Eagles coach Chip Kelly discusses drafting DT Beau Allen and more
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke with reporters on Saturday following the 2014 NFL Draft. Kelly discussed drafting defensive tackle Beau Allen, the team's defense, and more:
Q. Everybody is looking at the so‑called big D‑tackle in the middle. If you look at a guy like Beau Allen, were you surprised a guy with that kind of size was still on the board?
COACH KELLY: We were kind of holding our breath after we made our last pick, because it was such a long time until the next one. But it really depends. He's a true nose tackle, so now you limit yourself to 3-4 teams taking Bo, but I think he fits. He's in the same style that we teach. He's got a good understanding of 3‑4 defense. It was close. There was another young man we really liked from Canada, could have gone like two picks before. We were concerned. The kid from Tennessee went just before that, looked like there was a run going on at that point in time. Kind of hold our breath because he was the guy we were targeting and hopefully we could get him and fortunate that we did get him.
Q. This was an all‑defense day. Was that a priority coming in, to add more to the defense?
COACH KELLY: No, it's just kind of how it fell. I don't think it's ‑‑ I don't even know how many running backs were taken overall in the draft. I don't think it's ‑‑ I think it was really strong from a draft standpoint at the wide receiver spot. I don't think it was overly strong at the quarterback spot, I don't think it was overly strong at the running back spot, so it's just kind of that's how our board ‑‑ even when we started on Thursday when you looked at it, there was more defensive guys that we had graded as draftable guys than we had offensive guys, and that's kind of how it fell.
Q. He played in a 4‑3 early in his career, most of his career?
COACH KELLY: Uh‑huh.
Q. How did that transition go for him? Was it a pretty natural thing?
COACH KELLY: It went well. Actually we played against Beau when I was at Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but he transitioned ‑‑ I think his natural position is nose tackle, and I think when Gary Anderson got there and transitioned to that, and I think he really started to shine.
Q. Because you take the best available player and you project down the road, did you see this as a chance to really start to rebuild this defense around what you liked, your model?
COACH KELLY: I don't ‑‑ because the guys we had on defense could have been picked, too, so it's really ‑‑ it's just, somehow it pans itself out. I think the best way I can say it, I know sometimes people go, well, you never really do it. We did it last year with Matt Barkley. That wasn't what we were looking at, but we kept staring at him; here's a guy ranked as a top‑50 player and all of a sudden we get to whatever our pick was, 90 something on the third day and he's still there, so we went with him. So it seemed to fall that way. We felt like probably it was going to, 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 here in Philly. I don't know how anybody else saw it, but that's how we saw it.
Q. How many guys like Matt Barkley in this draft ‑‑
COACH KELLY: That jumped out, there wasn't a situation like that. It was pretty kind of ‑‑ I think it fell similar to how we thought it was going to fall for most of them. There wasn't anything ‑‑ actually kind of looked ‑‑ I thought about it because it happened the year before. I'm looking over at the top 50 going, there's that one guy hanging there, and it didn't happen that way.
Q. Is this a case, too, this draft, of having a lot of needs and you can take a best player and still have a need?
COACH KELLY: I think we had needs at every position, so I think it's always going to be really how we look at it, but obviously I guess if there's a tie, then we're always going to go to the position where we have a spot open, so to speak.
Q. What's your impression of the inside linebacker?
COACH KELLY: I thought it was a big drop after CJ Mosley [was picked]. We had CJ rated really, really high, and then after that we thought it kind of ‑‑ it tailed off after CJ.
Q. Last year you were saying how it's going to take a lot to get all the pieces into place. If you had to put a number on it now, how much closer are you to that?
COACH KELLY: I can't put a number. I think we're always working towards it. I don't know exactly. I know where we started. I know what we ultimately want to be. But I can't put a number ‑‑ I don't know how to quantify it, so I don't know what number to put on it. But we're closer than we were a year ago, I know that.
Q. Last year I remember you said that Bennie Logan and Matt Barkley really blew you away during the interview process. Were there a couple guys this year you would say stood out in that respect?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, Jordan was like that, Ed Reynolds was like that, Jaylen Watkins was like that. Those are a couple that we ended up selecting. There were a few other guys that we didn't get that were kind of like that. I think there was a lot of quality people in this draft. It was an interesting draft from that standpoint. We just kept remarking when you meet a kid, we brought him in, whether we draft him or didn't get him, wow, that kid is a really good kid. I think there were a lot of guys like that.
Q. How do you feel about the draft now that it’s done?
COACH KELLY: Honestly I have no idea because it's literally ‑‑
Q. Nobody leaves their draft and doesn't feel ‑‑
COACH KELLY: I know that, but if they're saying that ‑‑ everybody says that. They do it in college after signing day. We had a great signing day. Everybody after the draft, we got everybody we wanted, we had a great draft. No one knows. Three, four years down the road, we're going to be, hey, that guy turned out to be a good player, there's going to be somebody that surprises everybody, us included, that we're like, I didn't know that guy was going to be that good. It's an inexact science, and if someone thinks they have a formula or a metric that can get you there, I haven't seen it yet, but 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 because I don't know. I don't think anybody can.
Q. What about for your overall vision of the team? How close are you to getting to that in terms of turning your roster over?
COACH KELLY: I don't think we'll ever be there. That's the way I think. We're always trying to get better every single day. That's the constant strive that we're all looking for, so I don't think ‑‑ there's never going to be a day when you just kind of wake up, we've arrived, we've got it. I think if that day comes, you're going to get run over.
It's not like that. I think we're always trying to tweak it and we're always trying to look for a way to do it, and obviously the commodity is as you add people and what type of people are you adding and what type of skills do they have in terms of being able to execute what you want to execute.
Q. Is there a level of competition you guys look for in the players you draft?
COACH KELLY: There is something to it, but it's not a hard and fast rule, so it's not like we say, hey, we're not going to look at a guy from a small school. You know, it's just ‑‑ when you end up selecting, you just kind of look at it and that's the way it is. I know from a standpoint it's easier to evaluate because it's not ‑‑ it's apples to apples, not apples to oranges in terms of who did he play against, how did he fare against this competition, and you can tell you're not projecting a guy that was playing against maybe a lower level of competition and saying how is he going to ‑‑ what's it going to be like when he makes the jump to the National Football League.
I think it's not by design, but I know from an evaluation standpoint it's a lot easier for us to evaluate it that way.
Q. Can you speak to the preparation, the detailed preparation, all the many months ago, coming together through the weekend and how it was executed from the whole group upstairs and how everyone worked together?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I think we've got a pretty good clean process in terms of how it works. I think it's well thought out. It's very structured in terms of when we have to have X done, when we have to have Y done, how we continue to move in the right direction, and then so that when you get to the draft itself, and for some reason because they moved it, it seemed like the draft was forever just in terms of getting ready for it, but when it comes, then it's really a pretty orderly fashion. That's why I was kind of amazed that someone would actually want to write a movie about it, because it's not that dramatic to be honest with you; you know what I mean? You just look at a board and go, okay, what number are we, we pick, okay, that guy is the highest, let's pick him. It's not what I think some people think it is.
Q. What are you like during the three days? Are you bored? There's a lot of sitting around.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, I'm on the move a lot. The good thing is we don't always ‑‑ we kind of get back to the room when we're getting close, but everybody is kind of walking around the hallways up there.
Q. In last year's draft many, you had recruited many of the players you picked. Were there any in this year's draft aside from the two who went to Oregon?
COACH KELLY: I think we recruited Beau. I think Coach [Jerry Azzinaro] talked to him. Jaylen no, Ed no.
Q. Marcus Smith?
COACH KELLY: No. Marcus, no. Marcus was a quarterback coming out of Georgia, no. And Jordan, no.
