Inside the nest: Brian Mihalik

When you talk about “big guys” in the NFL, they don’t come much bigger than the Eagles 7th round draft pick Brian Mihalik. The 6″9 Defensive End heads into training camp with every intention of earning a roster spot, but will he see him on the field in 2015?

Brian Mihalik was the tallest man in the entire 2015 draft class and his only pre-draft visit was in Philly. Many expected him to go undrafted due to his lack of overall efficiency, but he may just be the perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s Defensive Unit. Kelly has often used the phrase “big people beat up little people”..he may have just found the biggest.

The coach seemed to think that he fell down the order as he best fits a 3-4 Defensive end yet played in a 4-3 at Boston. So his positives have not really been exploited as he was never in a scheme to have them highlighted, but the Eagles head coach seems to think that Mihalik is the perfect fit for a two gap DE.

Kelly saw what other coaches simply didn’t. He’s not just a big body that has no athletic ability. Mihalik ran a 4.88-second 40-yard dash and has a 34 inch vertical leap…34 inches.

The main reason that the defensive end was drafted however may be the vision that the Coaching Staff possess. There is an inevitable reason that a player has slipped to the seventh round, so instead of focusing on why, they focus on why he should have been higher. By searching out a skill that the team need, they can find the player best suited to the unit, the formula left them with Mihalik.

This is usually where we reference some big college numbers, but unfortunately there isn’t that much that stands out. In his time at Boston, he never recorded more than 27 tackles or 31 sacks in a single year. He wasn’t to be scouted at the combine nor did he receive any huge honours. He was very much a player who in size was huge, but in numbers wasn’t so intimidating.

Again you have to see this as a Chip Kelly project. It’s evident that the fundamentals are there, the sheer size and pace are encouraging and the Eagles will be hoping to turn an egg into an omelette so to speak. His play style lacks urgency and there is some work to be done on breaking blocks. He’s not an effective pass rusher as of yet and doesn’t have the best spacial awareness by any stretch of the imagination. But playing in a system that fits a player is only going to help him progress, the Eagles have even mentioned adding more muscle to his current frame. There is room for improvement, but it’s achievable. It’s not a lost cause and with the right help on his side, Brian Mihalik could become one of the most intimidating Defensive Ends in the league..but it’s heavily dependant on what the Eagles have done with him this off-season and how they intend to develop him through training camp.

He may not make the roster this season, but a year in the practice squad would not necessarily be a bad thing as he has even more time to learn from some of the best in the scheme and to develop his less impressive traits to a point where he is a much better all rounded player. But only time will tell. The potential is there, it’s just down to how Kelly moulds the dough.