Chip Kelly: Eagles interest in Geno Smith 'wasn't a smokescreen'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The Eagles spent some substantial time leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft checking out quarterback Geno Smith, leading many people to believe they'd take him No. 4 overall. That, uh, didn't happen.

In fact, the Eagles passed on Geno twice before the Jets nabbed him at No. 39 overall in the second round of the draft. But Philly coach Chip Kelly maintains that their predraft interest in Geno "wasn't a smokescreen."

"First off, it wasn't a smoke screen," Kelly said Tuesday on WIP-FM in Philly, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We were as thorough with Geno as anyone else with our evaluation. How it happened was we were supposed to have a meeting scheduled that day with Jeffrey [Lurie] in the building on a couple things. And we weren't supposed to meet until the afternoon because we were going to see Geno, and it was an hour away by plane.

"And he said, 'Hey, I'll go with you guys.'"

Obviously when owner Lurie hops on the plane for a ride to West Virginia to look at a potential franchise quarterback, it sends a signal. Or not: Kelly said Lurie coming along was just a "coincidence."

Lurie said himself, per Berman, that he was heavily involved in looking at players because of the nature of the pick, a top-five selection.

And the Eagles were so busy preparing for that pick that Kelly called any potential smokescreening and or attempts to "bluff the other 31 teams" in the NFL "wasting our time."

"Is it a smoke screen to other people? I think that intrigue and that part of it, I kind of get a kick out of," Kelly said. "We don't have enough time to go out there and say, 'Hey, let's bluff the other 31 teams in the league by going to do this.' If we are, we're wasting our time."

That's a really good way to phrase it. After all, we always assume teams have tons of time to leak out information and/or make visits just to throw people off the trail. Teams won't visit with players they do like, just so people don't know they like them.

Maybe there's less smoke-screening than we think going on, at least on the part of the teams. Or maybe not. At least in the curious case of Kelly and Smith and the Eagles, it simply appears he didn't fit what they wanted in terms of a pick in the first two rounds.

 
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