By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —There has been no shortage of theories for how the Eagles can somehow get up to the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft to take Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The Heisman Trophy winner is widely regarded as the best signal caller in the draft and has garnered praise from Eagles head coach Chip Kelly who has extensive knowledge of Mariota from Oregon.
While Mariota might be the prototypical leader for a Kelly style offense, whether Kelly will admit that or not, it will be near impossible for the Eagles to put together a package to get him.
If the Eagles do decide to not sell everything but the kitchen sink for Mariota, perhaps there is another Pac-12 quarterback who could get the job done. Could UCLA’s Brett Hundley be the answer for the Birds?
There is still a lot of scouting to be done, but most experts would tell you that if the Eagles stand firm at the 20th pick, they more than likely will not have a chance to select either Mariota or Jameis Winston.
However, Hundley could very well be on the board. CBSSports’ Rob Rang released a mock draft this week and he made a case for Hundley being the Eagles’ man at 20:
“Incumbent starter Nick Foles did a fine job when healthy and Mark Sanchez provided evidence that others could come in and be successful with this scheme. Neither, however, possesses the mobility at quarterback that made Chip Kelly’s offense so formidable at Oregon. Given full power over personnel as part of the Eagles’ recent re-structuring of the front office, Kelly is in position to make a splash on draft day.”
The knock on Hundley has never been about his athleticism. Hundley possesses escape ability very much on par with Mariota and Winston. The issue has been about his accuracy. Most scouts do not see Hundley projecting into a strong pocket presence at the NFL level.
However, does Kelly really need him to be?
As Rang mentioned, neither Foles or Sanchez possessed the type of quarterback mobility that Kelly had in his offense at Oregon. Also, no matter what Kelly says about his admiration for Foles, he did go with Mike Vick when he first arrived in town, a quarterback who possesses a lot more athleticism.
Despite the knocks regarding Hundley’s passing ability, he did possess a completion percentage of 69.1 in 2014 to go along with 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He earned a 152.7 quarterback rating.
To put that into perspective, Mariota had a 68.6 completion percentage to accompany 40 touchdowns and three interceptions on his way to a rating of 184.3 . Mariota rushed for 15 touchdowns while Hundley racked up 10 on the ground.
Hundley could be the type of player that might not be a great fit in every type of NFL system, but could be the perfect fit for some. One such player that fit that mold was Russell Wilson.
Wilson was not on a ton of people’s radar coming out of Wisconsin. He was seen as a middle of the pack quarterback prospect who would come in as someone’s back up. After impressing in his first NFL training camp, he won the Seahawks starting job and the rest is history.
Hundley should also have some appeal for Eagles fans because he is not a sure thing to go in the first round. The Eagles could potentially find a way to address some other need with the 20th pick and still snag Hundley in round two if other teams do not see him as the answer.
By no means is it a sure thing to compare Hundley to Wilson, but his best shot at NFL success is to replicate Wilson’s luck. He has to hope to get selected into a system that accentuates his strengths and allows them to shine.
That system might very well be in Philadelphia.
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