If you thought Chip Kelly frequented his share of pro day workouts last year, one can only wonder how many he'll attend in 2015 knowing he needs a backfield ace for his unique offense. Star LeSean McCoy is off to Buffalo in a trade, and returning veterans Darren Sproles and Chris Polk aren't likely answers for a lead role.
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks offers a few draft possibilities at running back for the Eagles, who own the No. 20 overall pick:
Brooks: "Duke Johnson in my mind would probably be the best fit. He's a carbon copy of Shady McCoy stylistically, the way he runs inside and outside. He's outstanding as a receiver out of the backfield. He could make a seamless transition into that system because his skills are identical to those of Shady."
Brooks: "If it's the first round, Melvin Gordon, because he's one of the best ones there. He played in a zone system at Wisconsin that is similar to what the Eagles do, in terms of how he reads lanes and cuts. He didn't spend a lot of time in the shotgun, so that would be something new for him, but it wouldn't be much of an adjustment."
Brooks: "He's a home-run hitter, very explosive, and with his size and speed and ability to catch the ball, he would be a really good fit."
Brooks: "He's used to up-tempo and playing out of the shotgun, so his eyes would be fine in terms of finding the holes, vision-wise."
Draft options for Kelly will be plenty.
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has third-round-or-better grades on eight running backs for the 2015 NFL Draft, although there is a question as to how early the club might be willing to take a chance on a running back. Aside from the depth that affords Kelly the luxury of waiting and still getting high value, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" that the Eagleswould focus on defense.
Although Brooks projects Gordon as a first-round pick, he doesn't see Kelly investing too heavily, either.
"I think with Chip, I don't know if he would value any running back as a first-round talent," Brooks said. "He believes his system creates players, not players creating the system. So I think this is, 'I'm going to show the world it's my stuff, and not him,' so he's probably going to take a back in the second or third round and try and find someone he can plug in. Because of how much success he had doing it at Oregon, it kind of emboldens and empowers him to think like that."
Aside from Gordon, Brooks' three other candidates could be draft bargains if they are among the backs who slip to the middle rounds. Filling McCoy's void won't be easy, but the job must begin somewhere.
"I don't know if (Kelly) can find someone to replace what Shady is," Brooks said. "Shady is a really, really good football player."