Eagles Have a Draft Plan, Will Work it Thursday Night
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - In the leadup to the NFL Draft, the Eagles posted a video with player personnel coordinator Casey Weidl which offered a glimpse into how Philadelphia handles the process.
"Have a plan, work the plan, but plan for the unexpected," Weidl, the younger brother of Joe Douglas' right-hand man Andy Weidl, assessed.
The Eagles' personnel department, led by executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and personnel chief Douglas, certainly has its plan heading into Thursday's first round and the organization will do everything possible to try to work the plan but when you start the process at No. 25 overall, there are hundreds of variables in the mix that you have no control over, and that's where "plan for the unexpected" comes in.
Philadelphia has three of the top 57 selections in the 2019 draft and seven overall picks, a number it likely wants to build on as the roster-building philosophy shifts a bit.
Whether it comes to the next week before the Eagles have to exercise Carson Wentz's fifth-year option or is pushed off until next year the big money is coming for Carson and that means Philadelphia is going to need rookies on cost-effective contracts to be viable contributors on the roster sooner rather than later, a reality again highlighted by Ben Roethlisberger's extension in Pittsburgh earlier this week.
Even though the Eagles would prefer to add rather than subtract picks it's always about the player and the fit.
If Roseman and Douglas do like someone who begins to drift a bit, the names are likely going to belong to Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford or an edge rusher they value that had begun to sink due to quarterbacks being pushed up the board.
Conversely if the Eagles move back put satiety in the equation with Maryland's Darnell Savage or Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in play.
Most of the late scuttlebutt surrounding Philadelphia has centered on Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown since Peter King went that direction in his mock draft. King has been directly plugged in to a certain someone in the Eagles' brass so many have taken the suggestion and run with it, citing Brown's ability to offer a Tyreek Hill-dimension to the offense.
Both Roseman and Douglas also spiritedly defended Sidney Jones during their pre-draft process, the talented cornerback who was essentially a medical redshirt back in 2017. That put up the antennae for Jeffery Simmons, a top-10 level prospect at defensive tackle this year who will slip a bit due to a torn ACL that should wipe out most of his rookie season.
What we do know about the Eagles is that the philosophy of building up front on both sides of the football dates back to Andy Reid's tenure in Philadelphia.
“It’s something that stuck,” Roseman admitted when discussing Reid's preferred footprint.
Philadelphia ensured continuity on the offensive side by extending All-Pro center Jason Kelce and emerging left guard Isaac Seumalo while also bringing back future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters back for 2019 with a re-worked deal. On defense, the Eagles re-signed star end Brandon Graham, brought back Vinny Curry and brought in Malik Jackson, a player who should make things easier for superstar Fletcher Cox inside.
So why look to the lines?
Well, Roseman for one called the defensive line talent in this draft "historic" back in January while the team still needs an heir apparent to Peters and a replacement for well-regarded interior backup Stefen Wisniewski on offense.
The Eagles have done plenty of homework on both sides of the line as they try to sift through the best potential fits.
Among their top 30 visits are players that figure to be long gone like Houston DT Ed Oliver, Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat, Clemson DT Christian Wilkins and Florida OT Jawaan Taylor.
Names that visited the NoVaCare Complex who could conceivably reach 25 are Michigan DL Rashan Gary, dropping a bit due to shoulder concerns, Ford, Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom, reportedly a Jeff Stoutland favorite, Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and even Louisiana Tech edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson or rising OT Tyrus Howard of Alabama State.
For Roseman, who has the final say on draft night, it's always about the value.
"The thing that's great about Howie is he understands the value," former Eagles scout and lead-NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "He understands kind of the board in terms of supply and demand at certain positions. He understands how to move around and just maximizing your value, and being able to say, Hey, I know we like this guy, but we can move, we can still get him or we can get somebody else we like just as much, and we can get a little something extra. He's just very good at kind of seeing the big picture and having a draft day strategy."
EAGLES HORIZONTAL DRAFT BOARD NO. 25 OVERALL:
Have a Plan, Work the Plan -- Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown, Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons, Oklahoma OL Cody Ford
Plan for the Unexpected -- Michigan DL Rashan Gary, Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Ohio State DT, Dre'Mont Jones, Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom, Mississippi State WR D.K. Metcalf, Maryland S Darnell Savage, Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin
Trade the Heck Out - Mississippi State S Jonathan Abram, Delaware S Nasir Adderly, Georgia CB DeAndre Baker, Ohio State WR Parris Campbell, Washington CB Byron Murphy, Louisiana Tech edge Jaylon Ferguson, Alabama State OT Tytus Howard
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen