Chip Kelly took the league by storm in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, as his high octane offense ended up translating to the NFL just fine. Philly finished the season strong with a 10-6 mark, winning the NFC East and narrowly losing a first round playoff game.
The key for Kelly was to use his own system, but also make key adjustments on the fly. He also was somewhat rescued by Michael Vick getting hurt, as it allowed Nick Foles to blossom into a potential franchise passer. The Iggles’ biggest change this offseason was the release of explosive receiver DeSean Jackson, but Kelly and co. clearly feel they can win without him.
With that said, they still need to replace D-Jax’s deep ball ability on the outside, while they have numerous needs on the defensive side, as well. Let’s take a closer look at their top needs as we get closer to the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: WR, OL
Kelly’s offense puts speedy playmakers in the limelight, but the real heroes of his scheme are the smaller, mobile offensive linemen. Without Avant and Jackson, wideout is the louder need, but I have a feeling that if Chip Kelly has a significant enough influence on the personnel side (I’d hope he does, considering the unique system he employs), the Eagles have their offensive linemen picked out and will make more of a point to get them than they will any specific receiver.
That’s not to say that they’ll draft a lineman before a receiver, since the linemen Kelly covets are more of a market efficiency than wideouts. I expect the Eagles to go after defense in the first round, receiver in the second or third, and offensive line somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds.
With that said, all the buzz we keep hearing points to wide receiver for the Iggles. If they indeed decide to go that route with the 22nd overall pick, the most obvious choices appear to be Odell Beckam, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee. There has also been talk about them trading up specifically to land Beckham or Benjamin, while they could also just wait until round two and grab Penn State’s Allen Robinson.
Defensive needs: S, OLB, CB
If a Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor falls to the Packers, and they pass on him, the Eagles will almost surely pick them. That’s unlikely to happen, however, and the Eagles could be turning their focus to an outside linebacker, or possibly even cornerback. At corner, Justin Gilbert or Kyle Fuller could be available. At linebacker, Anthony Barr or Ryan Shazier would be interesting additions.
If the Eagles don’t go after a safety in round one, they’ll cross their fingers rising product Jimmie Ward is still around in the second stanza. The same could go for outside linebacker, as there are a litany of second tier 3-4 pass rushers they would be fine with. Guys like Jeremiah Attaochu or Trent Murphy could be high on their board.
Picking 22nd is a tough spot to be in, as the Eagles will likely see players they covet fall off the board right in front of them. If they really want an impact safety, they’ll likely have to trade up to get him. As an organization that is trying to build a roster to fit a relatively new system, it will be interesting to see if they prefer quantity of picks or quality of picks.