Character – The Great Unknown

Posted: April 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

For my column I wrote about character.  It really is a tricky issue.  Who do you take?  Who do you pass on?  We got very lucky with DeSean Jackson, who had his share of character concerns.  Other guys come into the league with no issues and develop problems.  You can do all the research in the world, but we’re still talking about human beings in a highly competitive, brutal, physical environment.  Oh, and they’re mostly well-paid young males convinced they are above the law, immortal, and will never have to worry about money again.  What could go wrong?

* * * * *

Couple of questions readers had.

Should the Eagles have interest in ECU receiver/RS Dwayne Harris? I think the Eagles will like his skill set.  Harris is a good slot receiver.  He’s athletic, but also a strong, tough player.  He’s smaller than Jason Avant, but faster.  Still has a thick build, which can be good in the slot.  Good  RS.  Experience with both punts and kickoffs.  Ran back 3 KOs for TDs in his career.  I’m not sure what his value is.  Greg Cosell loves the guy and said on Twitter he’d take him in the 3rd round.  I think Harris goes later than that.  ECU players don’t have a great track record of success in the NFL.  I’d love to get Harris in the 5th round.

Why do we keep mentioning that the lack of signing UDFAs could change 7th round picks? Good question.  I should have touched on this earlier.  Late in the draft teams start calling guys they want to sign as UDFAs.  Assistant coaches and scouts talk to players, often guys they worked out and have some kind of relationship with.  The player is offered a bonus.  If the money is right and he likes the team, he’ll agree to sign.

Let’s imagine it is late in the 6th round.  The Eagles have a 7th round pick to use, but don’t love any prospects.  They can trade the pick, knowing they’ll be able to sign UDFAs.  Some team in love with a pick will give a future 6th rounder for the current 7th.  Now, you can’t do that.  You’ve got to draft the player if you feel strongly enough.

You also have to understand UDFAs.  Let’s say the Eagles are on the clock in the 7th.  They have 2 prospects evenly rated.  One is a CB from a D2 school.  The other is an OL from a Pac-10 school.  If you think you have a good chance to sign the CB as a UDFA, you draft the big school kid.  There will be competition from all 32 teams for UDFAs from the big schools.  Small school players are easier to sign because some teams will simply have no interest in that guy.

I think teams in the 7th round this year will spend more picks on small school players than in other years.  I could be dead wrong.  I’ve never seen a situation like this so it is purely guesswork on my part.  I’m still hoping both sides figure something out so that we can have the normal UDFA signing structure.

*** Reader mcud had a long answer to the UDFA question in Friday’s comments section that I felt was worth adding here:

Think about it. You interview or study about 500 prospects, especially those in your local area, as their visits don’t count against the NFL allowable limit. Certain players are guys you like, but you’ve only got a 5th, 6th, or 7th round grade on them. Knowing every team’s draft board is going to be different, there are going to be players that you don’t have a draftable grade on that actually get drafted by another team, and on the flip side, players that you may have a draftable grade on may go undrafted.

With that in mind, as the draft goes on, you may contact those players to gauge their interest in joining your club as an UDFA. Most UDFA come to an informal agreement to join a roster before the draft is even over. So, if you think a kid isn’ t going to be drafted, and have a handshake agreement for him to join your club after the draft, then you would instead focus on spending your actual draft pick on a player that you can’t reach a handshake agreement with, or a kid you DON’T think you’ll be able to sign after the draft.

Hank Baskett is a good example. I’m told the Eagles had a 4th round grade on Hank, but it became apparent to them that he wouldn’t be drafted, so they hoped to sign him as an UDFA, and kept their picks for other players. Then, Minnesota swooped in and made Baskett a better offer, and he signed with them instead. The Eagles got greedy, and they had to rectify that mistake by actually trading for Baskett that fall.

4 Comments on “Character – The Great Unknown”

  1. 1 ATG said at 7:08 PM on April 16th, 2011:

    Okay, so teams usually contact college players before the draft ends, discusses bringing them in as UDFAs, then lets the draft end and signs them before workouts begin. Are any of these things prohibited this year? Can teams not call potential draftees during the draft because of the lockout?

    Otherwise, it seems like the only difference is the time frame. Teams only reason to draft the final round differently would be because they fear the guys having second thoughts while they wait at home for the lockout to end. And if the owners are playing by the rules, the UDFAs won’t be hearing of any other interest during the down time.

    That being said, we have three 7th rounders. Two are at the end of the draft and cannot be traded. I guess we might as well use them on some guys we want to get exclusive rights to sign.

    As to character, I think you nailed it in an earlier post when you pointed out the Eagles develop a healthy environment by getting high character guys when other factors are equal, allowing them to take a chance on a couple of guys with superior ability and character concerns.

    Ironically, I think Michael Vick started as one of those guys, but now seems to be one of the best factors is being able to keep a young, immature guy in line. I would hate to be the young buck who thinks he can take his opportunity for granted and either ignore or pull the wool over Vick’s eyes. I can’t imagine there are many young guys who will be unaffected by Vick getting in their face and telling them to straighten up. If you had told me three years ago that I would see him as a positive to our teams’ character…

  2. 2 Eaglesfanatlarge said at 12:13 AM on April 17th, 2011:

    Didn’t Howie come in with a new philosophy that emphasized high character guys? Wasn’t almost every guy drafted last year a squeaky clean team captain type? I think it is quite possible if Jimmy Smith is there at 23 the Eagles either take a pass or trade back and let someone else take that risk.

  3. 3 T_S_O_P said at 2:40 AM on April 17th, 2011:

    The only point I have on late rounders is what happened with Jamar Chaney. Clearly we felt he wasn’t going to last to our compensatory 7th round picks, and equally we must have had a grade quite a bit higher than the round we picked him as we traded a future pick to acquire him. Had we pulled a deal like that before Howie? He has proved himself to be very aggressive and not afraid of gathering a quantity of players.

    On the Offensive Line, I am not sure if we have looked harder at more small school types this year and whether that is because of Mudd or just because the lower divisions have more talent this year. I am interested on a comment of yours from Fan-Demonium from a while abck about us previously looking outside- in, whereas Mudd was more likely to go inside – out. Would that mean players like Rackley and Arkin wouldn’t necessarily project as guards?

  4. 4 Ken said at 10:17 AM on April 17th, 2011:


    This is off topic, but you talked about Thomas Howard a few times before when he was rumored to be available for trade and always said you didn’t think he was physical enough for our defense. Has your position changed on him at all now that we’re changing our LB philosophy? If so where would he fit on on this defense?