Philadelphia Eagles Mid Season Grades: Resigning Deals

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Jun 17, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) points out positions as the offensive line runs drills during mini camp at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Is Jason Kelce The Center Of Attention?

The beginning of center Jason Kelce’s NFL career was a whisper.   Selected in the sixth round of the 2011 forgettable draft, he was signed under the watchful eye of offensive line coach Howard Mudd.”His size – the conventional scouting fraternity was like he’s a little small, and this, that, and the other stuff,” Mudd said. “And I just watched his film. I didn’t give a [shoot]. I just liked him.”

It wasn’t long before others in the Eagles organization like him too.  Liked him enough to start that sixth rounder over starting center Jamaal Jackson.   If not for Mudd, Kelce’s smaller frame may have never gotten the attention of an NFL team.   If not for Mudd, Jason Kelce might never have become an Eagles.   But history is written.   Jason Kelce became the starting center.

I just watched his film.  I just liked him.  – Howard Mudd

Mudd still likes him, stays in touch with his protege’, and even texts him and the other offensive linemen occasionally.  But as soon as Kelce was signed, the comparisons between himself and Indianapolis Colt Jeff Saturday began.  Not only are they close in measurables, but both are touted as extremely athletic centers, and both were coached by Howard Mudd.

Kelce had been playing for the standard, and inexpensive, contract that is formulated for sixth round draft selections.  But this off-season the Eagles made up for it by extending Kelce a six year $37.5 million deal.   In one instance, Kelce went from the bargain basement to become one of the five highest paid centers of the NFL.   Keep in mind, this is before Kelce has played in a pro-bowl game.

If offensive tackle Jason Peters is the anchor of the offense, then Jason Kelce is their ice-cutter.   He tends to seal off the hole at the line of scrimmage, and then lead down-field to block linebackers and defensive backs to allow for big gains.  In the surprising victory of the Eagles over the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Kelce seemed to be everywhere:  sealing off the nose tackle to break a runner free, to blocking twenty yards down-field in front of elusive running back Darren Sproles.   In fact, Jason Kelce appeared to have mastered an ability to be two places at once.

It was during Kelce’s absence that his true value was evident.  Despite an heroic effort by center David Molk, the running game suffered greatly as there was no Kelce blocking at the second levels.  The offense was forced to emphasize the passing game with a quarterback who was already showing signs of bad mechanics.   Toss in the automatic hike of the ball suddenly happening from a new center, and the situation compounded the moments of bad decisions.

However, Kelce is back and not a moment too soon.   The Eagles are in the thick of a good start to the season, but now face some of the toughest teams on the schedule.   To win, the Eagles will need to re-establish the running game.   And to do that, they will need Kelce blocking down-field.

Philadelphia Eagles Mid Season Grade:  This is another great deal for the Eagles.