Eagles head coach Chip Kelly met with the media Thursday night after the team selected Louisville outside lineback/defensive end Marcus Smith with the 26th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Here's the full transcript:
CHIP KELLY: We obviously selected Marcus Smith with the 26th pick. Think he's an outstanding athlete. He actually got recruited to Louisville as a quarterback. [Louisville head coach Charlie] Strong had seen him in a football camp, and he went to Louisville. I talked to Charlie the other week about him and he just gave us rave reviews. He's a big kid. He transitioned to the outside linebacker position. I think he has a huge upside. He's a very, very good athlete. He's over 6'3", in the 250, 255 pound range, ran 4.68, He's got speed coming off the edge. We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us. I think a young kid to bring in behind Trent [Cole] and Connor [Barwin] and those guys can teach him the ropes and bring him along and show him what we can do. But I think his ceiling is very, very high. We're excited. He's a tough, hard‑nosed football player. A little bit new to the position. Maybe a similar situation to Lane [Johnson] in terms of you're getting a guy that is a huge upside because he hasn't played the position that long. They played multiple defenses there. He's played with his hand on the ground, he's played standing up. He can drop into coverage, he can rush the quarterback. We're excited about adding him. The fact that we could move back a little bit and pick up another pick because we were short in what we think is a good draft, we felt is a great situation for us.
Q. Was trading down an important priority for you or did it just kind of happen?
CHIP KELLY: It just kind of happened. There were about six guys that we felt if they were there at 22, we would have taken them. I guess unfortunately for us there are other people in the league that liked the same six guys we did. So when we got there, a lot of people called. I think the quarterback situation made the 22 spot, just because one quarterback had gone and people were kind of jockeying around to see if they could get up to get the next pick. So we just felt it was the best thing to do, because we felt we could get him at 26.
Q. Was another trade not a viable option at 26?
CHIP KELLY: No, not really. We always listen. Whenever you're on the clock, you're going to listen. But there was nothing that was of substance that we felt like if we moved down, we may have moved down too far and we weren't going to get him. You've got to play that game. We felt going back four spots, we'd have a shot. I don't know if we could go back any farther.
Q. Was he the best available guy? Was there a tier and you looked at that spot and thought let's get an outside linebacker?
CHIP KELLY: He was the next guy for us and what we felt was we could move back and pick up a pick, but we didn't want to move back too far because we didn't know if he was going to be gone. So you kind of hold your breath when you go from 22 to 26 as the next pick went. Then we were really nervous with someone actually trying to get in front of us when Dee Ford went right after us, because he's another pass rusher. Then obviously it's very, very difficult to find pass rushers. We were afraid there was going to be a run on them. So that's why we set our feet at 26 and didn't think we could move back any farther because we weren't sure we were going to get him.
Q. Those six that you originally targeted, did you think about moving up or were they gone?
CHIP KELLY: Yeah, we thought about it. But there was nothing in terms of what people were asking to move up. It was too rich for us. There were obviously conversations with a lot of teams ahead of us of, 'What would it take to move into your spot?' And a lot of guys were waiting. 'We'll trade back with you if our guys not there.' And you don't get the phone call back because their guy obviously was there. But we had constant dialogue, probably starting at 11, going all the way back to when we picked.
Q. When did Marcus first surface on your radar? Was it in January?
CHIP KELLY: No, he's been there for a while. Our personnel staff does a great job. So we obviously have a great system that those guys have in place, so we were aware of him last year when our guys were out eyeballing the next draft class. So he's a guy that our guys saw in the spring time and followed up, watched him play in person. He actually played a game over here against Temple. So I got a chance to go over there and just see those guys in warm‑ups. They had three players that I think were going to be highly picked. [S Calvin] Pryor, Marcus, [QB] Teddy Bridgewater. So they've done a great job. It's been one of the top programs in the country the last couple of years. And I know their head coach personally. Charlie [Strong] will do a hell of a job at Texas, and he's just a tough, hard‑nosed football coach. So when someone like him gives the stamp of approval, that's something I take very seriously.
Q. When New Orleans moved up ahead of you into 20, did that change what you guys wanted to do?
CHIP KELLY: It was just whoever they were going to take. You watch who is going off the board. So when we got to 22, and we didn't feel any of the offers we made to go up. They were all too rich. I think New Orleans offered a third. We weren't going to move up. For us it would have been two spots, I think. From 22 to 20 for a third. We just didn't feel like we were going to do that. So we think there is depth in this draft. That's why if you could sit tight at 22 and pick up another pick, which we did, we have another one in the third, we'll see what happens in the next couple of days.
Q. Who was rated higher on your board? Brandin Cooks or Smith?
CHIP KELLY: Who was rated higher on your board?
Q. Well, I don't know enough information…
CHIP KELLY: I've never seen you stutter. There were a few guys that went ahead of us that we would have liked to have, but they didn't, so that's how it goes.
Q. Smith has 34-inch arms…
CHIP KELLY: Long levers are strong levers. You know our motto on that. Again, he fits the mold for what we're looking for. I think kind of that ceiling I talked about, because there is such an upside to him. How many guys are that size, 250‑plus pounds, running the 4.6 range, have the long arms. I think we just thought it was a positive, and obviously this league is turning into a throwing league, and you've got to be able to rush the quarterback and we're aware of that. You know, we were excited when we had the opportunity not only to get him but to back up. I think it was a positive for us.
