Although the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly didn’t address their needs along the offensive line during the 2015 NFL Draft, they did rush to sign a couple of intriguing undrafted free agents at the position, as well as others. It was tough to see the team not draft a single offensive linemen, considering many thought that was one of the team’s top needs heading into the event.
But Kelly and his staff felt the value wasn’t there when they were on the clock and fell victim to an unfortunate run of offensive linemen in the fourth round, which is why they traded out of that slot and received a 2016 third round pick in return.
As you can see above, the Eagles were slated to pick in that 14th spot in the fourth round, 113th overall, but that run of three consecutive players they likely had their eyes on really hurt. I personally was hoping the team would go after T.J. Clemmings, who they spent a good amount of time with at his pro day, but that didn’t happen. So they had to turn to signing four undrafted free agent offensive linemen, Brett Boyko, Cole Manhart, Mike Coccia and Malcolm Bunche.
To be completely honest, Boyko was the only player I was aware of before the Eagles signed them. But after doing research and digging a bit deeper on each of these prospects, it’s clear that they fit what Kelly is trying to do up-front. They are all above average athletes with impressive size, especially Boyko and Bunche. Both of them spent time starting at left tackle in 2014 and have the typical size and length teams look for at tackle.
But it seems as though they will not be spending time at tackle with the Eagles, as they are both already listed as guards on the Eagles official roster. That’s especially worth noting because Boyko was a full time left tackle at UNLV, and at 6’7″, 301 lbs., he’s a bit on the big side for a traditional NFL guard. But he’s an outstanding athlete, which may not appear so due to his disappointing times at his pro day, that was a result of an elbow injury he suffered toward the end of the season.
Bunche has impressive size at 6’6″, 320 lbs. and spent time at guard at UCLA in 2014 after starting the season off at left tackle. Offensive tackles, especially on the left side, are supposed to have outstanding footwork and technique. Which is also something Kelly requires of his guards as well with how often he has them pulling and blocking at the second level. It’s clear that he wants athletes along the offensive line and he certainly signed two promising ones in Boyko and Bunche.
The other two undrafted offensive linemen the team signed, Manhart and Coccia are intriguing small school guys as well. The Eagles must be especially intriguiged by Manhart because they actually gave him a reasonable sized signing bonus and guaranteed a portion of his contract as well, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
Wilson also tweeted that the Eagles signed Boyko to a similar deal as well, so they are definitely two names to keep an eye out for along the offensive line during training camp, especially for that starting spot at right guard. Manhart, like Boyko and Bunche, was a tackle in college and will be moved to the inside at the next level. But he was asked a ton to pull and block on the move and did a very good job of doing so. He also has impressive size, like the others at 6’6″, 310 lbs.
Coccia was strictly brought in because he went to Kelly’s alma mater, New Hampshire. But in all seriousness, Coccia was a four-year starter at center and fits the zone blocking scheme that the Eagles use. He’ll bring in much needed competition at the center spot since David Molk and Julian Vandervelde aren’t exactly sure things at the position either.
All in all, it’s tough to get excited about the Eagles situation along the offensive line since they failed to draft anyone during the actual event. But Kelly has went the unconventional route by signing a few big, athletic former tackles and will try to convert them to guard in his system. Will it work? Only time will tell, but it will definitely be fun to watch.
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