Ask Eagles GM Howie Roseman one of the most important traits of successful people across all walks of life and his answer may surprise you, but it's a belief that helped mold the way him and his head coach, Chip Kelly, are shaping the Eagles franchise, starting with the NFL Draft.
"When you look at people who are successful in any profession, it always goes back to college graduates. We found that NFL players are no different." Roseman explained to the Wall Street Journal.
That philosophical light bulb went off when both Roseman and Kelly independently discovered that the most successful NFL teams happen to be the ones with the most college graduates. Kelly first heard of this philosophy when Tony Dungy came to give a talk to his team at Oregon. In the talk, Dungy mentioned that while he was coaching in the 2000's the two teams loaded with college grads (the Colts and the Patriots) dominated the NFL ranks for years.
That was somewhat of a "light bulb moment" for Kelly at the time. As he talked to Dungy more, the former Colts head coach explained that his research showed that players with college degrees were more likely to earn a second NFL contract. Dungy told Kelly that the "guys with degrees have what you're looking for. They are driven."
The Wall Street Journal explains that Roseman was doing similar research before Kelly came on board as the head coach, having him and his front office guys look beyond the height and weight and into the background of the players on the four remaining playoff teams each year. His research showed that of the three teams that took the most fifth-year draft eligible seniors, two of them (Seattle and Denver) met in the playoffs. Furthermore, The Jacksonville Jaguars selected the least amount of players with degrees, and well...we all know how that turned out.
Kelly attributes a degree as much more than just proof of what a player is capable of intelligence-wise.
"It's also, what is their commitment? They set goals out for themselves and can they follow through for it? A lot of people can tell you they want to do this, this and this. But look at their accomplishments."
That's some really interesting stuff, and it makes a lot of sense. It's tough to measure something like commitment and drive, but focusing on a goal like graduation for four years and staying committed through the trials, tribulations, and temptations of a college student-athlete to get your degree finished should hold some water, and the Eagles recognize, and appreciate that.
Read the full post from the Wall Street Journal, including a lot of behind the scenes and in depth information behind a handful of their 2014 draft picks and why they chose them based on the "degrees theory", here.