Three ‘red Flag' Picks Signal Philosophical Shift for Eagles

Chip Kelly isn't running the show anymore.

If that wasn't clear already - and it should have been - things came even more into focus Saturday for Day 3 of the NFL draft.

Under Kelly, the Eagles refused to draft players with "red flags." But on Saturday, the new regime drafted three players with somewhat checkered pasts, in what was seemingly a philosophical shift for the franchise.

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"We don't feel like we brought any bad people in here," vice president of football operations and de facto general manager Howie Roseman said Saturday night. "We feel like some of them maybe made mistakes but they're not bad people."

The Eagles hope three players from their six Day 3 picks don't duplicate past mistakes.

Wendell Smallwood: The Eagles' drafted the West Virginia running back in the fifth round despite a 2014 witness tampering charges in a murder case. Smallwood said Saturday he was "just in a wrong situation" and claimed he did nothing wrong (see story)

Jalen Mills: A seventh-round safety out of LSU, Mills was arrested in 2014 for second-degree battery of a woman. Those charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and were eventually dropped. Roseman said the Eagles were "satisfied" with the investigation done by Baton Rouge police and LSU. The Eagles had chances to talk to Mills at the Senior Bowl and combine to give his version of the events.

"We think we know what kind of kid this is, but again, he gets here and he's going to have to prove it here," Roseman said.

Alex McCalister: While McCalister's red flag wasn't legal in nature, the Florida defensive end didn't come with a clean backstory either. He was reportedly kicked off the Florida football team for violating team rules.

"He's just a kid that needed to grow up a little bit, but he's not a bad person, not a bad kid," said Roseman, who declined to get into specifics about McCalister's story.

All three cases are different. And, really, any case involving character concerns is unique. Roseman said they really have to look at each individual situation "in a vacuum" and rely on their personnel people and scouts who spend the most time with the young athletes.

With just two picks in the top 150 of this year's draft, selecting three players with character issues - certainly risk-reward situations - allowed the team to at least get good value from a football standpoint.

Basically, these players' issues probably dropped at least a couple of them in the draft.

"Yeah, there's no question that players are going to have to look at their actions to see why they didn't go where they thought they should have in the draft," Roseman said.

"And it's very clear that teams are looking at that. We see that in the first round, we see that in the second round, we see that throughout the draft. When you make questionable decisions in your life, it's affecting you going forward and it's costing these guys a lot of money.

"What we hope is that they're good people and they make mistakes like we all do. And that we develop them going forward, that this is just part of their history. And something they learn from."

While Kelly was very strict about the type of character guys he wanted in his program, Roseman was quick to point out the Eagles used to give out second chances and take chances on players with character concerns. On Saturday night, he used Michael Vick, Terrell Owens and DeSean Jackson as examples.

"The past is the past," head coach Doug Pederson said. "History is history. That's why they call it history."

As for Chip Kelly's high character standards? For better or for worse - they seem to be history too.

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