Kelly: '50 percent of 1st-round picks don't make it'

Kelly: '50 percent of 1st-round picks don't make it'
May 9, 2014, 9:00 pm
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Chip Kelly says top draft pick Marcus Smith has, "the intangibles to go with the tangibles." (USA Today Images)

If you’re worried about the Eagles’ first-round pick, if you think they grabbed Marcus Smith too soon, you’re left to deal with your anxiety on your own. Chip Kelly isn’t interested in making you feel better.

On Friday, after the Eagles moved up in the second round to take wide receiver Jordan Matthews, Kelly talked to the media at the NovaCare Complex. After a while, the conversation returned to Smith. Kelly was asked if he was aware of the reaction from some fans and media members who questioned whether the Eagles reached for Smith (see story).

Kelly said Smith has “the intangibles to go with the tangibles,” compared Smith’s 40-yard dash time to first-round pick Khalil Mack, and called Smith a “quality person.” The head coach said everyone should reserve judgment until after Smith actually plays for the Eagles, which was a reasonable request. But Kelly also said something unvarnished that might make Eagles fans a bit nervous.

“You don’t know how it’s going to pan out,” Kelly said. “Just going through the analytics of it, 50 percent of first-round picks don’t make it. That’s through the history of time.”

Go ahead and hyperventilate into the nearest bag. We’ll wait. Because there’s more. When it comes to which rounds certain players should or should not be selected, Kelly essentially said no one really knows.

“When you draft someone in the sixth round and you say ‘hey, we got a steal,’ my first question is, why didn’t you take him in the fifth, then?” Kelly asked rhetorically. “If you’re so smart and you knew what you knew and you knew everything about the draft and you knew the guy was going to be an All-Pro -- the people who brag about ‘we got a sixth-round pick and he became an All-Pro player -- then the first question is, well why didn’t you draft him earlier if you were so smart? A lot of times you don’t know.”

To underscore a point that suddenly made shoelaces and sharp objects dangerous for Eagles fans as a result, Kelly told an anecdote about his first head coaching job in college.

“Our best receiver I ever coached at New Hampshire, we were smart enough to let him walk on at our school,” Kelly said. “It’s the same thing. You offer scholarships to all these guys, you’ve got five-star recruits and everybody is like ‘he’s our guy.’ Then all of a sudden, the first day of practice, you’re like ‘who’s that guy? He’s really good. You did great job letting him be a walk-on.’ I didn’t do anything. You know what I mean? It’s just like when an undrafted free agent comes out of nowhere, where we did a great job going to find him. If we really did a really good job, you would have drafted him.”

Chip Kelly is basically William Goldman. No one knows anything.

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