Published May 03, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - Chip Kelly seems to be collecting quarterbacks but the apple of his eye isn't in Philadelphia, at least not yet.
When using a traditional NFL mindset it seems less than likely that Kelly has the ammunition to get up from No. 20 overall to reunite with quarterback Marcus Mariota, who Kelly recruited to the University of Oregon. Until Sam Bradford signs an extension in Philadelphia, however, the idea of a reunion between the Ducks' Heisman Trophy winner and Kelly remains in play with some pushing a convoluted three-way trade with Cleveland as an option because the Browns have expressed a prior interest in Bradford.
What's known is that Kelly gushes over Mariota like a teenage girl with a crush even though his entire offensive system is supposedly "quarterback proof," a philosophy completely reliant on spacing, tempo and keeping the defense from substituting so you can spread the field to run the football.
Meanwhile, the Eagles head coach and now de facto general manager after winning a power play against ex-personnel chief Howie Roseman has been playing fantasy football for real this offseason turning his team inside out with a series of roster moves that are about as predictable as Rob Ford on his favorite hallucinogen.
Tennessee's pick at No. 2 overall remains the lynchpin of the 2015 draft and the likely landing spot for Mariota because there is little doubt that the Titans want out of this slot and Ken Whisenhunt has no real interest in the Oregon product.
The question becomes whether anyone has the intent of trading up and overdrafting a solid but far from spectacular quarterback prospect. The most likely candidates remain Washington, the Jets and Chicago, simply because those are teams that don't have to move that far.
Cleveland, Philadelphia, and to a lesser extent New Orleans and San Diego, remain the wild cards and no one is more wild than Kelly, who comes across unhinged, at least in a football sense, and is capable of shock and awe even if makes no sense and mortgages his organization's future.
"Marcus is a really good player," Eagles vice president of player personnel Ed Marynowitz said. "He's been a very productive college football player. We've done our evaluation work on him, obviously. I'm not going to get into the specifics of where we have him or exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are. But he's a player we're aware of. We've gone through the process."
So, is it likely?
"Philosophically, we are opposed to 'mortgaging the future' was Chip's term," Marynowitz said. "Really the way we look at it is draft picks -- every draft pick you have is an opportunity to improve your football team. So the more opportunities we have to improve our team, we're excited about that. So I'd rather have more picks than less picks. I think Chip shares the same philosophy."
Until it's over, though, don't give up on Kelly putting the organization's future in peril to get Mariota but understand it remains unlikely because Philly would have to climb over many other suitors.
"I think you never say never," Marynowitz admitted. "But philosophically, we have eight picks and we'd like to pick eight players or more, not less."
If forced to go a more conventional route the Eagles still need plenty of help in their defensive backfield as well as at wide receiver after waiving goodbye to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in back-to-back years.
Despite overpaying ex- Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell in free agency, Philadelphia remains very high on UConn corner Byron Jones, a physical freak who has been moving north on most draft boards after strong workouts at the combine and his pro day.
2014 Record: 10-6
Top Needs: S, WR, CB, QB, OL
First Three Picks: No. 20, No. 52, No. 83
Number of Selections: 8 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7)
RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2014 - Marcus Smith (LB, Louisville); 2013 - Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma); 2012 - Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State); 2011 - Danny Watkins (G, Baylor); 2010 - Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan); 2009 - Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri); 2008 - none; 2007 - none; 2006 - Brodrick Bunkley (DT, Florida State); 2005 - Mike Patterson (DT, USC)