Ben Smith

 

Nearly a quarter century since the last time the Philadelphia Eagles was the owner of the 22nd overall pick, and both the 1990 and 2013 teams have some distinct similarities. One major difference, the head coach back then, Buddy Ryan, was unknowingly on his way out. Fast forward 24 years and Chip Kelly is all but just arriving.

This is just the second time in franchise history that the Eagles hold the 22nd overall pick.

After finishing the regular season 10-6 and being crowned the 2013 NFC East leader, the Philadelphia Eagles are the rightful owners of No. 22 in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ironically, Chip Kelly will likely utilize the Eagles first-round pick on the same position as Buddy Ryan did.

The last time the Philadelphia Eagles last held the No. 22 overall pick in the draft would prove to be Buddy Ryan’s last time he would select an Eagles player in the first-round. Philadelphia was coming off a successful campaign the year prior (1989) after finishing with a very similar record (11-5) as the 2013 Eagles (10-6). The Eagles needed to inject youth into an aging secondary

Ryan selected Georgia defensive back Ben Smith.

Smith had a phenomenal rookie campaign as the Eagles left cornerback recording 91 tackles and three interceptions. It would prove to be his best season during his six-year NFL career.

Ten games into his second NFL season, Smith dropped to the ground in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 10, 1991. His left knee was annihilated . Vincent DiStefano, the Eagles’ team physician and surgeon and the head of orthopedics at Graduate Hospital at the time, called it “the worst knee injury we’ve seen around here in many, many years”, per Inquirer staff writer Sal Paolantonio, who is now an ESPN analyst.

Fast forward 24 years and there is a very strong sense that Chip Kelly will also be selecting a defensive back in the upcoming draft due to a defensive backs unit that struggled more times than not to contain defenders. There is also a severe lack of discipline among the Eagles secondary unit which leads to the majority of their issues against the pass.

Despite slight improvement during the second half of the regular season, the Eagles secondary ranked among the bottom five (29th) in passing yards allowed per game. Because of the Eagles woes in the secondary, most pundits are pegging the Eagles to select one of the premier cornerbacks entering the draft.

Most believe Darqueze Dennard (Michigan St.) will be called at No. 22 while some argue the most logical choice would be  Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma St) who is ranked as the best CB entering the draft.

As it stands right now Philadelphia’s secondary is the teams’ weakest unit, and absolutely warrants attention during the offseason. But until free agency is complete and the Eagles have re-signed who they want to keep and sign players who could bolster the roster, there’s really no guessing what Chip Kelly will do at No. 22.

Remember, a wide receiver is not entirely out of the question with both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper set to become free agents. Would you be disappointed if Philadelphia drafts Kelvin Benjamin (6-4, 232) out of Florida?

Benjamin possesses a rare blend of size and speed, with a huge frame for a wide receiver at near 6-4 and a lean 230-plus pounds. But maybe one of Benjamin’s biggest strengths is his change-of-direction burst and overwhelm defenders to make plays.

He would certainly give Chip Kelly that sought after size that he looks for in his players. “Big guys beat up little guys”. And I’m sure QB Nick Foles wouldn’t mind throwing the ball his direction either..

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