There is an old adage that has plastered itself upon magnets, coffee mugs, and snow globes alike. “Expect the unexpected,” a wise citizen once said. Time and time again, history has proven that the element of surprise can significantly change the course of events. The National Football League is, in many ways, no different.
Following DeSean Jackson’s dramatic release, the entire NFL has seemingly cracked the code and unlocked the Eagles draft strategy. Executives and reporters alike have fallen victim to Chip Kelly’s perceived obsession with offense and mesurables: the fact of the matter is, the media may be helping the Eagles steal one of the best players in the 2014 NFL Draft.
After Jackson’s release, a slew of draft experts released stories and reports linking the Eagles to the biggest, fastest wide receivers in the NFL Draft. Similarly, reports have surfaced linking the Eagles to players such as Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, and Odell Beckham Jr. “I think a lot of people have been kind of hung up on the speed receiver,” NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah stated in a recent conference call.” Jeremiah spoiled his sensical statement with a completely cliche claim: “I would think adding more size, if you add Kelvin Benjamin, now you’ve got Riley Cooper and then you throw Jeremy Maclin in the mix, now they’re going to be able to move the ball in between the 20s,” Jeremiah shallowly explained.
Adding a player like Kelvin Benjamin would make little sense to an Eagles team that was predicated on two wide receivers last season. In Chip Kelly’s 2013 offense, the top two wide receivers on the depth chart combined for 129 receptions. In perspective, the teams third, fourth, and fifth receivers totalled 46 receptions. Third receiver Jason Avant only recorded 38 catches, a sign that a third target occupying high resources isn’t a priority. Howie Roseman avidly voices his desire with balancing resources in a position. Benjamin implausibly deviates from the Eagles philosophy.
The advantage of the media being naively misleaded is that the Eagles have wiggle room to work under this falsely created perception. Teams will be projecting the Eagles to take a wide receiver, feeling that Chip Kelly won’t be able to resist another weapon. Another circulating perception is that linebacker Anthony Barr will be selected in the top ten. Barr, a player with injury history and lack of polish, likely won’t attract the interest of an NFL team in need of immediate starter. With stocks of players like Calvin Pryor rising, Barr may find himself waiting a few extra minutes to find his new home.
Barr is a player that provides the Eagles with the size and speed they need. At 6 ft 5 in, Barr would add length equal to partner Connor Barwin. With Trent Cole on the decline, Barr will be able to play behind him for a season; after his rookie year, Barr can take over as a starter. His explosive plays will make him a fan favorite, and his game projects to develop similarly to the play of Packer Clay Matthews.
Adding Barr to the defense makes much more sense for the Eagles front office. A weak pass rush will receive a huge boost right under the noses of the entire NFL.