Q. Is there a theme you could identify, a common thread at all? I know you just pick guys, but do you see something like that ‑‑
COACH KELLY: Well, I mean, there's obviously a lot of ‑‑ we always just talk, there's the tangibles and the intangibles. There's a certain kind of height, weight, speed requirements we have for each individual position. We really don't want to go below that, but we always will make an exception. It's kind of like a guideline more than a rule. It's not a hard and fast, there's absolutely no way. We want to be bigger at the receiver position, but you would be crazy if you looked at Brandin Cooks and said we're not going to take him because he's 5'9". You know what I mean? He's also a rocked‑up 190 some odd pounds and a physical player. But you want to have ‑‑ we have certain height and weight criteria that we're looking for and certain arm lengths we're looking for and hand size we're looking for when it comes to certain positions, and then obviously where is their football intelligence, and then what is that character kind of component in terms of what their work ethic is going to be, can you count on them every day, are they reliable, all those other things, so I don't know if there's ‑‑ there's a lot that kind of goes into it, and then you go, and then you hope that the ones you got you'll figure out a year or two from now if it was a good one or a bad one.
Q. So you would have taken Cooks if he fell to you?
COACH KELLY: I would have taken a lot of guys if they fell to us. Would we have taken him? I don't know, it would have been a legitimate conversation because that kid is going to be a really good football player in this league.
Q. Allejandero Villanueva, your impressions of him and why you decided to sign him and how you think he fits as a defensive end.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, really unique in terms of obviously his whole story but just from a football standpoint, he was an offensive lineman at Army and then his senior year Coach Ellerson moved him out to receiver and he had 35 catches. He’s 6'9" and 277 pounds. He had a background, I think he started as a defensive end and then moved to offensive line, and then they moved him out to receiver. We brought him in to work him out. We were starting to look to him as an offensive lineman; we thought he was a big, tall tackle type but then when you kind of see him running around we thought maybe the best position for him would be defensive end in our system, so that's kind of where we kind of plugged him in. But he was just very athletic. He's got a great vertical jump. He can actually move and bend and a lot of different things, and then when you talk the character component with him, being a captain in the Army Rangers and serving three tours in Afghanistan, I think just being around him was ‑‑ you can just ‑‑ I can't tell you how impressed you are with him as a person. He was a guy that if you're going to take a shot at somebody, then you'd like to have him on your side.
Q. You didn't draft a quarterback. We haven't talked to you since you had Sanchez. Where does Barkley stand in terms of his progress and what do you envision for him?
COACH KELLY: A real healthy competition between Mark and Matt. I think Matt is healthier. He had a real good off‑season in terms of training. We've had the opportunity to be on the field with these guys I think for two weeks now. It's still ‑‑ there's no defense. You're on air, but you can still do some drill work. It's a good time for the quarterbacks and receivers to kind of run and throw together, and I think Matt's throwing better here and there, too. Mark is coming off a shoulder. He's throwing now. We've got to limit him a little bit just because he's still coming back because he had off‑season shoulder surgery. It'll be a real healthy competition between those two.
Q. What will this week look like? I know you have the rookie camp starting Friday, but you mentioned the players are reporting Monday ‑‑
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we'll bring everybody we can ‑‑ now, there's a couple guys from the graduation, school hasn't finished requirements, I think Ed Reynolds will be one that can't get here until the rookie mini‑camp but the other guys are all flying in tomorrow and then they're going to be here with us in the off‑season program in the morning and just kind of showing them how that works. It won't be full speed, and we're kind of revving them up and bringing them up to speed. That will lead us into the weekend when we get our time to just spend time with those guys individually, and then they jump right into the off‑season program fully the following week.
Q. So every day, Monday through Thursday ‑‑
COACH KELLY: Every day Monday through Thursday they'll be a part of that, but the rookies will ‑‑ playbooks, everything, meetings. We're moving and rolling, weight lifting, all this stuff. It'll be the Phase II part of our program. I think we get this week, next week, we'll get two more weeks of that, and when we come back after Memorial Day on May 27th it'll be our first day of OTAs so we can start going against a defense. They'll have two good solid weeks under them before they ever face ‑‑ where they have to actually be in a situation where they're going to make calls or get a play call and actually execute it. Everything before then is on air.
Q. With your reconfigured wide receiver group what do you think they're expected to bring this year as opposed to what you had last year?
