Marcus Mariota-to-Philly, the NFL Draft rumour that has been simmering for months, seems to be coming to a boil a week before the draft.
While fans have long speculated that Eagles coach Chip Kelly would attempt to trade up for the quarterback he recruited and coached at Oregon, some of the most high-profile NFL insiders are now hopping on board.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter went on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia on Monday and said Kelly trading up for Mariota is now a “possibility” (via Eliot Schorr-Parks of NJ.com):
“Count me in the camp that does consider that an option and a possibility. And I was not in that camp a month ago, but I’ve come over to that side.”
Another NFL writer, CBS’s Jason L Canfora, is even more bullish on the Eagles making a run at Mariota.
He wrote about Kelly’s thinking, “He coached Mariota. He loves Mariota. He’s willing to do whatever he thinks is best for his organisation, conventional wisdom and consequences be damned. He simply doesn’t care. He’s capable of pretty much anything and his peers don’t believe for a minute he’ll watch someone else draft Mariota without a fight. No one will explore more options than Kelly, and if he pulls something huge off, few would be surprised. It would be more surprising if he just uses his picks as presently subscribed.”
John Conzano, a columnist for the Oregonian that covered Kelly in college, says Kelly is going to go all-in:
Covered Chip Kelly long enough to know he gets what he wants. And we all know what he wants in the draft. There’s a visor at the poker table
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) April 22, 2015
“What it will ultimately cost him” is the big sticking point here.
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio wrote a post speculating that a three-team trade might make it possible for the Eagles to move from their current draft position (No. 20) to a position where they can get Mariota (No. 2, most likely). It involves trading quarterback Sam Bradford, who the team acquired from St. Louis in March.
“Unless and until Bradford signs a new contract with the Eagles, he’s vulnerable to be traded again,” Florio writes. “Despite the public proclamations after Bradford arrived that Kelly is the only “chip” in town, rumours persist that Bradford could be a temporary member of the Eagles.”
His idea: “(1) the Browns get Bradford and Philly’s first-round pick in 2016; (2) the Eagles get Mariota; and (3) a team in the top five gets the No. 12, No. 19, and No. 20 pick in 2015.”
Kelly has said that he doesn’t believe in trading a boatload of picks to move up in the draft — something the Washington Redskins did in the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012. While it’s wise to never believe anything Kelly says publicly, there’s reason to think he’s being honest here. All the numbers say trading multiple high draft picks for a top-five selection is irrational. The NFL’s smartest teams all trade down in the draft, not up.
Kelly is considered one of the most forward-thinking coaches in the league. It’s simply hard to see him going against the analytics and going all-in on Mariota in a straight swap of draft picks. Just look at what Washington had to give up to get RGIII:
That’s why Florio’s three-team trade theory makes sense. It’s the only way Kelly can get from No. 20 to No. 2 without giving up multiple future first-round picks. But would a team really give up a first-rounder for Sam Bradford that the Eagles could use in a Mariota trade?
It still feels like a long shot, but it’s interesting that Schefter, LaCanfora, and Florio all think there’s something worth talking about.
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