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Feeling Draft Winds As May 8 Nears

Posted May 1, 2014

He does a really good job of engaging the media and saying just enough to give reporters something to talk about, but not enough to spill secrets. It's "go" time for Howie Roseman and the Eagles ...

He does a really good job of engaging the media and saying just enough to give reporters something to talk about, but not enough to spill secrets. It's "go" time for Howie Roseman and the Eagles ...

It was Media Tour day for Roseman on Thursday, one week before the start of the 2014 NFL draft. Roseman spoke for 50 minutes with reporters in a conference room at the NovaCare Complex, answering every question imaginable during that time, and then he stood in front of the cameras for another 15 minutes answering a round of questions and then did various one-offs with media outlets eager to gather any kind of hint of what the Eagles might do in the May 8-10 draft.

Roseman is a veteran of these sessions, so he knows what to say and what not to say. Some takeaways before moving into the What I Think I Think portion of the story ...

  • The Eagles are going to stay away from the idea of "we need to fill this position or that position" in the draft. They want to take good players, add to the young core of the roster, and continue to develop the roster. Mistakes have been made in the past "reaching" for players to fill positions of need. Roseman ran strong drafts in 2012 and 2013 by staying true to the draft board. That's going to be the approach next week.

  • Wide receiver is the strength of the draft. No doubt about that. I'm not even sure, based on what Roseman said throughout the morning, that another position is very close although offensive tackle is strong at top of the first round. Starting-caliber wide receivers will be on draft boards into the fourth round, although there is a significant separation between the elite 2-3 receivers and the various tiers of receivers thereafter.

  • "Quality is going to trump quantity," was a key message from Roseman, who was asked repeatedly about having six selections. The Eagles, and every team, want as many picks as they can have, but the goal for the Eagles is to maximize the picks they have, no matter how many. Does that mean the Eagles will be reluctant to trade pieces to acquire more draft picks? No, but they aren't going to make unfavorable deals to add picks.

  • The team looks at its outside linebacker/pass rush positions with promise. Trent Cole came on strong last year. Connor Barwin is a standout and is versatile enough to do whatever the Eagles ask. Brandon Graham improved greatly late in the season and has been a huge plus in the offseason conditioning program -- which Roseman said had 100 percent attendance -- and some young players, including Travis Long, bear some watching. Long spent last season on the practice squad after suffering a knee injury late in his very successful career at Washington State.

  • Is there a safety in the draft the Eagles might jump on? Maybe, but Roseman said "I don't think it's a good group overall." Not an encouraging overview, but you never know what is smoke and what is real at this time of the year. Still ...

Now, for the What I Think I Think stuff ...

  • I think the Eagles are not going to limit their options at all in the first round. Can they move up into the top 10 or top 15? That will be very, very difficult. Could they move back? Possible, indeed. Roseman has proven to be a wheeler and a dealer in his time here, and this opportunity is no different.

  • Do the Eagles know at this very instant who they are going to draft in Round 1? No. But they aren't tinkering with the top of their board, so they likely have a grouping of 3-5 players from whom they can choose.

  • You can feel confident that the Eagles will draft at least one wide receiver next weekend. More than one? Not so sure about that ...

  • If you think the Eagles are going to emerge from next weekend feeling like they have 22 Pro Bowl players lined up as starters on the spring depth chart, think again. The defense is still a few players away. Another solid draft adds to the core, but it doesn't necessarily put the Eagles in the same talent category defensively as, say, Seattle. It's going to take another year, if all goes according to plan.

  • Roseman has assembled a very talented personnel staff, including vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble, director of college scouting Anthony Patch, player personnel executive Rick Mueller and assistant director of player personnel Ed Marynowitz. Senior football advisor Tom Donahoe brings a wealth of experience and scouts Andy Speyer, Mike Bradway, Brad Obee, Matthew Lindsey, Alan Wolking, Michael Davis, Trey Brown, Bret Munsey, Louis Clark and Ryan Myers make up the scouting department. It's a good one. You will see some of the results next weekend.

  • How do the Eagles improve the defense? I don't have a sense for how the Eagles feel about the edge pass rushers in this draft. I just don't know. A safety? Doesn't sound like it in the first round, and the Eagles are sincere when they say how high they are on Malcolm Jenkins bringing some versatility and athletic ability to the deep secondary and they like what they've seen from Earl Wolff in the conditioning program. A handful of draft picks, at least, will be spent on the defense. That's my guess.

  • A quarterback in round one? That would be a stunner, for sure. But if the Eagles have a choice of quarterbacks at 22 and teams come calling to move into 22 to make a pick, it would be a nice way to trade out of 22, move back later in the first round, and add some draft picks.

  • The truth is, after hearing Roseman for all of Thursday morning, I don't have a sense of the players the Eagles want to draft. Roseman did his job, and he did it well. There should be a cloud of secrecy at this point, and the Eagles have shrouded their intentions very nicely.

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