PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly won 46 games in four highly successful seasons at the University of Oregon.
After selecting two Oregon players in the NFL draft -- wide receiver Josh Huff with the No. 86 overall pick (third round) and defensive end Taylor Hart in the fifth round -- the total number of Ducks now on the Eagles’ roster stands at eight. That list includes defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi, who was added as an undrafted free agent.
Huff and Hart became the first two Oregon players selected in the draft since Kelly took over with the Eagles.
Eight former Oregon players does raise an interesting question.
“We're taking the best players in our opinion,” Kelly said when asked about the Oregon-Eagles connection. “There are still a lot of Oregon players out there. But they've won a lot of games the last couple years. The kid that Buffalo drafted last year from Oregon [linebacker Kiko Alonso] is a pretty good player, too. We had another kid drafted in the third round. Just there are some top programs out there that will continue to produce talented players. We've drafted a lot of good LSU players. We've drafted Stanford players. We took some guys from different programs and it's Louisville. You look at them. They put three players in the first round. So we're going to take the best players, and that's always been how we've looked at it.
“Just because we have a familiarity, if someone wants to say that's a concern, that's OK. You know when you're going to take them, that's what they're going to do. But I'm not not going to take one because I'm afraid someone's going to say something about them.”
For Hart, it was a special feeling to receive a phone call from his former college coach.
“I think it’s going to make it feel like home for me,” Hart said. “I’ve never been to the east coast. Obviously, I’ve never left Oregon. I think it’s going to make everything comfortable. It’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of stuff that I’m going to have to do here coming up. Having those guys and being around them will be a neat feeling.”