One of the first things Chip Kelly proclaimed when he became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was that “big people beat up little people.” It was an interesting statement and one that he has certainly backed up with his personnel decisions.
Kelly values size all over the field. This was a huge reason why the wide receiver position was totally re-configured. Out is the speedy, diminutive DeSean Jackson, and in are guys like Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews. These are huge targets who can run and most importantly play tough and block downfield. Kelly craves tough, bring your lunch pail to work football players.
A lack of effort or toughness even from his top players will not be tolerated. Size is most important to Kelly on the defensive side of the ball. He wants outside linebackers with long “levers.” Length, explosiveness, and athleticism are a prerequisite.
This is why a pick like Marcus Smith makes so much sense. Smith is 6 foot 3 with long arms and great athletic ability, and he was ultra productive in college to boot. It’s also why a guy like Brandon Graham doesn’t fit in with the long-term plans on defense. Graham is a short-armed defensive end whose lack of athleticism and coverage ability in the flat were glaringly obvious last year.
I would expect this to be Graham’s and potentially veteran Trent Cole‘s last season with the club. Kelly is slowly but surely building a team that fits his short and long-term vision.
The offense is already a sight to behold. The defense still has a ways to go, but I believe with one more real solid draft the Eagles’ defense has a chance to become a special unit. Kelly is doing things his way. So far, so good.