WHY, YES, Chip Kelly said. What he sees during minicamp this week certainly will affect how the Eagles approach next week's NFL draft.
"I think it's invaluable," Kelly said Tuesday after the first workout of the 3-day session granted to first-year coaches. "It's difficult at times to make an evaluation on some guys just watching film, because you don't know what the play call was or you don't know how they were instructed on what they were supposed to do on that play. You're just kind of watching athletic ability and going through it. But when you get to see them on the field for 3 straight days, running around doing things, it gives you a better understanding of what your team is and kind of where they are."
Kelly said the NFL schedules the extra minicamp for new coaches before the draft for that exact purpose - "to give us a better understanding of our team" before making selections.
Before exchanging Andy Reid for Kelly, the Eagles hadn't changed coaches since 1999. We're used to hearing the week before the draft that everything is locked down, set in stone, the Eagles are following a carefully scripted plan that began with free agency and will continue with the draft.
The free-agency part hasn't changed - general manager Howie Roseman said Monday he addressed key needs there, in order to make the draft a "blank slate." But Kelly seemed to indicate Tuesday that the slate might not be all that blank, if something crops up this week he didn't expect.
"It has to," Kelly said, when asked if these 3 days will lead to draft decisions. "Because we can't ask if we can get more practices. I can't go back on Friday and ask commissioner [Roger] Goodell, 'If you give us 2 more days, this would really help us next week.' It's all part of the process. We'll sit down again. Our scouts are out at practice, too . . . we're all getting feedback. As we said since Day 1, it's a real collaborative effort."
Kelly said that with practice film of players lined up in the Eagles' new systems, scouts can better grasp what he is telling them about what he needs.
Information on specifics of those systems remained elusive. Reporters are barred from observing the sessions, a departure from Reid's policy. We'll be able to ask questions of select players Wednesday, and perhaps clear up some of the mystery, but Kelly didn't want to be pinned down on much of anything, most especially on who he sees as his No. 1 quarterback.
Kelly said Michael Vick and Nick Foles pretty much split the first-team reps Tuesday, with Dennis Dixon working in here and there.
"It's even," Kelly said, when asked whether Vick or Foles is atop the QB depth chart. "The depth chart for us is not a big deal . . . The depth chart is more of a seating chart than it is a depth chart."
Kelly said he envisions continuing the QB competition indefinitely.
"It's April 16," Kelly said. "We're not playing until next September. We're going to use the full time available for us to make a full evaluation . . . I think it fosters competition. I think those guys love competition. That's why they're in that position, and they know it."
Kelly said everyone "knows where they stand . . . there's not a lot of gray area. Everybody knows we're all going to get a lot of reps. We want to get film on tape so we can teach."
Kelly said he installed about 15 percent of his offense Tuesday. Though Kelly is known for the frenetic pace of his practices, he indicated he isn't going all that fast this week, as he implements the offense and defense in his first onfield sessions.
Kelly said everyone was present for the voluntary camp, though starting center Jason Kelce (knee) and a couple of reserves, tight end Evan Moore (back) and linebacker Chris McCoy (knee) are not participating. Kelce has said he expects to be OK for training camp.
"Good tempo, good pace, good energy," Kelly said of his first day on the field with his team. "I think the 2 weeks of offseason [conditioning] program we had with our strength coaches kind of prepared those guys a little bit, so that they could get in and get an understanding of what we wanted to get accomplished."
Kelly said he wants to know how well the players are transferring what they've learned in the classroom to the field.
"We know guys are going to make mistakes early in this process," Kelly said. "But are we making things full speed? What kind of energy are they playing with? Are they coachable?"
Kelly said Danny Watkins, the 2011 first-round pick who was benched last season, lined up as the first-team right guard, Todd Herremans as the right tackle. Left tackle Jason Peters, whose Achilles' injuries last year might have helped set the course for the 4-12 disaster that ended Reid's tenure, was full go.
"Jason looked like what I had hope he would look like," Kelly said. "First off, he's a very big human that moves extremely well. But he participated through the full practice . . . It's probably a good sign when you never looked over and said, 'Geez, he doesn't look like he's himself right now.' He was moving around and looked really at home at left tackle."
Overall, Kelly said, "there are some guys that are in really good shape right now, and there are some guys that have to work."
Kelly, like Roseman the day before, spoke of the draft as a collaboration, and wouldn't answer a question about who has final say.
"I think the draft has depth," Kelly said. "There is not an Andrew Luck or RG3 or someone that you say, 'That guy's going to be a 10-year All-Pro, one of the best' . . . I don't see that [Luck] type of guy in this draft at any position, to be honest with you."
Kelly's response might add to speculation that the Eagles would like to trade down from fourth overall, which seems to make sense, given that they are rebuilding and have no more than one selection per round until the seventh.
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