The Eagles made four selections on the final day of the NFL draft, all for Bill Davis's defense. In all, five of their seven selections were defensive players. Wideout was the only offensive position addressed.
"That's just kinda how it fell," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after the Birds' final selection in the seven-round draft, 224th overall. They took 6-3, 325-pound Wisconsin nose tackle Beau Allen.
Saturday began with the Eagles making Florida corner-safety Jaylen Watkins the first player taken in the fourth round, and continued with the selection of Oregon defensive tackle Taylor Hart and Stanford safety Ed Reynolds in the fifth. The Eagles did not have a sixth-round selection.
Kelly said he did not feel this was a strong draft for running backs, tight ends or quarterbacks, so the later rounds tilted more to defense, after the Birds got wideouts Jordan Matthews (second round) and Josh Huff (third).
It was a good draft for offensive linemen, but the Eagles didn't end up drafting any. Kelly guessed they would add three or four as undrafted free agents.
Giving Davis so many badly needed reinforcements was merely serendipity, Kelly said.
"We felt like it was going to (be a defensive draft), not by our design, but just because of how this draft class kind of shaped up in our minds, I think there were more defensive players in it than offensive players. That's just how we saw it -- I don't know how anybody else saw it."
It might have been a mild surprise that the Eagles didn't shore up their inside linebacking corps, with DeMeco Ryans turning 30 this summer. Kelly said that draft group really dropped off after Alabama's C.J. Mosley, who went 17th overall, five spots before the Birds could have drafted him.
"We had C.J. rated really, really high," Kelly said. It's assumed that Mosley was one of the six players the Eagles tried to trade up to take, and failing that, hoped might slide through to 22.
Kelly resisted a push to evaluate what he and general manager Howie Roseman had just done.
"Honestly, I have no idea" if it was a good draft, Kelly said. "No one does."
He said he feels the same way about colleges trumpeting their recruiting classes.
"It's an inexact science," he said. "We feel comfortable with the direction we're going and the guys we've brought in here, but I'm not a prediction guy, nor can I say. I don't think anybody can."
Kelly on Watkins: "One of the things that led us to this pick is his versatility, because he has played both corner and safety). Extremely high football intelligence, Billy Davis was at his pro day, spent a lot of time with him there. We had him in here for an interview. He's played safety, he's played corner. He's played nickel. I think he obviously has the speed to play corner ... Could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence. So just thought that versatility, the football character, football intelligence part of it, the character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially today. He was one of those guys looking at it that we were really excited about last night when we left, that if we don't get a great offer (to trade the pick), we're going to stay there and take Jaylen."
Kelly on Hart: "A relentless football player. Obviously, what we're looking for at the defensive end spot (6-6, 287), that length. He's played, I don't know how many games he started for us, but a million starts for us when we were at Oregon. Continued to play at a high level after we left. Has a great understanding of what we're doing. He's a true 3-4 defensive end two‑gapper, and that's what we're looking for. Great, quality young man, a special kid we recruited. A local kid. Went to Tualitin High School, a local Oregon kid that went to the state university and gave everything he had when he was here, and I know he's going to do the same thing for us. Him and coach [Jerry Azzinaro] have a great relationship, so I think that's another positive with him coming in here, and his ability to not only understand what we do, but I guarantee he's going to be a step above some guys in terms of his knowledge of what we're doing already."
Kelly on Reynolds: "Son of former Patriot linebacker Ed Reynolds. Big, physical, 6'1", 207, extremely intelligent. He’s another high football IQ guy. Will do a good job in terms of what we're looking for in the safety and quarterback of the defense back there, getting us lined up and putting us in the right positions. Could have gone back for another year at Stanford and chose to come out. I think he probably would have been picked a little higher if he went back for another year, because he had an injury and missed a year, I think. He played as a freshman and then missed a year. Really happy to get him. Enjoyed him. He was a kid we brought on a top-30 visit. Got a chance to see him, sit down and talk football. I know our defensive coach is really happy with him."
Kelly on Allen, who he said the Eagles worried about losing as they sat out the sixth round: "He's a true nose tackle. You limit yourself, I think it's gotta be 3-4 teams ... I think he fits -- he was taught in the same style that we teach. He's got good understanding of the 3-4 defense."