NFL analyst Greg Cosell recently offered the names of four prospects who he feels are excellent fits in Chip Kelly’s system. Cosell is regarded as one of the most hard-working and knowledgeable film analysts in the game, and has an extensive knowledge of NFL systems, players, and prospects.
The first prospect he singled out is Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. At 6’5″, 237, Manuel has a massive frame with long arms and ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.65 seconds at the NFL Combine. He’s an obvious fit in Kelly’s offense. Not only did Kelly recruit him coming out of high school, but since then, Manuel has established himself as the most effective option quarterback in this class.
Manuel doesn’t have the athleticism of Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton, but he’s still a threat to take off and is big enough to absorb hits. As a passer, Manuel has a big arm and is usually accurate. His motions appear deliberate and perhaps a bit uncomfortable or unnatural. While his play is still inconsistent, he is usually decisive in the pocket, making nice reads and looking down the field instead of at the rush. However, he does not have great pocket presence, takes too many sacks, and has a nasty habit of throwing up jump ball prayers when all of his options are covered. If his reads are initially covered, Manuel tends to panic a bit in the pocket, leading to the majority of his mistakes. From an intangibles perspective, he seems to be a well-respected leader and student of the game by all accounts.
Manuel certainly has all the physical tools, but the NFL game could simply be too fast for him. Chip Kelly’s passing game probably will not be as sophisticated as many others around the league, though, which could work in Manuel’s favor. Overall, I consider Manuel to be a second round player who the Eagles should consider with the 35th pick.
Cosell’s second prospect match is Florida tight end Jordan Reed. At 6’2″, 236, Reed is extremely undersized for an inline blocking role, but could flourish as a “Joker” or “move” tight end. Chip Kelly loves to get the ball to players in space, and Reed has rare run-after-catch skills for a tight end. Much like Aaron Hernandez, Florida ran shovel passes and screens for Reed to showcase his athleticism. Reed is built like Hernandez, but is more slippery than fast and is not the route runner that Hernandez is. Reed is a poor blocker in the run game, but especially so in the passing game. He’s best lining up in the slot or slightly off the line of scrimmage. He’s not very sudden as a route runner, but wins with smoothness in the open field. I consider him to be a fourth round prospect, but I would shy away from him in the draft. First of all, he was suspended for the Sugar Bowl due to attitude issues, and the Eagles cannot afford their role players to be finesse divas. Second, the Eagles have already signed a move tight end in James Casey, who is more physical and experienced than Reed. Chip Kelly would have a hard time drafting a third or fourth tight end in the middle rounds of the draft.
The final prospects Cosell mentioned are first round possibilities: tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel. I don’t like that Cosell lumped the two prospects together, because they have different games. He “wouldn’t say that either one is an elite athlete,” but the tape and the Combine prove otherwise. At 6’7″, 306, Eric Fisher ran a 5.05 second 40-yard-dash, and as a converted tight end, he can get down the field quickly to make blocks. Fisher is exactly who I envision when I think of a Chip Kelly offensive lineman. Tall, sleek, athletic, and nasty in the run game. He would be an excellent pick at fourth overall.
Luke Joeckel, on the other hand, is more of a traditional left tackle. He has excellent technique as a pass protector and almost never gets beat. He’s very experienced and is ready to protect a quarterback’s blind side from day one. However, he doesn’t have the same lateral agility as Fisher and will not make the same impact in the running game. At Oregon, Chip Kelly’s offensive tackles raced to the sideline to set the edge on outside zone reads, and Joeckel will have a tougher time than Fisher executing those reach blocks on a consistent basis. While Joeckel will be rock solid in pass protection without being a liability in the run game, I consider Eric Fisher to be the far better fit in the Eagles’ specific offensive scheme. With that being said, I would also welcome Joeckel to Philadelphia with the fourth pick because I am almost certain that he will be a Pro Bowl caliber left tackle very soon.