FSU's Manuel: Kelly system 'would be easy transition'

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FSU's Manuel: Kelly system 'would be easy transition'

MOBILE, Ala. -- Five years ago, Chip Kelly tried to sell E.J. Manuel on the prospect of spearheading the explosive University of Oregon offense.

Tempting, but one problem. To run the Oregon offense, Manuel would have to attend school in Oregon.

I wanted to, man. But it was far, Manuel, the record-setting quarterback from Florida State, said Wednesday. Im from Virginia, so thats clear across the country and obviously Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was the main person I wanted to play for. But I was really intrigued by coach Kelly. It was a great program, had great uniforms. That was something I liked as well. It was just too far.

Fast forward to 2013.

Kelly is the Eagles newest head coach, headquartered in South Philly and attempting to introduce his innovative college offense -- or some variation of it -- into the NFL. Manuel, one of the six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, is willing to relocate anywhere for the chance to be an NFL quarterback.

This time, Kelly needs no sales pitch. Just a draft pick.

When I first met him I was a high school guy, I didnt really know his offense, Manuel said. Obviously, watching him when I was in college ... very electric. Put a lot of points on the board. Thats the kind of offense people want to see on TV. I think if he brings that to the NFL hell bring life back to Philadelphia. Id love to be a part of it.

Manuel met with Kelly for 15 minutes Monday night as the 50 or so draft prospects involved in the Senior Bowl are funneled into meeting rooms and then ushered from one interview to another -- speed-dating style -- with the coaching staffs and personnel departments of almost every NFL team.

The Eagles have also met with two other quarterbacks -- West Chesters Ryan Nassib, a fast-rising prospect from Syracuse, and Arkansas Tyler Wilson -- and it can be safely assumed that each of the six will have sat down with Kelly and his staff before Saturdays game.

Manuel is perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the six because of his skill set and his potential in the offense Kelly plans to run. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound former Seminole passed for more than 3,000 yards this past season, rushed for more than 300 yards, totaled 27 touchdowns and left with Florida States career accuracy record.

Given the success this year of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, three quarterbacks with great mobility and different draft pedigrees, it stands to reason that changes in the NFL game have helped boost Manuels stock.

Those guys are still throwing the ball vertically down the field at a high level, so you cant just say theyre runners, Manuel said. Theyre throwing the ball great and theyre still running great and thats whats breaking the defenses back out there.

Although the book on Manuel is that his accuracy dips in the face of heavy pressure and that his delivery isnt textbook, those flaws could potentially be masqueraded by an offense designed to capitalize on his ability to take off or just the threat of taking off, which is an advantage Kelly has discussed several times in the past week.

The Seminoles incorporated some of the same read-option concepts that have become trendy in the college ranks and are catching on for some NFL teams with mobile quarterbacks.

Just the fact that I can do the read option as far as reading the defensive end and doing the run off it or still throwing the bubble screen outside or doing the vertical game, Manuel said. I did a lot of that at Florida State. We didnt run the same exact offense as far as the option or the spread but I know I could do it. It would be an easy transition for me.

Manuel said the Noles went no-huddle about 70 percent of the time and preferred to line up without at least 13, 14 seconds left on the play clock, and then that way I could declare my middle linebacker, point out my sight adjustments, things like that.

Its unknown right now if Kelly is sold on the three quarterbacks the Eagles currently have under contract in Mike Vick, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards. Although the buzz around Mobile is that Kelly will lean toward a cleaner slate and seek someone from outside the roster to lead his offense, general manager Howie Roseman cautioned against jumping the gun.

He hasnt had the chance to watch tape, Roseman said. He does have a very good impression of the people on our roster. He has coached against Nick obviously. Everyone has watched Mike. He did coach against Trent, too, at one point when Trent was at Stanford. I think for him, he just wants to get behind closed doors, lock himself in, watch tape, come out and say, Lets have a discussion.

Until then, the Eagles are doing diligence here in Mobile with the crop of quarterbacks, a group of passers that noticeably lacks West Virginias Geno Smith and USCs Matt Barkley, two projected first-rounders who both decided to pass on invitations to play.

Manuel, currently projected as a mid-to-late round pick, seemed to think hes exactly the kind of guy for Kellys scheme and practically lobbied for the position.

I know I can do his offense, Manuel said. I hope he gives me the opportunity to play for him and kind of build the Eagle tradition back up. That would be nice.

Manuel didnt elaborate on what he and Kelly discussed Monday night but called the interview awesome and reflected on the time when Kelly once tried to lure him to across the country.

It was awesome just seeing him again, Manuel added. It wasnt like I had just met him for the first time. I had known him well for five years now. I was happy to see the success he had as a head coach at Oregon and Im sure hell do the same in the NFL.

Manuel also said he sensed that Kelly was fully committed to the Eagles and had put the college game behind.

Hes all ready to go, Manuel added I just hope he gives me an opportunity.

Email Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Islanders RW Kyle Okposo

2016 Flyers free-agent target: Islanders RW Kyle Okposo

Each day until July 1, the day free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
 
Kyle Okposo, right wing
 
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 217
Last team: New York Islanders
2015-16 cap hit: $2.8 million
 
Scouting report
One of the biggest names on the free-agent market, Okposo is a nifty puck-handler with a fearsome shot, making for a richly talented offensive winger.
 
Sounds just like Ron Hextall’s No. 1 offseason need.
 
The 2006 seventh overall pick finished last season with 64 points — which would have been second on the Flyers — by tallying 22 goals and a career-high-tying 42 assists. His last three seasons have gone for 50-plus points, while in 2013-14 he posted a career-best 69.
 
Okposo is a multifaceted scorer, understanding how to produce in a variety of ways, whether it’s using his body or skill. He knows how to play big and small.
 
The righty shot is dangerous on the power play and a bona-fide top-six forward.
 
Many believe he’s just reaching his prime.
 
Projection
The Islanders have essentially said so long to Okposo, so he’s up for grabs.
 
The Flyers have interest but it looks to be a daunting task to snag the 28-year-old.
 
With the extension of Radko Gudas and the need to re-up restricted free agent Brayden Schenn, it simply doesn’t appear monetarily plausible for the Flyers to reel in a top-six forward the ilk of Okposo.
 
Rumblings have it that Okposo could be searching for a long-term deal in the ballpark of $7 million a season. Whether he’s worth as such is one thing. Whether the Flyers could afford it is another.

I’m a believer the Flyers should seek out Okposo, but unless Hextall pulls off an unforeseen trade to surprisingly clear the barn and make room, I don't see it happening.

Phillies call up top minor-league reliever Edubray Ramos; Andrew Bailey to DL

Phillies call up top minor-league reliever Edubray Ramos; Andrew Bailey to DL

The Phillies' best minor-league reliever this season earned himself a promotion to the majors. The Phils on Friday called up right-hander Edubray Ramos and placed Andrew Bailey on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain.

Ramos, 23, had a 1.16 ERA in 38⅔ innings at Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley this season. He struck out 41 and walked just four. He was even better at Triple A than he was at Double A, allowing just one run in 23⅔ innings (0.38 ERA) for the IronPigs.

Ramos has a mid-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball. It will be interesting to see how he fares against major-league competition.

Bailey injured his hamstring on Wednesday covering first base. He stayed in the game to finish a clean inning against the Twins but limped off the field. Bailey has a 4.39 ERA for the Phillies in 26⅔ innings with 28 strikeouts.

Stumpf to rehab
Down in Clearwater, left-handed reliever Daniel Stumpf will begin a rehab assignment on Friday. Stumpf, 25, was suspended 80 games on April 2014 for violating MLB's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. 

The Phillies were nine games into their season then, meaning Stumpf would be eligible to return in Game No. 90. Barring any postponements, the Phillies' 90th game will be their final game before the All-Star break.

Stumpf, a Rule 5 selection by the Phillies from the Royals in December, allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in three early-season appearances.

Phillies-Giants 5 things: Giants aces up next, so tonight's the night to score

Phillies-Giants 5 things: Giants aces up next, so tonight's the night to score

Phillies (31-43) at Giants (47-27)
10:15 p.m. on TCN

The Phillies begin the second series of their nine-game road trip Friday night at beautiful AT&T Park in San Francisco. 

The Phils have at least a little bit of momentum to begin the set as they won their series finale in Minnesota and scored 22 runs in that series.

This will be a completely different challenge, though.

1. Giants among men
It's been Cubs, Cubs, Cubs nationally all season. And yet entering the weekend, the Giants have the same number of wins as Chicago (47-24).

It just never seems to matter which players the Giants lose or which anonymous minor-leaguers are called up to replace them. The Giants have won nine of their last 10 games despite Hunter Pence and Matt Duffy being on the DL and Brandon Belt missing a few games. 

Just look at the Giants' lineup Thursday in their win over the Pirates. Mac Williamson batted third and played right field. Trevor Brown caught and batted fifth. Ramiro Pena played shortstop, Jarrett Parker played left field and Conor Gillaspie played third base. You could argue that all except Brown are 4-A players — i.e. guys who are good enough to hit at Triple A, but not good enough to be productive at the major-league level.

It's amazing how the Giants win despite all the hurdles. Buster Posey's presence obviously helps, but he's not even having his typical MVP-caliber season. Posey is hitting .277/.338/.450, which is solid but well below his career slash line of .308/.372/.481.

San Fran has been led mostly this season by great starting pitching and the emergence of Belt into one of the best hitters in the National League. Belt is hitting .302 this season with a .409 on-base percentage. He has 44 walks to 50 strikeouts, and he's been an extra-base hit machine with 19 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs. 

2. Start No. 3 for Eflin
Zach Eflin is a level-headed 22-year-old, so it's unlikely he's going to look at this assignment and overhype himself. And if he can keep things in perspective and focus on just commanding his sinker low in the strike zone, he could find some success against that previously described patchwork Giants offense.

Eflin pitched well last week in his second start, allowing two runs to the Diamondbacks over 5⅔ innings. It lowered his ERA from 27.01 to 10.80. Tonight he'll look to get that thing under 9.00.

It seems unlikely the Phillies called Eflin up from Triple A only for him to make three starts in place of injured Vince Velasquez. If nothing else drastic happens, it looks like Adam Morgan will be the odd man out when Velasquez returns either Monday in Arizona or later in the week. But if Eflin gets bombed again tonight, who knows.

3. The night to score
The Phillies' best chance to score some runs this weekend is tonight against 35-year-old, now-mediocre right-hander Jake Peavy. Why? Because on Saturday and Sunday the Phils will face Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, who are a combined 19-4 with a 1.96 ERA this season.

Peavy (3-6, 5.47) hasn't been able to retire lefties with any regularity this season. They've hit .331 with a .908 OPS against him, although all eight home runs Peavy's allowed have been by right-handed hitters. It's obviously difficult to hit one out at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.

Peavy had an ERA of 8.21 through his first nine starts this season but has been much better since, giving the Giants four quality starts in his last five tries. Over that span Peavy has a 1.76 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and .189 opponents' batting average. He's allowed just five extra-base hits among 114 batters faced.

Peavy has a diverse repertoire. He's thrown six different pitches this season: four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, sinker, changeup and slider. His main pitches are the four-seamer, cutter and curve.

He likes to throw the cutter to lefties to jam them but it hasn't worked this season. They've hit .404 with a .575 slugging percentage in 47 at-bats ending in that pitch.

The only three Phillies to ever face Peavy are Ryan Howard, Peter Bourjos and Carlos Ruiz. Howard has had some success, going 3 for 9 with two doubles and four RBIs. Bourjos owns a triple off Peavy.

4. Prospect update
Nick Williams remains hot from a power standpoint, Jorge Alfaro is drawing rave reviews with his defense, and a piece of the Ken Giles trade debuted at Double A Reading this week. 

For more on those prospects and a handful of others, check out Friday's Future Phillies Report.

5. This and that
• The 22 runs scored by the Phillies in the Twins series were their most in a three-game span since last Sept. 27-30.

• Howard's multi-hit game Thursday was his first since April 29, a stretch of 37 games.

• Maikel Franco has five walks in his last two games. He walked six times all of April and seven times in May.