COACH KELLY: I'm excited about them. I think you've got two legitimate wide receivers in [Jeremy Maclin] and [Riley Cooper] outside and then you throw the young guys in there to go along and kind of see where they are. A guy that we didn't ‑‑ another guy I think we really need to talk about is Brad Smith. We got Brad so late, how does he actually fit in, in terms of what we're doing. Had a really, really, really good off‑season training and has really showed up here in the first couple of weeks in terms of where he is. Jeff Maehl is a guy we got late in a late trade with Houston before we got here, so he missed the spring with us, he missed most of camp with us, so you had a chance to see him. You also got to see Arrelious Benn, who is back who we didn't a real good chance to see that thought was coming along but then he got injured, too. The new faces with Maclin and Benn and Maehl and Smith, really all starting at the same time and then you had the young guys, and we're kind of excited about what direction we're headed there.
Q. You may not have one of the fastest guys in the league anymore like you did, but do you still feel like what you've got you can challenge ‑‑
COACH KELLY: We've got guys. Mac is a first‑round draft choice, and it was kind of really tough not only on him but on us that we lost him last year. How dynamic could we have been if we had an opportunity to keep him in the mix. But I think one of the by‑products of Mac not being here is obviously Riley got his opportunity to show what he could do and he really had a breakout year last year and we were kind of excited about it. I think with Mac and Riley outside and then throw some of the young guys in there, it'll be interesting in terms of how this whole thing shapes itself out, but I'm excited to see our wideouts play.
Q. The linemen, talk about the depth you have there.
COACH KELLY: Yeah, a couple young guys that really ‑‑ Matt Tobin really came along last year, was an undrafted free agent that really showed up for us. Really excited about his future. Allen Barbre is a guy that when you watch the games when he went in when Jason Peters went down in the Green Bay game, really did an outstanding job at left tackle, which is probably the most difficult position to play.
We really like Julian Vandervelde developed at center. He's done a really, really good job for us. We've added David Molk, who's played in this league at center and he's doing a really good job also and competing there. Dennis Kelly is healthy now and he's competing there. It's year two with Mike Bamiro, who we signed last year who was kind of a ‑‑ I don't like the word project but a young guy that's a big ‑‑ I mean, big, big, big son of a gun that all of a sudden now he's got a year under the system and he's really made a lot of progress himself. We feel good about ‑‑ we're going to bring in probably three to four free agents here to compete with those guys, but it was just one of those deals. There was some guys we liked, and there was a run on them, and all of a sudden we liked this guy and then he's gone, he's gone, he's gone. I think today a lot of the guys we liked jumped off the board.
Q. As far as the free agents, it can get into kind of a bidding war sometimes. I know there's a limit, but what's that process?
COACH KELLY: Everybody has the same pool, so it doesn't matter, it's just how you determine how you want to spend it. I think it's 80,000 and change and then however many guys you want to spend, you can spread it out. You can be a socialist and give the same amount to everybody or you can say one guy is getting 20 and another guy gets 5. I think that's kind of how it becomes. There's never going to be anybody we're going to take and say, one guy is going to get 50 of it and then we're going to take the rest of it because we do have some other positions. We're just looking at getting from where we are right now with the guys we drafted to get to 90. So how many more do we need at this position, how many more do we need at this position and where we'll go, and you try to make it as even as you can, but you may have to go a little bit more from one guy than for another just because another team has done that. There are some times, and I was in there last year, and we'll go up and start that process right now after the seventh round is over, he got X from another team, let him go, because we're not going to give that much.
Q. Is kicker one of those spots you want to add to?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we think we're going to bring another one in. I think we've got a couple targeted. It depends on who gets drafted and who gets signed. I think there's one or two guys that fit. If those guys aren't there we're not bringing someone in right now because we're not just going to take a body for the heck of it.
Q. Was this draft different for you than last year, your first draft?
COACH KELLY: I mean, I understand it just because I've been through it, so you know, last year through the entire season was a whole lot of firsts, the first Thursday night, first Friday night, this is how Saturday works, so you've got a pretty good understanding, just the process of how it's going to go, so it's just a little bit different just because of the experience of last year.
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