart said. “I’m a bigger, longer kind of guy who fits a 3-4 defense and it’s a lot of technique that goes into playing this position and I think that’s a pretty good advantage for me. I’m a hard worker. I’m always going to run at the ball and I’m always going to give it my all. I’m just a technician kind of player.”
Kelly was so bullish on making Hart an Eagle that he wanted to get him earlier on in the draft, but general manager Howie Roseman assured his coach to trust him and his feel for how the board would fall.
“So when we could get our hands on (Hart), we had him rated a lot higher,” Kelly said. “I know I say that a lot, but that’s true for us. We would have taken him in the third. We’re fortunate. I think Howie (Roseman) did a great job of how we ordered it today. The other guy would be gone first, so let's take him. He guaranteed me Hart would be there in the fifth and he was right.”
Either way, Kelly got his man, and the Eagles got another piece to add to a young, talented and ascending defensive line.