Philadelphia Eagles: Predicting the Pick at #20


The NFL Draft is still nearly two weeks away. The Philadelphia Eagles, for the moment, are slated to pick 20th.

To accurately predict a pick that far down in the first round with two weeks to go?


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First, you’ve gotta be roughly correct about the 19 guys that’re gonna go ahead of #20.

And then you’ve gotta get your mind synched-up with the team’s draft-board… and teams aren’t forthcoming in that area.

But rarely do the stars align so well as they seem to be for the Eagles and Connecticut CB/S Byron Jones.

So I’ll make the prediction right here and now: Byron Jones will be an Eagle.

Here’s what makes me so confident:

There’s the purely circumstantial stuff: The stuff that anyone could use to match any prospect to any team:

The Eagles most glaring weakness, by far, is in the secondary. Jones is a cornerback that has also played free safety and could probably start for the Eagles, today, at either of those positions. And, while for a while it looked like Jones was going to fall somewhere in the void between where the Eagles pick at #20 and where they pick again at #52, he has worked his way into not only late, but mid-to-late first round consideration. In other words, he fits the Eagles for both need and value. Always a nice combo in a first round pick.

But the reasons why Byron Jones-to-the-Eagles makes sense go beyond the simple facts of need and value:

While, for many teams around the league, the up-to-thirty pre-draft visits teams are allowed only vaguely correlate with the players that team will eventually draft… the Eagles, however, only picked players that visited the NovaCare complex in 2014 (With the exception of Josh Huff who actually played for Chip Kelly, rendering a visit unnecessary.)

Sep 21, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies cornerback Byron Jones (16) intercepts a pass intended for Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Jehu Chesson (86) in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Byron Jones visited the Eagles last week.

Both Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator, Billy Davis have made it clear that they prefer big, physical corners and long, fluid safeties.

At just over six feet tall and at 200 pounds, Jones has the size to match up with NFL receivers if he stays at corner. And, if his final destination in the NFL is at safety (as I believe it is) he has the perfect hybrid-style that the Eagles love in Malcolm Jenkins and would have loved in Devin McCourty had he elected to leave New England this offseason.

Jones is not simply a defensive back. He’s versatile and talented enough to play at almost any spot in the Eagles secondary.

The Eagles have made a concerted effort, of late, to give special consideration to seniors in the draft. Kelly loves graduates.

“No. 1, I think it shows you the intelligence factor, and No. 2, it shows that they’re committed to establishing goals and following through on their goals. You’re going face some adversity, whether it’s in school or on the football field. You’ve got a bunch of driven guys, and that’s evidence that they are driven. It shows you what we’re looking for here, that combination of mental toughness and that high football intelligence. That’s just another indication for us.”

Jones, of course, is a fifth-year senior.

So much has been made, in the past two offseasons, about the reasons why Chip Kelly cut DeSean Jackson and traded LeSean McCoy away. Experts and sources, players and pundits alike will run you ragged with theories about scheme fits and Kelly’s distaste for star players. They’ll talk about how it came down to money. Or this. Or that.

I’ll say this much with absolute certainty: It has something to do with this: Chip Kelly prefers coaching a particular kind of person. Take a look at these quotes from his profile on

Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Connecticut Huskies defensive back Byron Jones catches a pass in a workout drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

“High-character player with the vision and instincts you want from an NFL cornerback. I’m not sure I like him in man coverage but there is a place for him in our league. Really nice young man who you cheer for.” — NFC North scout

“Extremely smart and instinctive on the field. Shows above-average anticipation of routes. Is able to sniff out rub routes and works to avoid them. Flashes recovery speed downfield and gets head around to find ball and make a play on it. Uses instincts and adequate closing burst to disrupt the catch. Generally reliable tackler. Team captain and leader on the field and in the locker room. Scouts say he’s willing to play hurt and inspires his teammates.” –

I’d go on to describe what a ‘Chip Kelly player’ is… but that pretty much sums it up. Byron Jones is a Chip Kelly player.

Jones has a short history of shoulder problems.

Chip Kelly seems newly infatuated with the idea of adding players whose injuries issues make them available when they otherwise might not.

Both Kelly and his newly hired player personnel chief, Ed Marynowitz attended UCONN’s Pro Day. Along with defensive coordinator Billy Davis. All this while Florida State was holding its much more ballyhooed Pro Day at the same time in a different place. That kind of contingent (Head coach, coordinator, and VP of player personnel) means serious business. The Eagles are enamored of Byron Jones.

All of this is to say: If Byron Jones is on the board when the Eagles pick at #20 (and that if is growing bigger and bigger every day as the draft approaches) he will be a Philadelphia Eagle.

And the Eagles will be getting a player that fits.

An athlete whose spider chart looks, essentially, like a grey decagon:

And a human that can do things no other human can:

Next: Big Draft for the Eagles

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