Roseman Uses Ward vs. Hollins to Teach Roster Building 101
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Back in 2015 Chip Kelly admitted that linebacker Najee Goode was No. 54 on a day only 53 players could populate the Philadelphia Eagles' roster.
Howie Roseman wasn't that definitive on Saturday when discussing the latest cutdown day in Philadelphia but you can bet Greg Ward was one of the last to go.
For the third straight summer, the former University of Houston star quarterback turned professional receiver opened up plenty of eyes with his playmaking ability but fell short again, losing out on the final spot at the position to Mack Hollins.
Part of it is pedigree in that Hollins is a former fourth-round pick by Roseman and Ward came in as an undrafted free agent. Part of it is size in that Hollins is a rangy 6-foot-4 while Ward is best suited for slot work at under 6-feet. But most had to do with special teams as Hollins was a proven commodity on the third unit in college at North Carolina while Ward was too busy handling the offense in South Texas.
If you were just judging the five best receivers this summer Ward is still employed and not on the NFL's waiver wire but that's not how roster-building works in the NFL.
As a fifth WE behind Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside the likelihood Ward would be contributing to the offense wasn't great so the contribution had to come as a core member of Dave Fipp's special teams units.
That's where Hollins won the job, something Roseman explained in great detail while talking to reporters on Saturday at the NovaCare Complex.
"It’s interesting because you go through the whole offseason and your whole goal is to collect as much talent as you possibly can,” he explained. “You want to build a team, you want to find the right guys, and then this week you really start trying to figure out roles and responsibilities and trying to build a team and trying to find the right fits."
Ward is good enough to play in the NFL but the fit wasn't there again.
"Greg’s done a tremendous job and really I don’t have an answer what he could have done more other than we’re trying to balance everyone we have at every position and what we’re looking for offensively, defensively and on special teams, and sometimes it just comes down to looking for a specific role for a specific spot," Roseman assessed. "When we look at the wide receiver room and what we were looking for and what Greg had done on special teams and maybe what we were looking for from that fifth receiver spot on special teams, it was just not something that he had done."
Jim Schwartz doesn't coach Ward but the Eagles defensive coordinator is well-versed on how many things have to go right to turn 54 into 53.
"Guys make teams or don’t make teams for a lot of reasons," Schwartz said. "It could be numbers at their position, it could be scheme fit, it could be injury, a lot of different things. And we have seen a lot of different guys that have scrapped their way up from the bottom in this league. We have a lot of guys on this team that are contributors. ... You root for everyone in this business. You know how hard they work and what they put into their effort and making a contribution to the team. And not everyone can make the team, but when it is all said and done, everyone that was in camp with us will have contributed to our team somehow and to our success going forward."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen