The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is just a week away. Construction of the NFL Draft experience continues over on the Ben Franklin Parkway as excitement mounts both throughout the City of Philadelphia and throughout the rest of the NFL world.
On Thursday, Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas sat down with local reporters to offer a bit of insight into how the Eagles' draft board comes together and how things will play out heading into the draft weekend.
"For us, we've got to get to 14 players. We've got to put the first 14 guys on the board and be very comfortable with the 14th guy on our board, and that goes for every scenario," Roseman explained. "That goes for if there are zero quarterbacks drafted, if there's two quarterbacks drafted, just using a position that we're not going to take.
"Then we go through the scenarios of, 'Alright, our highest ranked guy is there at pick X. Are we moving up? If we're moving up, what are we trading for it? At the same time, you've got to be flexible. I think that's one of the things – We had a set amount, in the past, that we would trade for a guy and if the team asked for a little more than we'd be like, 'No, we're done.' Well if they ask for a little more, are we going to do that? I think that's one of the lessons that I've learned. It's not so much about winning the draft. It's about getting the right players for the Philadelphia Eagles."
This draft will be Douglas' first since joining the Eagles, after spending his career in player personnel with the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears. Douglas brings a bit of a different perspective to the Eagles, as the front office operates with a bit of different evaluation process than in previous years.
"I'll just say this, our system isn't based on rounds," Douglas explained. "Our system is based on the Philadelphia Eagles and exactly how that player fits the Philadelphia Eagles."
That concept was brought up multiple times by both Roseman and Douglas, and as the duo look to help this team reach its full potential, they explained that the pairing has been very smooth since Douglas joined the team last May.
"Since he's been here, have we done everything that I've wanted to do? No. Have we done everything that he wanted to do? No. But have we done everything that's right for the Philadelphia Eagles? Yes," Roseman said. "Some of that is humbling when you have to admit mistakes. We want to do whatever it takes to bring a winning product to this city, and we feel like we have a lot of responsibility to the people who work in the building, on and off the field, to our fans, and we're committed to doing whatever it takes to do that in the long term in building a team that everyone's proud of."
Building a draft board is no simple task. Months and months of evaluations go into putting together the blueprint for which direction the team goes into during the draft, but the big picture is always kept in mind as well. Last season, Roseman spoke about how looking ahead to future draft classes impacted the team's decision to trade up for Carson Wentz. The team will once again take that same approach into next weekend.
"We have done that for a couple of positions to make sure that we're not sitting there saying this position is so great, and then look next year and go, 'Wait a minute, it's pretty good next year too. Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves.' We've done that to a couple of positions in this draft that were know are strong. We've looked ahead and said, 'Is it uniquely strong or is it really just a position where every year there are guys coming out?'"
In building these evaluations, a prospect's character and off-the-field makeup is also taken into account, according to Roseman. Without getting into specific players, Roseman explained the case-by-case approach that the Eagles go through with each prospect.
"It starts with Joe and his staff," Roseman said. "They do a great job of getting background and digging and putting in the resources in the fall to find out as much as they can. Joe can probably talk better about this, but if there is an issue with the guy, we'll send more scouts there in the fall to meet with their sources, and then after the season, once we get to the all-star games, once we get to the Combine, our security team comes into play, led by (vice president of team security) Dom (DiSandro), who does a tremendous job of finding out as much as possible about these guys, presenting us the information, and saying, 'This is what I think. This is what I know,' and then we make a decision from there."
After all of the buildup that goes into the NFL Draft and all of the months of hard work that occur behind the scenes, the draft is now just a handful of days away. Roseman is very excited about the opportunity to add another group of talented players to the Eagles roster.
"It's been fun, but at the end of the day we're just really excited about next weekend and the opportunity to improve the team," Roseman said. "We're excited about some of the things we did in free agency. We're excited about the players being back in the building. It's a fun time of year."