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He’s only a few months removed from coaching at the University of Oregon, and Chip Kelly admits that, yeah, he was tempted to draft a bunch of his own guys.
Dion Jordan? Wanted him.
Kiko Alonso? Wanted him.
Kyle Long? Wanted him.
Maybe it should be reassuring to Eagles fans that Kelly didn’t pick Alonso or Long and didn’t move up a spot and take Jordan.
Because it shows that as close as Kelly is to his former guys, he wasn’t going to stray from the Eagles’ draft board just to stock up on Oregon Ducks.
As difficult as that was.
Remember how Rich Kotite brought in a ton of old Jets when he became head coach of the Eagles?
He let his emotions and friendships get in the way of building a team.
Kelly wasn’t going to let it happen. No Rich Miano, Ken O’Brien, Gerald Nichols or Pat Ryan for him.
“I think [you can’t let yourself] start get emotional and get involved,” Kelly said. “And I was pretty conscious of that.”
The Eagles loved Jordan, and if Eric Fisher, Luke Joekel and Lane Johnson had been the first three picks in the draft, Kelly and GM Howie Roseman would have been thrilled to draft Jordan.
But moving up a spot for him?
It was tempting. But it wouldn’t have been smart.
“What do you have to do to move up?” Kelly asked. “And then when you do it, if you move up to get him, that means you don’t get Bennie Logan because you don’t have a third-round pick or you don’t get Matt Barkley because you don’t have a fourth-round pick.
“It’s the accumulation of putting the whole team together. What are you willing to sacrifice to get one player? A lot of times you look at what people did when they jumped, and people do it. The Redskins did it to get [Robert Griffin III], but they gave up a lot to get him. The Falcons did it a couple years ago to jump up to get Julio Jones, but usually there’s a pretty good price tag.
“I think everybody else out there realized how good those guys are, but just really the value to get them … we wanted to accumulate and I think we stuck to our guns.”
Five Oregon players were drafted this year, none by the Eagles.
The Dolphins moved up to No. 3 to draft Jordan, the Bears took Long with the 20th pick, the Bills selected Alonso in the second round with the 46th pick overall, the Panthers drafted running back Kenjon Barner in the sixth round, and the Colts picked safety John Boyett 10 picks later, also in the sixth.
How bad did Kelly want Jordan?
“Trust me … we were considering [him] very heavily but didn’t get the chance to pull the trigger on that one,” Kelly said. ‘Kiko Alonso was a guy I would have loved to -- I coached him and I think he’s an outstanding football player. I know the [Buffalo] Bills got a great one in him. Kenjon Barner is the same exact way. We didn’t draft a running back.
“You just look, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that guy is a really good football player.’ Kyle Long is an outstanding football player. … But it’s where we went in the draft.
“Dion was gone before we made our first pick, Kyle was gone before we made our second pick and Kiko was gone [before the Eagles made their third pick].
“It just kind of fell that way. It’s unfortunate, but if they were there and we had a pick, I’d have some pretty good insight on those guys. It’s just kind of how it falls.”
Roseman said he was impressed with how Kelly handled Jordan, Alonso, Long and the other guys.
You have to remember Kelly has spent virtually every day for the last four years with these guys. It can’t be easy watching them go to other teams, other coaches.
“On all his players, it was amazing about how objective he was trying to be,” Roseman said. “But for him, it’s like his kids, and that’s how we feel about the players we bring into this building.”
You wonder what happens to the relationship between coach and player when the coach bypasses the player in the draft.
Such as Ryan Nassib and his former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who passed over Nassib and drafted E.J. Manuel.
Kelly said not only were there no hard feelings between him and his guys, he was in touch with all of them as soon as they got picked by other teams.
“Yeah, I was in touch with all of them,” he said. “Got a text from Kenjon and talked to Kyle. Same thing with Dion. Great guys, and I have a special place in my heart for those guys and that’s what made it difficult for me to make the decision to come here was because of guys like that.
“But I’m really proud of them, and I know they’re going to be really good players in this league. We’ll face off against them, but that’s just kind of the way this whole process works. You can’t draft everybody you want.”