A Time To Celebrate In Draft Room

An NFL draft room is a sacred space, sealed off from save the few who are involved in the process of making draft selections. For the Eagles on Thursday, however, it was an all-inclusive celebration, a time to share a special moment.

From the moment Commissioner Roger Goodell opened the 2016 NFL Draft and announced that the Los Angeles Rams were on the clock, the Eagles' draft room on the second floor of the NovaCare Complex buzzed with excited energy and electricity. There were two players and two picks to be considered. The Eagles had the second pick and the first two players off the board were going to be California quarterback Jared Goff and North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, in whatever order.

"We were 99.999 percent sure we were getting Carson," Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said a few moments after the Eagles made their pick. "Can't wait to get Carson into Philadelphia and this building because of his energy and his positive nature. He wants to be great and he's got a great opportunity."

The room was relatively silent as Goodell returned to the podium to announce the Rams' selection after Los Angeles took the entire 10 minutes of clock time to turn their card in to the Commissioner. Goodell said Goff's name, and the Eagles in the room -- Lurie, Howie Roseman, head coach Doug Pederson and some in the personnel department, exchanged high-fives and smiles.

Roseman then took control of the room and made sure to invite every coach on the staff and every scout and member of the personnel department into the room as he made the call to Wentz.

"Ready to be an Eagle?" Roseman said excitedly. "We're ready to have you here." 

Roseman, Lurie, Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo jumped on the line to congratulate Wentz and welcome him to the team as the room waited for television to make the announcement to the world.

Once Goodell said, "With the second pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select ..." the room exploded with hugs and backslaps and high-fives and handshakes.

"It feels great," Lurie said. "If you want to be great, you've got to take risks. The months and months of research on Wentz and Goff and all of the quarterbacks, it just showed us that were two really great prospects at the top of the draft. That doesn't happen too often. It even happens less often that you have an option to go up and get one of them ... This was a rare, rare opportunity. You never know. But if you don't take a chance at having a great franchise quarterback, then you're really not taking a risk for greatness. That's what this is all about."

Jubilation. Months of hard work resulted in the Eagles sitting at No. 2 in the first round, waiting on the Rams and gladly taking Wentz, the young man they feel so great about.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich played 12 seasons in the NFL, has been a coach for 13 seasons and he is fired up to have Wentz on board.

"I'm very excited," Reich said. "To get a player like Carson, I just think he fits with Doug's offense, with this organization. I think this is the right place for him to grow. He brings the kinds of qualities, not just as a quarterback, but as a player, that you really look for. And that really for us, as a coaching staff and as an organization, starts with toughness, physical and mental toughness."

There are times when the pick is made and the reaction is reserved. In this case, there was nothing to mute. The Eagles were thrilled to get Wentz, who they spent more time with, said Roseman, than any potential draft pick that he could remember. For the standpoint of Reich, who was part of the process every step of the way, getting Wentz into the film room prior to the draft to diagnose some plays and assess his football intelligence was a huge selling point.

"You really put him through the grinder and you test him in a lot of ways. To say that he was off the charts would be an understatement really," Reich said. "He did such a great job when we watched the film with him and when we would test him with plays and concepts, give him homework and kind of test him on it. It was really quite impressive."

In so many ways for Lurie, Thursday night was a throwback to 1999 when new head coach Andy Reid selected Donovan McNabb with the second pick in the NFL Draft and McNabb went on to become the greatest quarterback in franchise history.

History feels so much like it is happening all over again.

"That's the closest comparison," Lurie said. "There we didn't have to move up to get Donovan. It was a clear thing where we realized Donovan was the quarterback we wanted. In this case we were very happy with Carson, with Jared, two terrific young quarterbacks staring at it, so it was a little different. To be able to accomplish that in the offseason, to be able to move up from 13 to 8 and 8 to 2, it's hard, it's complicated. You've got to have cooperating teams. It doesn't happen often. When it can happen, you've got to take advantage of it. You've got to go for it."

The Eagles went for it and they celebrated on Thursday. It was an historic moment, and Lurie and Roseman and Pederson and all the coaches and scouts and those who helped it happen basked in the moment.

"I feel great about it," Pederson said as he left the draft room and prepared for the Philadelphia media and the questions. "We are thrilled to death to have Carson Wentz and the caliber of player that he is here with us. Can't wait to get him in the building and get him started. This was a big, big night for us."

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