INDIANAPOLIS –- Chip Kelly has a preference for big players.
He recruited 6-foot-7 defensive lineman Arik Armstead in college and will be reunited with the first-round pick of the 49ers from last year’s draft. Kelly also lured one of this draft’s top defensive players to Oregon.
Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner certainly looks the part. He checked into the NFL Scouting Combine at 6-7, 291 pounds with 34 3/8-inch arms and hands that measured 11 ¾ inches.
“Our philosophy has always been big people beat up little people,” Kelly said. “We’ve always wanted to be big.”
On that point, Kelly and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke seem to agree. Bigger, as a general rule, is better.
“You don’t rule anybody out, but you have certain guidelines,” Kelly said. “Because if you skimp on those guidelines, eventually you’ll find yourself getting run over because you’re too small.
“If you continue to take exceptions at every position, you’re going to get run out of the game.”
The 49ers own the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, and Buckner is a distinct possibility to end up with his old coach -- if he is not selected before that, as many believe. Buckner is widely considered a better prospect than Armstead, whom the 49ers chose a year ago with the No. 17 overall selection.
Armstead and Buckner have similar builds, but their styles are different, Buckner said.
“Arik is a big power guy,” Buckner said. ‘He likes to use his power all the time. But sometimes I like to finesse and shake-and-bake sometimes. I can’t use my power all the time, so I like to try to get around and beat offensive linemen. I feel like I’m more athletic than them.”
Kelly cited Armstead and Buckner as examples of how he favored big-bodied players at Oregon.
“At one point, I think our football team rivaled our basketball team walking on campus,” Kelly said.
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Buckner said on Friday that he often heard opposing offensive linemen remark on the physical stature of the Ducks’ offensive line when he was on the field with Armstead.
“I’m pretty sure every game we played, O-linemen when we got on the field, would look at him, me and (Alex) Balducci and they’re all, ‘Man, you guys are big as hell,’” Bucker said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Kelly said has been drawn to big players while coaching at the University of New Hampshire and seeing the size of the New England Patriots players when he made frequent visits during training camp.
Baalke often cites the length of players’ arms as a valuable gauge of an athlete’s potential. Kelly admitted that he is also fascinated by arm length.
"We believe long levers are strong levers," Kelly said.
"You always look at that," he added. “That's a key component depending on what position you are. Even if it's receiver. What's your catch radius? Is he a short-armed guy or is he a long-armed guy?
"That's just the way the game is, it's the way the NBA is evolving. You can cover more space. That's always been the philosophy I tried to recruit to in college and bring to when we were in Philly. And now it really matches in terms of what Trent's looking for. We see the game the same way."