Chip Kelly and the Eagles welcomed eight players to Philadelphia over this weekend’s NFL Draft, half of which hail from Kelly’s former collegiate conference, the Pac-12. USC’s Matt Barkley, Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer and Utah’s Joe Kruger are now all in Kelly’s ranks, and as he told ESPN, this was all complete coincidence.
“It wasn’t certainly by design,” he said after the draft. “Now, when people look back at the draft and try to analyze it and try to see how it happened — I think it kind of just happened.”
Coincidence or not, Kelly drafted four players that he has seen develop over the past four years, and a couple of which were on teams that handed his Ducks losses over during his tenure. Barkley and Ertz had the most success against Oregon, and that could have played a large part in why Kelly wanted them on his roster in the NFL.
Against Stanford in 2012, tight end Ertz caught 11 balls for 106 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinal’s 17-14 victory over the Ducks in the notoriously hard to play in, Autzen Stadium. For Barkley, he completed 24 of 26 passes for 323 yards, threw four touchdowns and just one interception in USC’s 38-35 thrilling win at Oregon in 2011, ending a 21-game winning streak for Oregon at home, and a 19-game conference winning streak. Over four years Barkley completed 61-percent of his passes against the Ducks and threw 12 touchdowns, despite the fact that the Trojans only beat the Ducks one out of four times under him.
Kelly has spoken highly of Barkley since drafting him, saying that the Eagles had him rated one of the Top 50 players in the draft, and that he always disliked playing against Barkley in college because he knew what the quarterback could do.
Ertz, Poyer and Kruger all seem like logical picks for Kelly on face-value, but many have questioned how Barkley would fit into his scheme, given his penchant for agile, mobile quarterbacks and quick-tempo offenses. Contrary to the belief that Barkley can’t be that type of quarterback, he is very capable of making quick in-game adjustments and has proven pocket-passing abilities, traits that Kelly deeply admires about him.
While Barkley, Ertz, Poyer and Kruger have spent their college careers as conference foes, they will now join forces under a coach that they have seen wreak havoc on their respective teams, a coach that they have seen win and win big. Kelly’s strategic decision to go with talent that he is very familiar with–coupled with that of the other four draft picks–could go a long way for crafting the Philadelphia Eagles into a very competitive team going forward.