- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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As you are well aware, with less than 30 hours left until the start of the NFL draft, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are working their tails off. Their latest "Hot Button" debate topic is which team is the best fit for quarterback Geno Smith, regardless of draft slot. Mel thinks it's the Philadelphia Eagles. So does Todd, though he offers other options such as Cleveland and Jacksonville. The point, though, is the perception that Smith is a good fit for the kind of offense everyone expects new Eagles coach Chip Kelly to run. Here's Mel:
Smith is a passer first -- his running stats bear that as much as his passing numbers -- a guy with some outstanding skills as a passer but also weaknesses that need to be ironed out. A year on the bench, digesting the nuances of Kelly's offense, is a perfect transition for him. If Smith lands on a team that's set on having him start right away, he could be in trouble. But if he lands in a place where the organization has patience and the coach is content to mold Smith's talents, he could be a good one. Philly could be that place, but that doesn't need to be with the No. 4 pick.
Yeah, I mean, if Smith doesn't go in the first round and he's there for the Eagles at No. 35, that becomes a pretty sweet value pick -- especially given Mel's point that they wouldn't need to start him right away. E.J. Manuel is also hanging around as an option that seems to fit the Kelly profile if Smith isn't there by 35, and Kelly's set on taking that type of quarterback.
My only word of caution on all of this is, once again, that we shouldn't all be assuming we know what Kelly's offense is going to look like and what kind of quarterback he'll seek to run it. I think the point of the Eagles hiring Kelly was not that they liked the system he ran but that they viewed him as an intelligent, nimble football mind who can think up a variety of ways to win with a variety of different players. If I'm wrong, and Kelly's just another college coach trying to shoehorn his types of players into his types of schemes, then I predict his tenure will be a short one. But if I'm right, it's a mistake to assume the only quarterbacks in this draft who make sense for the Eagles are the speedy, super-athletic ones.