Senior Bowl might answer some Eagles questions
LES BOWEN, Daily News Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013, 12:46 AM
MOBILE, Ala. - So, if past form holds true, Andy Reid will be on hand watching the Senior Bowl practices that start Monday. As will Joe Banner. And Marty Mornhinweg. And Howie Roseman.
But this time, only Roseman will be working for the Eagles. He will be with new Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Kelly's yet-to-be-announced staff, which people close to the situation confirmed will include Pat Shurmur, apparently as offensive coordinator. Shurmur was Reid's quarterbacks coach with the Eagles before leaving to become offensive coordinator in St. Louis, then head coach in Cleveland.
The Eagles won't confirm much of anything about the new staff - apparently reporters will show up at practice Monday and just try to figure out, as Dr. Seuss once wrote in "The Sneetches," "which one is what one and what one is who."
We know holdover Duce Staley is taking over the running-back coaching, and Staley's mentor, Ted Williams, is moving from the running-backs job he held under Reid back to tight-ends coaching, something Williams, an Eagles assistant since 1995, did under Ray Rhodes.
It's a new world for everybody, as the Eagles begin the first postseason draft prospect evaluation since Banner left during the offseason to become the Browns' president and Reid was dismissed last month, to resurface as the coach of the Chiefs. Oh, and Mornhinweg, Reid's alter ego since 2003, is now the offensive coordinator of the Jets.
It's even a new world for the scouts. As Roseman noted last week, the personnel department's job now is to get Kelly the kinds of players he needs, which might differ greatly from the kinds of players Reid sought. Of course, quite a bit of evaluating already has taken place during the season. Roseman said the scouts figured change could be coming and kept more of an open mind on players whose skill sets might not have fit what Reid's Eagles required.
A scout from another NFL team said Sunday that such a situation is hardly unheard of in the NFL - eight teams, after all, have new coaches this week - and that for the scouts, who are more information gatherers than sorters, such a change isn't the end of the world.
"You watch everybody," the scout said. "You keep lots of different types of players in your head," and if the template for what your organization wants at a certain position changes, you ought to be able to reshuffle your deck, offer up names right away.
Since we aren't sure right now whether the Eagles will switch to a 3-4, like Kelly had at Oregon, or stay with a 4-3, it's hard for reporters to have any idea what the Birds will be looking at Monday, defensively. We know that they'll be taking in the South practice, at Fairhope (Ala.) Stadium, instead of the North, which is working out at the home base of the game, Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.
One thing is apparent from the Senior Bowl rosters: Given that a lot of the top talent skips this step of the evaluation process, and by definition the juniors coming out aren't here, there isn't a great chance we're going to see the Eagles' fourth overall pick in the first round practice or play this week.
Luke Joeckel, the Texas A & M offensive tackle? He's a junior in eligibility, not here. Dee Milliner, the big Alabama corner? Same deal, not one of the five Crimson Tide players who made the trip down to Mobile from Tuscaloosa. Those five also don't include 'Bama guard Chance Warmack. Joeckel's A & M teammate, defensive end Damontre Moore, is an underclassman. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is starring elsewhere, apparently. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is participating only in our imagination. Georgia defensive end/linebacker Jarvis Jones? West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith? Nope.
Of course, the Eagles will be drafting more than one player in April, and there surely are players here whose names they'll call. Roseman likes the crucible of Senior Bowl practice, where good players face off against one another, something that doesn't regularly happen during the college season.
Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker is here, and making history - since he recently graduated, he has been allowed to participate even though he was technically a junior last season. (The same is true of a similar prospect, Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh.) Fluker is maybe a late-first- or second-round projection, right now, which is still really early in the process. But lingering groin and calf injuries might keep Fluker from practicing or playing.
One participant we already know Kelly likes - Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, star of the Ducks' Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State. But running back is a position where Kelly's new team is relatively deep.
Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, from Malvern Prep, is the highest-rated quarterback participating. This is not a highly regarded quarterback group, and right now it's hard to project Nassib as a top-five first-round talent. There has been considerable speculation that he might join his Syracuse coach, Doug Marrone, in Buffalo. The Bills draft eighth.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Chip Kelly's 5-year deal to coach the Eagles is for $32.5 million, which is pretty much what was expected. That doubles his Oregon salary.
On Twitter: @LesBowen
LES BOWEN Daily News Staff Writer email@example.com
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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:11 AM