Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Chip Kelly's "Misfits" that We Love: Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin

Misfits: There is no better word to describe Brandon Boykin and Vinny Curry in this current Eagles program. They are extremely effective players in their respective roles, but I have to believe they are full-time starters in other systems and programs around the league.

#55: Brandon Graham - OLB/DE - 6'1" - 260 lbs
Brandon Graham almost fell into this category, but he's found a niche in the defense. He doesn't seem like a Chip Kelly prototype OLB (he's not a "long-fluid-agile" player). He's more of a natural 4-3 defensive end--play low, stay low, hand in the dirt kind of player. But he's earned a contract extension and seems locked-up to start at OLB in the base packages.

Graham could almost certainly make more money as a 4-3 DE, but the Eagles stuck by him through his injury and he chose loyalty in the offseason.

#22: Brandon Boykin - CB - 5'10" - 185 lbs
First, I'd like to start by saying that I've wanted to see Boykin as the starting CB since the Eagles drafted him. And I'm a bit baffled that we didn't, particularly with the egregiously bad play of Bradley Fletcher down the stretch of the 2014 season.

The acquisition of Walter Thurmond, one of the best nickelbacks in the league in 2013, should have been an opportunity for Boykin to get reps at outside corner. Instead, Thurmond has seen reps at safety, Boykin is still in the slot and Nolan Carroll is getting looks outside with rookie Eric Rowe taking number 2 reps at outside corner (not working at safety).

Seems like another season where Boykin will not see the outside and reports are that he's getting frustrated. He's referenced his nickelback role on twitter with seeming undervalued cynicism this offseason.

My thought is that his diminutive stature is subordinate to his extreme athleticism, leaping ability, abnormally long arms and giant hands.  He's a play-maker around the ball. Boykin sheds blocks and tackles aggressively for a corner.  He also has the agility that comes with a more compact corner.

The one and only knock on Brandon Boykin is that he's not the 6'1" - 200 lb Chip Kelly prototype.

Final Answer: Although there is more competition in the secondary this season, I'd let him compete for outside corner and let Rowe and Wolff fight out the safety position.

#75: Vinny Curry - DE - 6'3" - 270 lbs
Vinny Curry is one of the most disruptive players on the Eagles defense. He's not a conventional 3-4 scheme fit at all. He's not big enough to match force with NFL offensive linemen heads-up while playing two gaps and he's really too big and not quick enough to cover in space like an outside linebacker.

But whenever he is on the field he seems to make a play every time. He shines brightly on third down and obvious passing situations where he can shoot gaps and just disrupt a play.

Fortunately for Eagles fans, Vinny Curry is one of us--he's an Eagles' fan. He seems happy enough to be a pass-rush specialist in Philadelphia. Perhaps in time, in light of his "all-in" attitude and strong work ethic, he will find an expanded role like fellow misfit Brandon Graham.

Curry could certainly make more money as a 4-3 under anchor (strong side defensive end in a Gus Bradley style defense), but he's here for now even if only as a situational role-player in a very good group of defensive linemen.

Since Chip Kelly has taken the reigns, he's made his prototype defensive lineman obvious. Geathers, Kruger, Bair, Hart, Mahilik and Mays among others are 6'6" to 6'9" defensive linemen and Chip has pursued them in droves.

Curry will never be that, but his effectiveness is real.

Final Answer: Curry just isn't a great scheme fit in the Eagles base package, but Chip Kelly and Billy Davis still need to find more ways to get him on the field.

Chip Kelly's Misfits:

If Chip Kelly and Billy Davis can find a way to maximize the impact of their misfits (in expanded roles of some kind) the Eagles could find themselves with one of the more dynamic defenses in the league.

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