Armed with science and a bit of logic, the Eagles have quietly scoured the college ranks for something that has little to do with 40-yard dash times or bench-press abilities. They want players who have earned college degrees.
"When you look at people who are successful in any profession, it always goes back to college graduates," said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. "We found NFL players are no different."
Kelly said a degree is more than proof of intelligence. "It's also, what is their commitment?" he said. "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."
The Eagles say they want players who are prepared, and a degree confirms that. Take wide receiver Jordan Matthews, a Vanderbilt economics major whose study habits translated perfectly to the NFL.
Before meeting with the Eagles ahead of the draft, Matthews slipped into Vanderbilt's film room and watched a few Eagles games from last season—which he did with every team he met. Matthews was able to have an informed conversation with Kelly about the intricacies of his offense, something seldom done in the slog of pre-draft interviews, where some players meet with dozens of teams. The study habits paid off: The Eagles took Matthews in the second round.