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Friday, May 01, 2015

Chip Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL Draft

There are coaches who have won multiple Super Bowls.

There are coaches with better records.

There are coaches who are better copy.

Yet, all 31 of those combined do not draw the attention that Chip Kelly draws by himself.  The big question before the draft was whether Kelly would offer Tampa Bay or Tennessee a deal along the lines of what the Vikings gave the Cowboys for Herschel Walker.  If history is a teacher, the student would avoid giving up a half dozen good draft picks or a combination of very good players and draft picks for a single player.  As it turned out, the mother lode the Cowboys got helped form the core of a team that would go on to win three Super Bowls in four years.  That fact, in and of itself, should have told Chip Kelly not to offer two or three number ones plus three pretty good players for the rights to draft Marcus Mariota.  That fact, in and of itself, should have compelled either Tampa Bay or Tennessee to agree to a package of Sam Bradford, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, this year's #1 and perhaps next year's and perhaps a #3 in either year for either team's #1 pick, under the presumption that those two teams need so much that they could fill their gaps much more quickly with a trade like this. 

But the GMs in Tampa Bay and Tennessee offered to the media that what was offered wasn't enough; Kelly offered that what was requested was too steep.  While many reporters weighed in that Kelly offer specific players, Kelly denies the suggestion.  He could well by lying -- now he has to live with those players and win with them.  Absent saying that, he risks facing a good player and getting that dreaded look that the coach is suffering his presence because he really wanted someone else. 

Now the Eagles and their fans have some certainty, to the point where the Birds should start offering Sam Bradford jerseys on their website.  Bradford, who once was an elite prospect, will go into the season as #1 on the depth chart and possibly ready to play.  If the Eagles draft wisely and land help on the offensive line and in the secondary, they could have an exciting team again.  Whether that team can win more than ten games and make the playoffs or make the playoffs and win at least one post-season game would remain to be seen. 

It was good drama while it lasted, but what was interesting was that the player the Eagles drafted (Nelson Agholor) went to USC, so Chip Kelly saw a lot of him in college (and, in fact, recruited him for Oregon).  What will happen when Kelly is so tenured that he'll not have had the benefit of recruiting the kid for Oregon, having him play at Oregon or having seen him play in the Pac-10?  Then what?

So now, instead of having Mariota mania, Eagles' fans are left wondering with how good their current team can be.  Everyone goes back to work, some will watch rounds two and three tonight (and four through seven on Saturday), listen to Mel Kiper, Jr. wax eloquent on each prospect's strengths and shortcomings -- all of that without his being accountable for how well he did or didn't do year in and year out in terms of predicting success.  The Eagles and the draft picks will say all the right things, but the proof will be in the team's record at the end of the season.  Sure, Chip Kelly and his minions can monitor the players' sleep and their diets, but. well, there won't be much excitement for a while.  The draft presented a bunch of "what-if" scenarios.  Now that Mariota is but a past fantasy, reality beckons.

And it's fraught with change and uncertainty.

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