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Roseman's Take On Busy Draft Weekend

Posted May 10, 2014

On the second day of the NFL Draft, the Eagles addressed the offense, selecting wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, adding the duo to an already explosive offensive attack. On the draft's third and final day, the Eagles flipped the script, adding four defensive players.

At the conclusion of the draft, general manager Howie Roseman addressed why the Eagles elected to go defense with every pick on Saturday.

"I think the way our board went, it was probably a little bit more offensive players at the top," Roseman explained. "That wasn't by design, that was just how the board came out. And when we looked at it last night, on defense, there were a bunch of players that we liked. For us, we grade players differently. We grade players for our scheme, for our system. We grade players on intangibles and the chemistry and the culture that's important to us. Obviously the things that we're looking for are going to be different. Teams that run a 4 3 are looking for different players on offense and defense because they have different responsibilities. "

The Eagles started the day in the enviable position of having the first pick of the fourth round, allowing them to field offers from other teams and zero-in on who they might choose if they elected to keep the pick. Ultimately, the decision was made to hold on to the 101st overall pick and use it to take Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins.

"We weighed it, and you guys know one of the benefits," Roseman said. "I was joking last night that you always want to see what happens when you have the first pick in the round, but you're not so certain that if you get the opportunity to have a first pick in the round, you're actually going to be the person drafting there. We never want to be that team, but by the same token, it was interesting because you want to see what happens when you have that first pick during the day and have the whole night … For us with Jaylen, when we weighed all the factors about moving down, we just thought he was a very valuable player for us."

During the course of the day, the Eagles also traded a member of the roster, sending running back Bryce Brown to the Buffalo Bills. In exchange, the Eagles received either a 2015 fourth-round pick or a 2016 third- or fourth-round pick. The teams also exchanged seventh-round picks this year, allowing the Eagles to move up to draft Beau Allen.  

"I think it's a win win trade, and that's what you're looking for in this league," said Roseman. "A great opportunity for Bryce, and I think it was good for both sides … We weren't looking to dump him. I think that was part of what made this complicated was we thought he had value. From our perspective, and certainly mine, you drafted him, we saw how much talent he's had. We've seen him do it in the National Football League, so we didn't view him as expendable, but in this league if you have an opportunity to get value for guys, you've got to make that decision, and we thought that it was a win win situation, and then we liked our group there, and then I think in the next couple days we'll have an opportunity to add some talented guys to that group, as well."

Of course, this was the second draft in which Roseman worked side-by-side with Chip Kelly. An interesting discussion between the two men came about regarding fifth-round pick, and former Oregon Duck, Taylor Hart. Kelly wanted to take the defensive end (on whom the Eagles had a third-round grade) in the fourth round, but Roseman promised that the Oregon product would be there in the fifth, and luckily for both men, Roseman's hunch was correct.

"We would have taken him in the third," Kelly said Friday night. "We're fortunate. I think Howie [Roseman] did a great job of how we ordered it today. The other guy would be gone first, so let's take him. He guaranteed me Hart would be there in the fifth and he was right."

"We did have that third-round grade, and because you know half the teams don't run a 3 4, when we study other teams that run a 3 4, sometimes there is variation on the 3 4 scheme, so we just kind of looked at it," Roseman agreed. "You also kind of look at top-30 visits and who's worked them out privately. I felt like we had a good handle on Taylor and the teams that are interested in him, of the teams that are interested in him had they addressed that pick with a different player at that time, were they going to go back in the first four rounds and get the second guy.

"At the same time there's no insurance for that, and you're never 100 percent on that, but you've got to go with your gut and what you think."

Roseman and the Eagles elected to trade back in the first round and take outside linebacker Marcus Smith before the forecasted rush of teams taking pass rushers. Then in the second round, the Eagles traded up to grab Matthews. In both instances, Roseman was correct about the way teams would trend.

"It's what I believed on Friday was going to happen," said Roseman. "It's what I believed after making our pick and talking to people in the league, and I did sit a little taller in my chair after it happened.

"I would consider those two different circumstances (between Smith and Matthews) because with outside linebackers and pass rushers, people kind of push those up the board. With the wide receivers I felt like people were going to take who they wanted at that position, when there's that group of people they're going to have different tastes than those guys and we wanted Jordan Matthews. We didn't want to sit there and be at our pick and miss out on that guy because we felt his fit for us specifically was the right fit."

One of the biggest differences between the 2013 and 2014 drafts is where the Eagles were picking. After having the fourth-overall pick in last year's draft, the Eagles were all the way back to 22 this year. As a result, Roseman and the rest of the personnel staff were able to slightly alter their plan of action.

"It's funny, I did this about two weeks ago, and I looked, if we would have had the 22nd pick in last year's draft, and what you forget and hopefully we'll get used to it again, is that when you're picking later in the round, there's a lot more variables," said Roseman. "The first part of it is there are very seldom 32 first round talents in a draft, so at some point the board is going to drop off of first round talents, so where is that going to be? Some years it's at 12, some years it's at 17, some years it's at 25. It's all going to be based on what your description of that is and who you have highly rated. You know that's going to happen, especially when you're picking towards the back of the round, and it continues to go that way."

Roseman went on to explain the nuances on the team's draft board when factoring in "Best Player Available."
 
"You're not going to have 32 guys in the second round if you're true to your board and true to your descriptions of what you have on the board," Roseman explained. "That's why I talk about tiers because once you get past whatever the level is, and I don't want to use the first round just because I don't want it taken out of context, but if you're talking about the fourth round and you have 10 guys graded in the fourth round with the same description that you think are immediate role players and have a chance in two years to be solid starters, can I tell you who's seventh in that group and who's ninth with any accuracy? I can't. At that level we're saying all these guys are kind of in the same group.

"I just didn't think that I could stand in front of you guys and not tell the truth, which is that we do have groupings of guys. We do have tiers of guys, and in those tiers I don't know that our rankings from one to five are accurate, and so to say that that guy is the best player in that tier, I think they're all kind of the same grade, so I'd grade them kind of the same. But the question was asked directly to me just based on did you take exactly 1 or 2, and I said, no, they're in the same tier because that's how we kind of had them stacked."

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