“I don’t think about what I think as much as you think about what I think” – Chip Kelly to NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
It has been a wild few months in Philadelphia. Half the players covered in February’s Dynasty Capsule are no longer on the team. After all of the speculation and wild rumors, they didn’t get Marcus Mariota. Did they ask about the number two pick? Sure. However, moving up from 20 to two may have taken a small fortune. This team has taken huge steps over the past two years to build strength in depth and they weren’t going to set themselves back for one player.
Earlier this off-season, the team wisely decided to move on from Nick Foles, but will Sam Bradford really be the answer? The decisions made before and during the draft certainly suggest he is no stop-gap, and that they think he can finally fulfil his number one overall pick potential. With that in mind, the Eagles emphasised drafting the ‘BPAFU’ in this draft (Best player available for us) and it resulted in one weapon, and some defensive competition.
Let’s examine the picks.
Nelson Agholor, WR USC (Round 1, Pick 20)
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Agholor had an amazingly steady ADP increase throughout the pre-draft process. He was at 20 in early March, followed by 17, 14 and then 12 in the final update in late April. His selection by the Eagles has catapulted him into the top half of the first round, with a post-draft ADP of sixth overall. When Kelly got hold of the young man who quipped “it’s all about trying to score” at the NFL Combine, he must have been licking his chops. He has installed a similar game plan in Philadelphia.
The USC standout adds an element of speed and dynamism that was lacking from the Eagles wideout group. We don’t know yet how the offense will spread the ball around or who Bradford’s favorite target will be, but along with last year’s second and third round selections (Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff), the young group should improve together. To acquire him, you will have to pay up, and as our Eric Breeze said in the DLF Draft Blog: “I HATE this pick. Not because it’s a bad pick, but because now my #4 rookie WR is going to cost that.” I think he’s a great player in a great fit. Invest where you can.
Eric Rowe, DB Utah (Round 2, Pick 47)
Rowe was a player the Eagles highly coveted, and they moved up to get him in the second round. (‘Highly coveted’ may be an understatement):
Eagles showed a TON of interest in Eric Rowe. Pre-draft visit, talked to him at Senior Bowl, private workout, Chip attended Utah pro day.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) May 2, 2015
One thing the defensive staff has stressed under Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis is versatility. Rowe played free safety for three years, before switching to cornerback for his final season. He is ‘long’, allowing him to get physical with larger receivers, but also possesses great speed (4.45 40 yard dash). Tommy Lawlor broke him down at Iggles Blitz along with the Eagles third round selection, Jordan Hicks. He is expected to battle for a starting cornerback role opposite free agent signee Byron Maxwell, but doesn’t have much IDP value at this point and does not appear in our rookie IDP rankings.
Jordan Hicks, ILB Texas (Round 3, Pick 84)
A lot of Eagles fans may have reacted in a similar way to Jimmy Kempski (of Philly Voice) when this pick was announced:
So now the Eagles have Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans, Brad Jones, Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho and Jordan Hicks at ILB. Oh, and Mychal Kendricks. — Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) May 2, 2015
The team traded for Kiko Alonso, have another former defensive Rookie of the Year in DeMeco Ryans, and also carry young stud Mychal Kendricks on the roster. So why was Hicks the pick? Firstly, depth in the NFL is nothing to scoff at. It is hard to build a roster where a team is strong at multiple positions, but that is something the Eagles are trying to do by aiming for competition at every spot. Secondly, Ryans is coming off a season-ending knee injury, Alonso was only acquirable because he missed the whole season last year and Kendricks also missed four games in 2014 due to injury. Third, Kelly is now filling his roster with ‘his guys’ and the team sees Hicks as an eventual every-down starter; regardless of who is there right now. On your dynasty team, he shouldn’t have much impact this year but is worth stashing. He is the 22nd-ranked rookie (11th-ranked linebacker) in our rookie IDP rankings.
JaCorey Shepherd, CB Kansas (Round 6, Pick 191), Randall Evans, CB Kansas State (Round 6, Pick 196) and Brian Mihalik, DE Boston College (Round 7, Pick 20)
The two sixth round cornerbacks will battle for playing time in the secondary and on special teams. All three will attempt to bring some physicality (Mihalik is 6’9” and Shepherd stated “you can’t run if you can’t move, so if I get my hands on him; he can’t go nowhere” at a rookie camp press conference), but have no dynasty value.
Rasheed Bailey, WR Delaware Valley, Devante Davis, WR UNLV and John Harris, WR Texas (UDFAs)
How many wide receivers will the Eagles keep this year? Will Riley Cooper make the cut? These three guys will be battling it out for a roster spot. Davis has fans in Matt Waldman and Roto Underworld’s Matt Kelley. Harris may have some untapped potential. Bailey played his college ball in NCAA Division III and is a long shot. It will be interesting to see if any of them break through, but they are only worth speculative adds in very deep leagues.
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Saying it was a wise move to move on from Nick Foles is a bit premature, no? And replace him with a guy who has torn an ACL twice, mind you. I love Kelly and what he has done with my favorite team, but just so it’s understood, Chip won games with Foles. Vick was 2-4 as a starter, Sanchez was 4-4, his pick of Barkley was a disaster, and Foles was, well, 14-4. His four losses? Dallas in 2013 where Foles left in the 3rd quarter down a TD. Barkley comes in and throw three quick picks, games over. Minnesota in 2013 where Foles threw for over 400 yards but defense gave up over 40 points. And both losses in 2014 (Cardinals, 49ers came down to last play of the game. You can dislike him, but you have zero idea whether it was a wise move yet or not and whether Chip can make this ultimately work.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for picking out that line! I actually had an internal debate on whether or not to include the word ‘wisely’ because it jumps that line of subjectivity. Absolutely agree that we won’t know if it is wise or not until we see what happens moving forward, but I think it was the right move to let go of someone that I don’t think can be special. Often teams get into a cycle of holding on to a guy that is ‘good enough’ but can’t take them over the top, and I hate it. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
Foles has been the best quarterback Chip has had, but certainly not the best he could have if he keeps looking for someone better. It’s not necessarily the moving on to Bradford that I think is the wise part (as I mentioned in the piece, we don’t know if he can be who they want him to be), but more the not settling for anything but the best part. The team won games with Foles, but I think they can win even more with someone who can run the offense more efficiently.
Anyway, that part of it is completely my opinion, and I understand yours 🙂 Again, thank you for reading!