Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly’s First Offensive Draft Class to have Immediate Impact
The arrival of Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles brought more than a new offense to a city that was stuck in the drudges of the Andy Reid pass always era. It brought hope. Along with that came the opportunity to build a team around the type of offense he has run so well at the college level for years. The biggest positive of taking over a losing team was the early draft choices and a chance to reload quickly. Kelly and the Eagles took complete advantage of that, although it has not proven itself yet.
After some time, the fourth overall pick, Lane Johnson finally signed and has gotten to work. The Eagles offensive line, which could have been characterized as a joke from last season, was easily the weakest part of a last place team. It has quickly turned itself around and will have no problem covering the hide of whichever quarterback Kelly chooses to put behind center. The holes that once existed in a makeshift line, that found either Michael Vick or Nick Foles shuffling behind it, have been restructured. Johnson not only makes the line younger but better overall creating a bookend with Jason Peters. The first key to Kelly’s offense being successful will be protecting the quarterback, and the first round draft choice was selected perfectly to do the job.
The Eagles continued to improve the offense in the second round, adding Zach Ertz at tight end. Although Brent Celek has been in Philadelphia for six years, he in no way will be a sho0-in to start for the high tempo Kelly offense. Ertz will push the limits, demonstrating an ability to go vertical, as if a wide receiver. His receiving abilities will prove to far exceed those of Celek and be a better fit for the Eagles new spread offense. His impact on the 2013 season will become even more immediate with the injury to Jeremy Maclin, placing more pressure on Kelly to utilize the tight ends and running backs to keep teams honest on DeSean Jackson.
The final piece to the future and may be the surprising and aggressive move that the Eagles made, selecting Matt Barkley in the fourth round. Although most don’t include Barkley as a forefront contender in the quarterback competition, he was chosen by Kelly, which gives him some clout. Don’t be surprised to see Barkley under center by the middle of the season if things begin less than stellar. Though neither his mobility nor arm strength compare with Vick, few do. The decision making ability of the quarterback in Kelly’s offense will be key, and Barkley may prove to be able to unlock the position before season’s end, capping off a strong offensive draft class to begin Kelly’s rein in Philadelphia.