It is hard to imagine that Chip Kelly can improve an offense that ranked first in rushing yards in 2013, but he is still tinkering with his powerhouse. The Eagles averaged 160.4 yards rushing per game in 2013, and the next team with the most rushing yards per game, the Buffalo Bills, averaged 144.2 per game. The dominant performance of LeSean McCoy helped Philadelphia reach a playoff birth in Kelly’s first year, but there is a concern that McCoy could wear down if he is asked to have another season with 314 rushing attempts and 52 receptions.
The Eagles apparently were very high on Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller, but a deal could not be made to bring in the talented running back. To ease the workload of McCoy the organization did bring in the dual-threat Darren Sproles, although the Eagles would have greatly preferred Spiller. The 30-year old Sproles has been used more in the passing attack than the rushing attack throughout his career, however, so a back that can help contribute in the ground game will still be highly valued by Kelly.
There is a good indication that the Eagles could potentially select Mason as early as the third round, as running backs coach Duce Staley was in attendance for Mason’s Pro Day. Even at 5-foot-9, 207 pounds, the young running back finished his final season in college with 1,816 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. It is hard to argue that Kelly wouldn’t be able to find a role in the offense for him, but there are other needs that are more pressing for the Eagles to fill if the team wants to make it to a Super Bowl in 2014.
The fact that there is now a debate on Mason’s health should be a cause for concern for Philadelphia. Ian Rapport reported on Twitter that there was a bone in Mason’s wrist that had not healed properly and would require surgery, but Mason replied to Rapport that the report was false and he did not need any operations. Mason’s reply to Rapport appears to have since been deleted, but the running back has sent out several tweets that he is healthy and that he will not need any surgery.
The final factor that should downgrade the need of drafting a running back is the fact that 22-year old Bryce Brown is still on the roster. Many have questioned how well the running back fits into Kelly’s system, but Brown has shown flashes of dominance that warrant another year on the Eagles’ roster. Having McCoy, Sproles, Brown and Mason on the team would just be overkill. The Eagles defense ranked 32nd against the pass last season, and Philadelphia should focus on drafting defensive playmakers in the early rounds.
It is hard to doubt Kelly’s judgment after he created one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL, but the Eagles need to focus on improving the defense instead of adding another weapon in the backfield.