Kelly-Mariota reunion still the talk of Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The nonstop speculation about Marcus Mariota reuniting with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia is almost over.

We’ll find out Thursday night if Kelly will trade whatever it takes to get Mariota, or if the price to move up from No. 20 to select the Heisman Trophy winner is too costly for the Eagles.

”I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft,” Kelly said in March. ”We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that because we have too many other holes that we are going to take care of.”

Even that statement didn’t silence the rumors. Neither did the acquisition of quarterback Sam Bradford.

From the minute Kelly arrived in Philadelphia, there’s been endless talk about Mariota coming here. Mariota is an ideal QB to run Kelly’s up-tempo offense and the coach loves him.

But Kelly won 10 games and an NFC East title with Nick Foles in 2013 and another 10 games with Foles and Mark Sanchez in 2014. So, maybe he won’t trade a slew of picks/players to get Mariota and he’s content with Bradford.

Then again, nobody knows Kelly’s definition of mortgaging the future.

”I think there is an internal number on that that we’re not going to share outside the building, but we know what mortgaging the future is internally,” new personnel chief Ed Marynowitz said.

Would the Eagles consider ”mortgaging the future” for a player in this draft?

”If there is a player that we feel makes sense that can really improve our team and has a significant role for us next year, I think we’ll certainly consider that,” Marynowitz said.

Here’s some non-Mariota things to know about the Eagles going into the draft:

BIGGEST NEEDS: With Bradford, Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley on the quarterback depth chart, Mariota is more of a want than a need. The Eagles need help at safety, wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback. Possible picks if they stay put and select at No. 20 are: Alabama safety Landon Collins, Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, Pitt offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings, Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones. Overall, the Eagles have eight picks, including two in the fifth round.

PICKING THE PROTOTYPE: The Eagles want players who fit certain criteria for height, weight and speed. They eliminate players from their draft board if they don’t meet these standards.

”It’s not to say we’re totally going to eliminate a guy if he’s outside those parameters, but he better be exceptional in a lot of other areas to take a shot on a guy like that,” Marynowitz said.

KELLY HAS ALL THE CHIPS: This will be Kelly’s first draft since he gained control over all personnel moves. But he better rely on his scouts. Last year, former GM Howie Roseman had to persuade Kelly that taking Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart in the third round was too early. The Eagles eventually drafted Hart in the fifth round.

”I’ve never been one to agree just to agree,” Marynowitz said. ”I’ve got no problems speaking my mind. I’ve done the work. I’m confident in my preparation, and that’s what Chip wants. He wants checks and balances. He wants to hear the opinions, and we’re in this together, and we’re going to make good decisions.”

DUCK WATCH: Other players from Oregon (besides Mariota) who could end up joining Kelly in Philadelphia are defensive end Arik Armstead and offensive lineman Jake Fisher.

”I think the difference with Oregon players for Chip, and Alabama players in my case, we know a lot more of the character, attitude, intelligence, because you’ve been around these guys,” Marynowitz said.

CHARACTER CONCERNS: During a win over the New York Giants last year, Kelly was heard on the sideline saying: ”culture beats scheme every day.” So, it’s no surprise the Eagles avoid players who’ve had off-field issues.

”We want guys that are wired the right way,” Marynowitz said. ”The best people, the best players are the guys that have the best intangibles. We’re big on culture here and the right fit, and I think that it’s important that we continue to bring guys in that are wired the right way.”

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