‘We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us,’ coach Chip Kelly said

By Lewis Gould

The Eagles went into Thursday’s first round of the draft insisting that they were going to take the best player available when they were on the clock, regardless of position. If it happened to match up with a need, fine. If it didn’t, fine too.

“We have to stick to our board,” general manager Howie Roseman said before the draft. “The draft is a long-term decision for us. We don’t know where we’re going to be in 2-3 years.

“We are going to take the best player, and we are not going to force guys up just because we have a particular anxiety about a position, because we look at a particular spot on our depth chart and say we don’t have that.

“Now, I go home at night and think about that all the time. I want to have a 90-man (offseason) roster of guys who are going to make teams. And I want 53 guys who can start. But we’ve got to get past that.

“We’ve got to know that we have to make good long-term decisions. We have to get really good players. And when you look at forcing (a pick because of need), whether it’s our team or other teams in the league, it doesn’t work.”

As luck would have it, the player the Eagles wound up with, Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith, also happened to line up with one of their biggest needs – a pass-rusher.

The Eagles had just 37 sacks last season and finished 31st in sacks per pass play. Linebacker Trent Cole, who led the team in sacks with eight, will be 32 in October.

“We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us,” coach Chip Kelly said. “A young kid to bring in behind Trent and Connor (Barwin). Those guys can teach him the ropes and bring him along.

“His ceiling is very high. He was recruited as a quarterback and is new to the position, kind of like (offensive tackle) Lane (Johnson, the Eagles’ 2013 first-round pick). He’s an outstanding athlete.”

The Eagles selected Smith after trading down from their original spot at 22 to 26 in a swap with the Cleveland Browns, and picking up a third-round pick from the Browns, the 83rd overall selection in the draft. The trade down was important because the Eagles entered the draft with just six selections, their fewest in 11 years.

“He was the next (highest-rated) guy for us,” Kelly said. “We felt we could move back and pick up a pick. We didn’t want to move too far back because we were afraid there was going to be a run on (pass-rushers).”

With the addition of the Browns’ third-round pick, the Eagles will have three selections in Friday’s second and third rounds.

It’s a pretty good bet at least one of those three Day 2 selections will be a wide receiver. After releasing DeSean Jackson in March, the Eagles are thin at the position. They’ve got Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off a torn ACL, Riley Cooper and little else, though tight end Zach Ertz and recent arrival Darren Sproles figure to be major components in their passing game this season.


About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply