Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and the team's fifth-round draft pick Taylor Hart spoke to the media Saturday. Here's the full transcripts:
Q. What's your evaluation of Taylor Hart?
CHIP KELLY: A relentless football player. Obviously, what we're looking for at the defensive end spot, 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.
Q. So will he play in the five technique?
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CHIP KELLY: Yeah, we call him four technique, the two gap guys. He's a defensive end. He's not an interior player.
Q. How much of that past experience with you guys should come into play?
CHIP KELLY: It helps. As I said yesterday, one of the things I did in Josh's [Huff] situation because I was so close to him, I really left that to Bob Bicknell and our personnel guys. You guys evaluate him. I have my opinion of him because I know him so well. And the same thing with Taylor. We let everybody weigh in on him. Billy Davis who was his top guy also. I know coach Azzinaro, and how he felt about him and I felt about him. But let's leave it to some other guys to get their opinions on it. They agreed and we all agreed. I just think for what we do to find those guys and those two gap defensive ends, it's a difficult process. There are a lot more 4-3 one gaps out there, to find those two gap guys out there, there aren't a lot of them out there.
So when we could get our hands on him, we had him rated a lot higher. I know I say that a lot, but that's true for us. We would have taken him in the third. We're fortunate. I think Howie [Roseman] did a great job of how we ordered it today. The other guy would be gone first, so let's take him. He guaranteed me Hart would be there in the fifth and he was right.
Q. How do you feel when you go to four down linemen, can he play or is he mostly a base defense player?
CHIP KELLY: He'll kick inside at nickel. That's what he did for us at Oregon. He played a little on his feet, but he's not going to play on his feet here. He's a down guy. But he does have good pass‑rush skills, yes.
Q. How much of a benefit do you think it is for you as an evaluator with guys you coached against recently?
CHIP KELLY: I think it's a benefit. Because one of the things at least I can call on is instead of some guys went to go see him in practice and then watched tape, as I've seen a ton of these guys in live games. Some of the evaluations. I talked about it last year when we drafted Zach Ertz. We played against him. So I saw Zach every day. I saw how he competed and I saw how he reacted when a call went against him. I saw how he carried himself in the game. You get a better understanding of the total player.
Q. You guys traded Bryce Brown, obviously. Can you talk about that move?
CHIP KELLY: Yeah, I talked to Bryce a little while ago. I'm really happy for him. It's an opportunity to go somewhere. They had been on him for a while. We probably fielded a lot of offers from them in terms of what they wanted, because we knew what they wanted and how much they wanted Bryce. It's just we kind of had a log jam so to speak at running back. You obviously have the best back in the league in LeSean [Mccoy], and you add Darren Sproles who I think — I don't even know the numbers what we gave up, but we'd be picking Darren Sproles right now basically. That was the trade we made because we took them in the fifth. We traded a fifth to get him. Really excited about Chris Polk and how he's come along. Chris is an outstanding special teams player for us. But you go back to the Detroit game and the long run he hit for us in that game. I really think Chris is a hundred percent healthy, and is vying for time there. We really like [Matthew] Tucker. I think he's another guy as we continue to develop was on the practice squad. Got him to the active. Came to camp. He's probably in the best shape of any of the backs right now and is really pushing for it. So we felt like if that can get us something as we go forward, we felt it was a positive move.
Q. Was it a feeling that he could thrive, I guess for him? Perhaps a systems switch would be better for him too?
CHIP KELLY: No, because they run a similar system.
Q. With Bryce, he's so big and fast, but he didn't really play in college. It seemed like a lot of times that was a factor.
CHIP KELLY: Yeah, it's a good point, but I think you can look at it two ways. He doesn't have the wear and tear of a normal back. So there is still a big upside with him. That is always the dilemma. I think we've had offers for him before and that was the whole thing. Are we going to let him go too soon? Where is he in the whole thing? But, you know, it also was difficult because LeSean's only 25. And Chris is young. So there is only one ball. We just felt at this time it was the best deal we were going to get, and to be able to take it — I think they drafted him in the 7th, and you come back with a four a couple years later. It was similar to what they did a couple years ago with A.J. Feeley and they drafted and traded him up a couple rounds higher. We think it was a positive for Bryce and the organization.
Q. Is there a likelihood you could trade another player on the roster?
CHIP KELLY: We listen, but I would say if presented to us I wouldn't think so, not now.
Q. I'm sure there will be a concern that you're drafting two Oregon players and leading toward the familiar as opposed to grabbing other players. How can you address that?
CHIP KELLY: We're taking the best players in our opinion. There are still a lot of Oregon players out there. But they've won a lot of games the last couple years. The kid that Buffalo drafted last year from Oregon is a pretty good player too. We had another kid drafted in the third round. Just there are some top programs out there that will continue to produce talented players. We've drafted a lot of good LSU players. We've drafted Stanford players. We took some guys from different programs and it's Louisville. You look at them. They put three players in the first round. So we're going to take the best players and that's always been how we've looked at it. Just because we have a familiarity, if someone wants to say that's a concern, that's okay. You know when you're going to take them, that's what they're going to do. But I'm not not going to take one because I'm afraid someone's going to say something about them.
Q. As the roster stands now, what is the depth of the defensive line?
CHIP KELLY: I'm confused. What do you mean? Who is there?
Q. In terms of after today.
CHIP KELLY: We've got Bennie [Logan], Fletcher [Cox], Cedric [Thornton], Damion Square, Brandon Bair, [Joe] Kruger, Alejandro Villanueva who we just signed. So you throw Taylor into that mix and I think we had nine. We're at ten now.
Q. You said there was clearly an end. I'm talking about behind Bennie in the middle.
CHIP KELLY: Damion Square would be in the middle. Cedric Thornton can play in the middle. So if we had to play a game tomorrow, yeah, Square's back up would be the back‑up right now. Obviously, the flexibility with Ced when we go to any packages where we kick said inside.
Q. Everybody seems to want you to take like 380‑pound nose tackle. You obviously, your guys have versatility and athleticism. Are you comfortable? Is it fair to say that is the kind of guy you prefer inside?
CHIP KELLY: I'd love to take a 380‑pound nose tackle, but I haven't seen any. I guess that is the thing. If there were a Haloti Ngata‑type player out there, to us, that is the ideal type nose player. But I don't think — I think the one thing I think people can get confused with is just because you're big doesn't mean you can play either. There has to be the ability to separate and get off the blocks and make plays. So that fine line of let's take the big guy and throw him in the middle, you have to be athletic too. That is the one thing when you admire a guy like Haloti Ngata and watch I am had play, it's how well he runs for a big guy. That is why he's at the top of his game right now in terms of what the nose tackles are in the NFL. You're always striving to take those guys. But there were none of them. Where did Haloti go? He was a top 10 pick, I think. When those people come around, I think everybody sees him. We just didn't think there was that type of guy right now out there.
Here's what Taylor Hart had to say:
On whether he had a feeling the Eagles were going to draft him ahead of time:
"You know, they flew me out for a visit so they made me aware that they would want to pick me. I’ve been with [Eagles assistant head coach/defensive line coach Jerry] Azzinaro before and I fit his scheme. I had a little bit of an idea so I was hopeful that they might [draft me]."
On how much of an advantage it is to know coach Azzinaro’s scheme:
"I think it’s a huge advantage going to a team already knowing what the defensive line coach wants. Obviously it’s changed a little bit, but kind of understanding the defense and doing that in college, I think that’s a pretty good advantage to have."
On whether he followed the Eagles this past season:
"Yeah, I watched them quite a bit. Obviously with [Eagles head coach Chip] Kelly and coach Azzinaro and there’s an array of Oregon players/coaches that are still there, too. I watched them and I could recognize the defenses, so it was pretty neat to do that, too."
On what it is about his skill set that works so well in coach Azzinaro’s scheme:
"I think it’s my size. I’m a bigger, longer kind of guy who fits a 3-4 defense and it’s a lot of technique that goes into playing this position and I think that’s a pretty good advantage for me."
On how he describes himself as a player:
"I’m a hard worker. I’m always going to run at the ball and I’m always going to give it my all. I’m just a technician kind of player."
On who called him once he was drafted by the team:
"Chip was first to talk to me and then I talked to coach Azzinaro right after that."
On what coach Kelly said:
"Just that they were going to pick me and we’re putting the family back together."
On what the recruitment process was like for him coming out of high school:
"I wasn’t heavily recruited. I’m from Oregon so I went to a few teams and visited but Oregon was at the top of my list. I’ve seen them throughout my whole life. When I went there and saw all the players and coaches, I just kind of fell in love with Oregon and that’s why I chose [the University of Oregon]."
On whether his medical history was the reason for the Eagles’ visit:
"Yeah, I’ve been 100 percent so far. My foot is all healed and I’m doing well. I guess they wanted to see how that was doing and maybe they wanted to say hello."
On the comfort level of going to a team where there are so many Oregon connections:
"I think it’s going to make it feel like home for me. I’ve never been to the east coast. Obviously I’ve never left Oregon. I think it’s going to make everything comfortable. It’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of stuff that I’m going to have to do here coming up. Having those guys and being around them will be a neat feeling."
On whom he has kept in touch with in Philadelphia:
"I would say [Eagles defensive quality control coach] Michael Clay. He’s on the staff. I played with him. We were part of the same class. I talked to coach Azzinaro every once in awhile. That’s about it."
On his favorite coach Azzinaro story:
"[Laughing] I don’t think I can share any stories. We had four years together and every year is different and every year is good. He’s a great coach and I learned a lot from him. I hope to learn some more."
On the importance of coach Azzinaro scheming things up front on the defensive line and how that relates to the rest of the defense:
"I think he did a great job at Oregon for us and he did a pretty good job in Philly. He did a great job in showing the players what they need to do so the whole defense can work together."
On whether he has spoken to Eagles third-round pick and former Oregon WR Josh Huff:
"I haven’t had a chance yet. No, I haven’t. I will shortly probably."
On whether he is fully healthy right now:
On whether he’ll be able to compete right away without any complications:
"Yeah, I’m ready to go."