Howie Roseman has now run the last 3 Eagles drafts.We’re starting to get an idea of how he does things and there is enough of a track record that we can make some judgments. I’m sure some of you will say “But what about waiting 3 years to see how the players turn out?”. That’s not all on the GM and scouts. A lot of that is on the coaching staff, in terms of player development and how they use the players. The focus with the GM is how he handles the actual draft.
Normally I would save this subject for a quiet time in June, but it just so happens that Peter King wrote a bit about the Eagles and Roseman this week.
As we look at the NFL draft with some perspective now, the one pick that fascinates me is number 22. And not just because Johnny Manziel got taken there, but because there was such heated competition for the pick.
An impeccable NFL source told me this on Monday night:
- The Eagles, who held the 22nd pick in the draft, informed teams after several players they loved at 22 were snatched—LSU wideout Odell Beckham, who went 12th to the Giants, and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, who went 14th to Chicago, among others—that they were auctioning the choice.
- Six teams inquired about pick number 22. Philadelphia got four solid offers.
- Though it was reported by Jay Glazer that the Vikings and Browns jousted for the 22nd pick (absolutely true), they were not alone. The source said that another team, not Minnesota, was the leader in the clubhouse when Eagles GM Howie Roseman told Cleveland GM Ray Farmer with three minutes left in the 10-minute draft period that he had to make a better offer than the one Cleveland had on the table.
- Minnesota and Cleveland wanted Johnny Manziel. But it’s clear that the second-place finisher, which already had a good quarterback, wanted another player at 22. I wish I knew that other team. I do not. I don’t believe it is Houston.
- Cleveland, as I reported Monday in my column, did sweeten its offer to move up from 26 to 22, by improving its last offer to the 26th pick and 83rd overall. (I don’t know what Cleveland’s offer was before this, but GM Ray Farmer had less than 30 seconds to improve it to Philadelphia’s satisfaction, and he did.)
- If Farmer didn’t include the mid-third-round pick in the deal, Philadelphia absolutely would have made the deal with Team Unknown for the 22nd pick. Cleveland would have had to move on. In that case, Cleveland would have called Kansas City at 23 and Cincinnati at 24 to try to get a deal done. I am told Kansas City would have been receptive to an offer for the 23rd pick, but Cincinnati, in love with cornerback Darqueze Dennard, would have held onto the pick.
- The finish line: Cleveland won. The anonymous team seeking a player other than Manziel finished second. Minnesota was third—obviously because the Vikings didn’t want to include the 2015 first-round pick. (I don’t blame them.) The Eagles would have likely made that trade knowing the three or four players they liked at 22 would have been gone at 40. And another anonymous team finished fourth.
Very interesting stuff. It sure sounds like Roseman did a terrific job of getting as much compensation as possible. He was in negotiations with multiple teams and it sounds like he treated everyone fairly. That can be tough. You want to give everyone a chance, but you are dealing with time restrictions that put enormous pressure on all parties involved.
Roseman pulled off other deals during the draft and got good return on all of them. That’s not always going to be the case. When you deal from a position of strength you can get what you want. There are other times when that isn’t the case (see the DeSean Jackson situation). You don’t want a GM who is too greedy and looks for the perfect offer every time, but you also don’t want someone that settles too quickly.
Even if you don’t love the Eagles picks, you should still appreciate the job Roseman did with moving around and getting good value in the deals.
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As for the picks, this year’s draft was more complicated than the previous 2 since the Eagles were picking later in the round. Identifying targets at pick 4 or pick 15 are much easier than doing it at pick 22, especially with such confusion about which QBs would go where. Based on comments by Roseman and Kelly, the Eagles had 6 players they hoped would fall or they might even be willing to move up for if the price was right. Those 6 players all were gone when pick 22 came up.
This is where the discussion gets difficult. We have to mix speculation with fact and try to come away with a reasonable explanation. It doesn’t sound like the Eagles had any other players graded as 1st rounders at that point. The object then is to move back as far as you can and then take the highest rated player on your board. That won’t make the values perfect, but the draft is an imperfect situation.
The Eagles looked at their board. Marcus Smith is the player they wanted. There weren’t any other pass rushers slotted in that area so if they lost him, they would have had to go in another direction. And the choices in other rounds were far from ideal. This is when Howie started shopping the pick, with the idea that he wouldn’t move too far back if possible.
The Football Gods smiled upon the Eagles and gave them a 3rd round pick and only forced them to move back 4 spots. They were able to get the player they wanted and had the extra pick to help out. Thank god for Johnny Football. Teams wanting him drove up the price, which is a scenario we talked about prior to the draft.
In the 2nd round, the Eagles moved up to draft Jordan Matthews. They dealt a 4th rounder to jump up and get their guy. If you don’t like Matthews all that much, you won’t like the move. I like the fact they felt strongly about a player and went after him aggressively. Matthews wasn’t my favorite player, but Kelly raved about his intangibles and how impressive he was on the visit to the NovaCare. If we’d known those stories before the draft, we might have been screaming for the Eagles to take Matthews at 22.
Roseman then dealt pick 83 to the Texans for the first pick of the 4th and 5th rounds. The Eagles were hoping they could then spin that 4th round pick into even more. The 4th round starts Saturday at noon. That gives teams a lot of time to talk about deals. The Eagles were hoping to drop back a few spots and pick up a 6th or 7th round pick.
There was one small problem.
The Eagles really wanted Jaylen Watkins. This was another guy they didn’t want to risk losing. I’m betting they only were willing to move back 3 or 4 spots. When those teams didn’t want to move up, the Eagles decided to just take their guy. I like the thought process here. They weren’t just trying to add picks for the sake of it. They focused on certain players. They weighed the risk/reward factors and decided when to be aggressive and when to just take their targets.
The Eagles stayed put and took Taylor Hart, Ed Reynolds and Beau Allen with their final 3 picks. I would love to talk to Howie about the final pick. I was on Twitter typing my wish list a few spots prior to the Eagles pick and the first named I mentioned was DL Shamar Stephen. Before I could post that, the Vikings used pick 220 on him. Kelly admitted later that’s the player the Eagles wanted.
Beau Allen was good value and a good fit. The Eagles needed a backup NT. But Stephen was a clearly better player. He showed good ability at the Senior Bowl. He could have been a backup at LDE and NT. I wonder if the Eagles considered moving up for him or if they just rolled the dice since both he and Allen were left. Allen is a good consolation prize, but Stephen was the preferred player.
Would I have given up a 2015 7th rounder to get Stephen? Yes. I just thought he was good value and a terrific fit for what the Eagles needed. The Eagles might have tried to move up. We have no idea. Just because you offer it doesn’t mean the other team will say yes.
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I think Howie Roseman just had his best draft yet, in terms of how he handled the situation. He got creative at times. He was aggressive at some spots and conservative at others. He didn’t wheel and deal for the heck of it. He made calculated moves that landed players the Eagles wanted. We know this because the Eagles showed interest in all of these guys before the draft. All but Huff made a visit to Philly, and obviously he and Kelly already had a strong relationship.
Time will tell if the picks pan out. We know some of them won’t. The numbers prove that. Guys get injured. Guys get lost in the shuffle. Some just can’t handle the NFL. If you believe Spinal Tap, some prospects will just spontaneously combust, leaving only a tiny green globule.
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So what were your thoughts on how Howie did? Some of you aren’t his biggest fans. Is Howie growing on you?