Ryan Nassib is among the QB job candidates getting a long look from Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman and new OC Pat Shurmur this week at Senior Bowl practices and interviews. I like Nassib as a potential good fit for Kelly's system. But I'm biased partly because Nassib is a product of Philly-area high school football.
Nassib, the Syracuse prospect, spent an evening talking with Kelly and Roseman according to multiple reports. The 6'3", 230 lb West Chester native is rumored to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board, with some experts projecting he might even go before West Virginia's prospect Geno Smith. Nassib had 3,749 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season with Syracuse. He did not enter last season as one of the top quarterback prospects, but after big games against Northwestern, Lousville and Missouri, his stock is at an all-time high.
The Eagles are also talking with Florida State's E.J. Manuel...
E.J. Manuel finished last season with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go along with 3,392 yards. Manuel is more of a natural athlete than Nassib and is two inches taller as well. Despite being thought of as an athletic quarterback, Manuel had very few big games rushing last year. Still, Manuel's raw physical talent will likely at least pique the interest of Kelly.
Caution--- the Eagles' meeting with Nassib and Manuel means very little when it comes to the probability of their drafting either prospect. The Eagles met with Robert Griffin III last year and by all accounts never seriously tried to move up in the draft to get him. During their time at the Senior Bowl they will meet with plenty of prospects, doing their homework just in case the draft board breaks just the right way.
If the Eagles do decide they want to go with Nassib or Manuel over Nick Foles or Michael Vick, they will have a chance to get both if they want them. With so many holes on defense to fill, the chances of their going quarterback with the fourth overall pick are slim to none, but Nassib will likely be there. Manuel is a quarterback the Eagles could grab as late at the third round.
In addition to Nassib and Manuel, the Eagles also met with Jamar Taylor, a cornerback from Boise State, and Chris Harper, a wide receiver from Kansas State.
As for linebacker candidate Manti Te'o, everyone I know asks me if I think the Eagles will consider him as a prospect. My first reaction is, putting all the "sturm und drang" aside, Te'o was unlikely to ever grade out high enough athletically to be an option for the Eagles with the fourth-overall pick in the first round. If his stock drops as expected though, he may just be there when the Eagles select early in the second round. I think Kelly and Roseman will grade his practices and possibly interview him, too. If Te'o falls far enough, he may be worth a shot. And I believe the soap-opera silliness in Te'o's past will be a non-factor in any team's decision to hire him. It's all about ability and redemption at this level.
And as far as the Eagles QB picture goes, it's too early to write off Nick Foles or even Mike Vick in Kelly's new system. It was assumed that Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles' days with the team were numbered. Kelly usually relied on a mobile quarterback to operate his high-octane scheme at Oregon, and while Foles is athletic, he may be slower than some of the Eagles' offensive linemen.
But upon being introduced as the Eagles' coach Thursday at the NovaCare Complex, Kelly made it clear that the Eagles won't necessarily run the same offense he used at Oregon.
"There is perception and there is reality," Kelly said. "The perception is that the quarterback is running the ball all the time and that's not the reality. The key is understanding your personnel and maximizing it. Asking people to do what they're not capable of doing is a recipe for disaster."
That statement left things wide-open (no pun intended) for Foles.
Kelly said he was very impressed with Foles' competitiveness and toughness, having coached against him when the quarterback was at the University of Arizona.
"In terms of Nick [Foles], I'm a huge fan of his," Kelly said. "He's tough and I think a lot of people don't understand what toughness means to the quarterback spot. We hit him as many times as we could hit him [at Oregon] and he just kept getting up and making plays."
Vick, one of the top running quarterbacks in NFL history, would appear to be better-suited to Kelly's schemes, but he will have to restructure his contract in order to have any hope of staying with the team. Vick is scheduled to make $15.5 million in 2013 as part of the six-year, $100 million contract he signed one year ago. He is due to receive a $3 million roster bonus if he is still with the Eagles on Feb. 6, three days after the Super Bowl.
"Nothing is on the board and nothing is off the board at this point," Kelly said. "I have no preconceived notions about anyone. All I know is that we're going to have an offense that will score points and we'll do whatever it takes to get the ball across the (goal) line. If you can throw the ball and run the ball, I'll take you out there."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"WASH Update---Jim Washburn is back in the NFL with the Lions. After things went astray during the disaster of a 2012 season with the Eagles, the feisty DL coach took the high road when speaking to the Detroit News' Dave Birkett. Washburn, who will work alongside his son as a defensive assistant with the Lions, said the Eagles job " just wasn't a good fit." Washburn was fired midseason by Andy Reid and the reports that followed his departure were not pretty.