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


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

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.

With future tethered to Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson not in complete control of QB

With future tethered to Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson not in complete control of QB

PHOENIX -- During his hour-long media session at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning in Arizona, Doug Pederson was asked a simple question. 

Where is Carson Wentz right now? 

"I don't know where he is right now," Pederson said, surrounded by a pack of both national and local reporters. 

Pederson was joking. The question from a national reporter wasn't about Wentz's location, but rather about where the young quarterback is in terms of development and the head coach had some fun. 

But Pederson's answer seemed fitting. Because of league rules, coaches have to be hands-off with their players until April 17. That has to be difficult for Pederson, whose success is so greatly connected with the progress of his young star quarterback. 

"It's always the head coach and the quarterback, right? At this level?" Pederson said. "So I think that answers it. The ... success of Carson, then we all have success."

That seems to be pretty true. For now, though, Pederson simply doesn't have any control over Wentz, who has worked with private quarterback guru Adam Dedeaux this offseason. 

While Pederson didn't come out and say it on Wednesday, it would be understandable if he wasn't too thrilled about the idea of Wentz's working with a private quarterback guru on mechanics. Coaches normally like to be in control of everything -- in this case, Pederson is completely powerless. 

What changes does he expect to see in Wentz's mechanics upon his return to the NovaCare Complex in April? 

"Probably not much really," he said. "It'll be interesting when we finally get him in here to talk to him and just see how he felt about that. We just can't wait to get our hands on him, too, to begin and continue to work."

Pederson has not spoken to Dedeaux and has "no idea" about what Dedeaux and Wentz have worked on. 

When asked if he specifically told Wentz that he needed help with his mechanics, Pederson said he did not, but said he encourages all his players to develop their talent, "and if they seek out help, then they seek out help." 

Is Pederson concerned that this outside instruction could undo some of the teachings from the Eagles

"I'm not concerned with that at all," Pederson said. "I know Carson. I know his confidence, his makeup. He's got a lot of confidence in Coach (John) DeFilippo and Frank (Reich), so I'm not concerned about that."

Either way, this offseason will be much different than the last for Wentz. This time last year, the quarterback was finished with the combine and his pro day and was eagerly waiting to find out which team would draft him. The Eagles didn't even have the No. 2 pick by this point in the offseason. 

This year, Wentz is not just on the team, but is a starting franchise quarterback and the face of the entire organization. He's the focal point of everything the team now does in an effort to build around him for the future. 

"So now for him, just to be able to exhale, catch his breath and come into this offseason, knowing that he's the starter, not having to guess if he's going to be the starter is big for him," Pederson said. "It's part of his maturity, it's part of his growth at that position. We definitely want to see incremental progress. I mean, it's not going to be an overnight change, obviously. But ... each day we've got to make sure that we're getting him ready to go for Day 1, for opening day. And I know he's excited to get back, all the guys are excited to get back."

The Eagles' offseason program will begin on April 17, the first day allowed for teams with returning head coaches. At that time, Pederson will finally be able to talk to Wentz and discover what he's been up to for three and a half months. 

Until then, the head coach won't know where he is. 

Doug Pederson breaks down Alshon Jeffery, Eagles' other free-agent pickups

Doug Pederson breaks down Alshon Jeffery, Eagles' other free-agent pickups

PHOENIX -- This offseason, the Eagles didn't hand out any long-term contracts to free agents.

Instead, they opted to bring in guys on one-, two- and three-year deals that left them with flexibility going into the future.

During the process of free agency, vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas spoke to reporters.

Wednesday morning at the NFC coaches breakfast at the Biltmore Hotel in Arizona gave head coach Doug Pederson his first chance to talk about his new players, namely wideout Alshon Jeffery.

"He's a big target," Pederson said of Jeffery. "He's a veteran player, wealth of experience, a lot of games, excellent in route running, strong to the ball. For us, he brings some leadership into that room and makes that room better. The experience is obviously a big factor in what we're doing, and he can lead by example. We have young guys, and this will give our young guys an ability to really watch a guy not only practice, but play, and create that competition that we talk about all the time."

Pederson, while talking about Jeffery, admired his size, route-running ability, explosiveness to the ball, his hands and his catch radius. Jeffery is the type of receiver the Eagles and Carson Wentz so desperately lacked in 2016.

While Jeffery has had down years in each of his last two seasons, he was once a top performer in the league and has an elite-type set of skills. His big body and catch radius should help Wentz greatly as the young quarterback enters his second pro season.

Jeffery will clearly be a big security blanket for Wentz in 2017, but Pederson was hesitant to single him out.

"He's a big part of that now," Pederson said when asked if a receiver like Jeffery was needed for Wentz to take the next step in his career. "But all of our guys will take that next step because they're in our system, they understand our offense, they understand how we're teaching it, they understand the whole dynamic of what we're trying to do. That's a big part of this."

In addition to Jeffery, the Eagles added five other players through free agency: WR Torrey Smith, OG Chance Warmack, QB Nick Foles, DE Chris Long and CB Patrick Robinson.

What do each of those players bring to the team?

"Well, Chance Warmack gives us offensive line depth," Pederson said, "and fits into that room and challenge those guys just like any of the other positions. Looking forward to working with him.

"We just signed Chris Long. And again, Patrick Robinson, veteran players that can come in and compete. And again provide depth, provide competition, provide their own leadership from other teams. I think that's important, too -- as players, they're constantly looking at other teams, how this team does that, how this team does that, and I think it's good to have that diversity on their roster. But at the same time, how well do they fit into your scheme, into your system. These guys give us that quality depth you're looking for ...

"Torrey's obviously, outside of the two receivers, those guys definitely again bring that expertise, bring that drive, that determination. The want-to, a lot of the times, leadership that way."

As for Foles, he'll replace Chase Daniel as Wentz's backup in 2017. Pederson previously coached Foles during Foles' rookie season in 2012. 

"I've been in that position as a player. I've been in that backup role," Pederson said. "With a guy like Carson, going into his second year, you want somebody that's played in the National Football League, played some games and has had some experience. He's been with Alex Smith the last year, another veteran player, and it just brings a lot of the same things that I saw in myself when I was a backup. We're just fortunate to have him back and we're excited to get ready during this offseason with Nick and go forward."