Q. You started Lane Johnson right away even though you said he was raw and you said his best days would be ahead of him. Do you expect Marcus to come in and start?
CHIP KELLY: I can't answer that question. Lane started behind those guys when he first got here, and as he kept practicing, we moved him up. So he'll get every opportunity to show us. With the amount of reps you've seen that we get, he's going to get a ton of reps between now and when we get rolling. So we'll just see how that plays out. There is competition. You don't know about injuries, so you're not sure. The other positive with him is he's already graduated, so he's got no restrictions. He'll be here Monday and jump right into the offseason program with us on Monday.
Q. How big is getting that third-round pick there?
CHIP KELLY: We thought it was big because we wanted Marcus, and we felt if we went back just enough we could still pick up an extra pick. So to us, it's a bonus. At the end of the day, I don't know who that guy is. Last year we got Bennie Logan in the third. So in our mind, can you back up, still get the same guy and have a chance to get a Bennie Logan‑type player because he was a third round pick last year? We felt that was a positive move for us.
Q. Johnny Manziel, the guy that you said broke your heart once?
CHIP KELLY: He broke my heart in college, yeah.
Q. Did you have any conversations about him or because you had Nick Foles, that was not an option?
CHIP KELLY: We're always going to go by our board. I love him, I think he's a dynamic quarterback. I think we have a very, very good quarterback situation, not only with Nick, but you add Mark Sanchez in, Matt Barkley, we think quarterback is a strength for us right now. We felt like the pass rusher who we had rated higher was the guy we were going to take.
Q. Do you guys still kind of feel like there's enough quality wide receivers in the second and third rounds for you guys to get one?
CHIP KELLY: I think there is quality at a lot of positions right now. That is one thing about this draft. Part of the reason the draft has such a high quality is the amount of underclassmen that have entered the draft. It's at an all‑time high. So the influx of talent is bigger than I think people anticipated it being. I don't know the exact number, but the top picks, it looked like it was all juniors flying off the board at that point in time.
Q. You mentioned six were off by 22. Is there a pronounced drop between those six and Smith? If so, that is that why you decided to trade?
CHIP KELLY: Not pronounced. But I think our guys did a great job of judging it, knowing where other people were going to take him. We didn't think it was pronounced in terms of how we looked at it. We would have been set if we were going to take him at 22, but when the opportunity came up and you're fielding offers—we had offers from a lot of people that wanted to move up. But what are they going to give us? A fourth? Obviously, the best offer was what we got. And I know it was a pretty active session in that ten minutes. There were multiple teams calling us to try to get to 22. We're just trying to gauge, all right, if we do it, how far are we going back? And some of them we think were good offers, but we felt like we were going to go back too far.
Q. Marqise Lee, you raved about him in the past. Was that a temptation for you guys?
CHIP KELLY: Yeah, I think Marqise is an outstanding player. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time I get back upstairs he's not there. But I think we spend so much time on ordering it, so that when you get into the situation like where do we go, it's a simple thing. We've had them all rated for a long time and our board is our board. When you get in there you don't turn around and go oh, I kind of like him. Well, we've had since last year to stack the board the right way. If we liked him, that should have been a discussion a while ago. So we were going to follow up. That's what you do rationally. You can't let emotion get into it. I think Marqise is a special kid. I tried to recruit him coming out of high school, and had a tremendous career at USC. But for us, we think Marcus was the right pick.
Q. When you were at Louisville's Pro Day, was Marcus one of the guys?
CHIP KELLY: Yeah, he worked out. When you go to Pro Day, you watch everybody. But he worked out. I thought he did a really good job when we saw him in person. Really impressed with his athleticism.
Q. You didn't go into this thinking you were going to pick up a pass‑rusher in the first round. It just happened he was the guy?
CHIP KELLY: When you're picking 22 as late as we picked, I don't think you can predict what you're going to do. Is there going to be a run on these people? There were a couple picks there that, wow, that surprised us. Because you can't predict, you know. We couldn't predict last year when we were at four how it was going to fall off the board. We were surprised last year when the Dolphins traded ahead of us and took an outside linebacker even though they run a 4-3 defense. We thought for sure when we traded up they were taking Lane a year ago.
So I guess you order your board, take a look at it, and when you get an opportunity to make your selection, it's really staring you in the face in terms of who you're going to go for. So I don't know how it's going to go. And I don't know if anybody had a mock draft, but if anybody predicted this one in terms of where everybody is right now, they're all shaking their heads.
Q. You said that he, being Marcus, has experience at doing a lot of things that OLBs do. Does Louisville play a multiple defense?
CHIP KELLY: Louisville played a multiple defense. They played a 4-3 one year and moved to a 3-4, so he's done both. There is film of him playing defensive end and film of him playing as a standup outside linebacker. It's not a projection like you do sometimes. Hey, let's take this defensive end who may be a little undersized to be an NFL defensive end, but he has the skill set to be an outside linebacker. He's actually played the position.
CHIP KELLY: The other thing I'd like to say just really a shout out to [reporter] Phil Sheridan. I know you guys know he went down. I heard from [Eagles PR Director] Derek [Boyko] today I think he's doing better. But tell Phil we're thinking about him, saying prayers for him, and I hope he gets back here soon.