PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly expanded a bit on comments he made to Sports Illustrated's Peter King over the weekend. The Philadelphia Eagles' coach raised some eyebrows by saying the "hype" surrounding the NFL draft "is insane. Totally insane."
"(King) just asked me if there was one thing about the NFL that surprised me," Kelly said Monday, "and I just told him the hype, in general, with the draft. I think the draft is integral, obviously, in terms of putting together your team. But literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft ... that's all everybody talks about.
"I felt the same way in college. You devote everything to the signing day. Well, how many guys from the signing day are actually going to contribute? You may have one or two rookies who have an impact on your team. The rest of them, it's just having them develop. The fact that people would watch the combine -- there's times at the combine where I fall asleep. They're running 40-yard dashes."
Kelly is more concerned with how all of this affects the players coming into the league.
"You guys are in the newspaper business," Kelly said. "If someone is a rookie coming into the newspaper thing, I don't think you're all applauding and saying, 'Oh, my God, the savior is here! Our paper is saved because we just signed a kid out of Northwestern that has really good prose.' In football, it seems to be the biggest thing in the world. And if a guy isn't an all-pro in his first year, but he was drafted in the first five picks, then he's a bust. And I don't think that's the case."
That perspective is interesting when you watch how Kelly approaches his rookies. Last year, first-round pick Lane Johnson was a starter from the very beginning. But defensive tackle Bennie Logan was eased into the starting lineup, eventually replacing veteran Isaac Sopoaga. Tight end Zach Ertz and safety Earl Wolff were brought along slowly.
This year? Same thing. First-round pick Marcus Smith opened camp as the third-team left outside linebacker. Smith runs with the second team at times, but there is clearly no pressure from Kelly's staff on the rookie. Second-round pick Jordan Matthews, who made two flashy catches Monday, is still behind veteran slot receiver Brad Smith on the depth chart.
It doesn't matter to Kelly what the expectations from the outside are. And once players are here, they are judged on merit, not on where they were drafted.