Eagles’ Brass Talks Draft
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) – Pre-draft press conferences around the NFL tend to be fruitless exercises when it comes to pinning down what a particular team might actually do but there is information to be gleaned and both Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas offered up some interesting tidbits Thursday morning at the NovaCare Complex.
Both followed the conventional wisdom and claimed that cornerback, running back and tight end were among the deepest positions in this year’s draft class but Douglas, the team’s vice president of player personnel, also took a left turn by claiming the offensive line was also stocked well, not exactly a popular view around the rest of the league.
Roseman, meanwhile, talked about the philosophy of drafting a RB early in today’s NFL and refused to take the controversial Joe Mixon off the Eagles’ board.
“There are teams that are just philosophically opposed (to taking a running back in the first round),” Philadelphia’s executive vice president of football operations said. “We have a lot of philosophical conversations over the last year and I think it’s important you stick to your core beliefs, whatever that means. And you have to be disciplined.”
Philadelphia has the No. 14 overall pick in the first round and some have projected either Stanford star Christian McCaffrey or Florida State’s Dalvin Cook as potential fits. If not, Mixon, who was embroiled in an ugly incident at Oklahoma in which he punched a woman, could join the conversation on the second round.
Vagueness though, was the theme as it is with most organizations this time of year.
“You don’t know,” Roseman said when asked how things might fall. “There are years where positions that are deep and you get into the fifth, sixth, seventh round and you see guys that you really like. It will be really exciting to see what happens at some of those positions.”
And there is also 2018 and 2019 to think about. Unlike fans, NFL teams are always looking ahead for potential fits down the road when roster building.
“We have done that for a couple positions to make sure that we’re not sitting there saying ‘this position is so great,'” Roseman said when discussing the multi-year approach. “And then next year, and go it’s pretty good next year too, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve done that to a couple positions in this draft that we think are strong and we looked ahead and said, ‘is it uniquely strong? Or is it a position that every year, there are good guys?”
So how will the Eagles proceed next Thursday night?
“The way that we do that, is our pro (personnel) department, led by (director of pro scouting) Dwayne Joseph, they go through team needs so you can kind of figure out teams that have a particular need that may be addressing that position in the first couple of rounds,” Roseman explained. “Or guys that have put a lot of resources in a position. We do that to the best extent that we can, but it’s an inexact science.”
Inexact is being kind but common sense is also in play as evidenced by the Eagles’ recent draft history.
Much of the core of this team were relatively high draft picks, starting obviously with Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall last year. The team’s last three picks from Nos. 10 through 19 were all very successful, however, starting with Jeremy Maclin (now in Kansas City) at No. 19 in 2009 followed by Brandon Graham the next year at No. 13 and Fletcher Cox with the 12th pick in 2013.
Conversely, the team’s last three selections in the 20s are headlined by the oft-criticized Marcus Smith, who might as well be Deacon Jones when compared to the production Danny Watkins and current receiver Nelson Agholor have given Philadelphia.
Douglas may have let the cat out of the bag by speaking very highly of rising Ohio State corner Gareon Conley when discussing the Eagles’ most obvious need.
“Our staff has done a great job of getting Conley on the board early for us as a guy that has unbelievable talent,” Douglas said. “With Gareon, the speed jumps out, the length jumps out.”
Or maybe it was just the latest curveball in the process.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen