GM Howie Roseman had his annual pre-draft PC today. Let’s talk about some of the highlights.
BPA. This stands for Best Player Available. The goal in the draft, especially the early rounds, is to upgrade the overall team. Sometimes a team will reach for a player based on need. There are times when that has to be done, but you can hurt yourself if you pass on special talent for a lesser player who is more of a need pick. One of the big talking points for Roseman is going BPA this year. The Eagles didn’t do that last year, but I think a lot of that had to do with the lockout. Teams didn’t know what to expect from free agency so there was more of an emphasis on need last April than usual. The focus this year is definitely going for talent.
“It sounds simple but it’s the truth,” said Roseman. “It’s very hard because of the way this league is now and the nature of it and the pressure on everyone to sit there when you have this need sticking out at you and you know that you have a player ranked higher to still take that best player, because you want to win right now. If you go back to what’s in the best long-term interests of the franchise as opposed to really what’s in your best interests, you’re going to make the right decision.
“If we take the best player and add competition, that will only bring good things for our team … There are some variations in that. If you have guys closely graded and you don’t have anyone at that specific spot, you’re going to take that position. But if there’s any variation in the grade, we’re going to take the best player.”
Keep the Senior Bowl and Combine in proper perspective. This is another popular theme with the Eagles. I’m not so sure I fully get it, though. Brandon Graham was great at the 2010 Senior Bowl. Did the Eagles take him because of just that? No. Graham led the nation in TFLs that year. He also had a good showing at the Combine. Graham held up to any set of criteria. Nate Allen was good at the Senior Bowl. He also was good on film and at the Combine.
I’m not sure who the Eagles took because of an over-inflated performance at the Senior Bowl. I wonder if this is somewhat of a PR thing being done by the team to shake the perception that the Eagles overrate the Senior Bowl. Go all the way back to Trevor Laws. He was great at the Senior Bowl. He also had a great Senior season. He then lasted to the middle of the 2nd round. There was nothing bad about that pick (from a value standpoint) …except for the results.
As for the Combine…that is more open. Keenan Clayton had a great Combine. He was also light and not a real physical player. He wasn’t drafted until the 4th round so it isn’t as if the team wasted a pick on him. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (god I hated typing that name) was over-drafted. He did post good workout numbers. I wasn’t a big fan of his tape, but even DTN had 29 career sacks. He wasn’t a workout warrior that didn’t produce in college.
Back to the theme (whether PR or real)…
In going back and reviewing the successes and failures of their recent drafts, the Eagles, according to Roseman, identified the occasional positional reach as a flaw. Another area they’ve aimed to clean up is any emphasis placed on a prospect’s performance during the post-season All-Star games and the NFL Scouting Combine. Because of that, Roseman said they’ve only made “tweaks” to the draft board since December.
Quick note…many of you may wonder if the Eagles aren’t reaching based on the Senior Bowl or Combine and the guys have such great careers…why aren’t the players working out better? First, injuries had a huge impact on both Brandon Graham and Nate Allen. If both players rebound as hoped, the popular notions about the Eagles drafting could change drastically.
That said, I do think one trap the Eagles have fallen into (and I’m guilty myself at times) is focusing on college accomplishment too much rather than pro potential. DTN had 29 sacks in college. I could watch the tape and see his lack of burst. Loved his motor and toughness, but just didn’t see the ability for him to fly off the edge and beat NFL LTs. This year I see Quinton Coples struggling with college LTs. I don’t think he’s meant to play RDE. If you want him for LDE, go get him.
Character. Now this is really interesting stuff. Let’s hear from Howie first.
Through trial and error, the Eagles have learned over recent years that certain character traits or behaviors that might have sent up a red flag now might be looked at through a different prism.
“There’s been an evolution on the thinking on the character. I can’t tell you that we’ve got a clear-cut answer on it, but we’ve tried to make up some tiers of things that are acceptable and unacceptable,” Roseman said.
At its very essence, Roseman doesn’t want to penalize young, 20-year-old men for doing things that young, 20-year-old men do.
“You just want to make sure that you’re not punishing someone because they’re young and trying to have some fun in college and they weren’t doing anything that’s going to limit their potential in the NFL or affect their ability to be a good teammate or that they’re a bad person and they’re going to make bad decisions and put the organization at risk,” Roseman said.
It’s a “very thin” line, Roseman admits.
“You’re still dealing with really young people and people trying to find themselves,” he said. “That’s what makes the draft so tricky.”
The Eagles have passed on some talented prospects in recent years due to character concerns. Some of the players have had issues in the NFL while others have stayed completely out of trouble. This is an area where I think the Eagles are wise to be more open-minded. I want a Super Bowl, not a Norman Rockwell painting featuring the Philadelphia Eagles.
I am willing to have some kids with less than ideal backgrounds as long as they are the right kind of players. I don’t want high maintenance guys that can’t be relied on. If a guy is coachable and plays his tail off on Sundays, I can live with him not being a choirboy. You don’t want too many guys with issues, but mixing in a couple is okay. If the player has strong football character, I’m more open to off-field questions.
I do think it is important that Howie and the team are reviewing past drafts to see trends and errors. It can be easy to fall into a distinct way of doing things. I believe that the key to good writing is good editing. The same principle applies to drafting. Study what works and what doesn’t to see how you need to adapt. Find your mistakes. Learn from them. Don’t repeat them.
Should be really interesting to see what changes the Eagles make this year.
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Will Asante Samuel join the Mile High Club? He is now being linked to the Broncos. Reportedly Denver made a couple of offers. Go to BGN to read the full details.
There are plenty of teams that want Samuel. The tricky part is dealing with him and his agent. If Samuel will back off his demands a bit, I think the Eagles can work out a deal quickly and send him on his way.
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Mike Mayock had a pre-draft conference call today. He said that he thinks the only player the Eagles will move up for is SS Mark Barron. I think just the opposite, that the Eagles won’t have much interest at all. Mayock is wiser than me and has infinitely more connections (I can out-drink him!), but I do wonder about this scenario. I hope the Eagles are spreading the word that Barron is a target and that’s what Mayock is hearing, rather than legit info.
Mayock is down on Quinton Coples. He is very, very down on Vontaze Burfict.
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Donovan McNabb is back in the news. McNabb told an interviewer that he sees himself as a Hall of Fame QB. Uh, no. Since we’re a week from the draft this is the quick version.
Donovan is healthy. Donovan wants to play. 32 teams are NOT interested. That’s as simple and strong a case as I can make against him. Donovan says his stats compare favorably to some guys who are in the HOF. I think you guys know the old quote…there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. One of the PFT writers summed up the situation well. He said Donovan was unable to make the leap from good QB to great QB. I do agree with that.
This will be an excellent topic in June when we can really get into it, but I think Donovan hurts himself by stating his case. Did Jim Kelly ever have to do this? And I think asking to get in can backfire with some media members.