Philadelphia Eagles News

Combine kicks off critical roster-building season for Eagles

INDIANAPOLIS – In the span of the next several days – through Monday – the Eagles are going to sit with as many as 60 prospective draft picks in 15-minute increments for personal interviews, will watch the prospects in various athletic events, and will gain as much information as possible to evaluate the players leading into late April's NFL Draft.

And then the NFL Scouting Combine will end.

And the NFL's free-agency period will begin. It's all happening very quickly after a long offseason that has developed slowly leading to this point.

"It's always important to take a step back and get some perspective about some of the things that went right and some of the things that maybe didn't go the way that you anticipated," Howie Roseman said, "continue to understand the talent and possibly the deficiencies on your football team. You can't really make decisions unless you know what you have.

"The first step in our process is knowing our football team backwards and forwards and making sure that we're evaluating it both objectively and subjectively. That's what this time really does."

The NFL Scouting Combine is a special time, though, for it's the first time in the offseason that the entire league comes together. All of the NFL's head coaches, general managers, and key football decision-makers gather as the draft prospects are run through the gauntlet of a variety of physical tests, and then the teams conduct their interviews.

Along with that, the teams are informally talking to each other and, in some cases, loose frameworks for trades are sometimes constructed.

"We wake up and we go to the dome (Lucas Oil Stadium) and we watch workouts all day and then those workouts end and basically we turn around and go to interviews and we're usually not done with those until 10:45, 11 o'clock at night," Roseman said. "It's constant. It's constant information from the medical staff about players as they evaluate them. Constant evaluation from your coaching staff about guys who maybe aren't in our 'top 60' interviews ... constant communication with people throughout the league about potentially available players. Communication with agents about players on our team that we're interested in re-signing.

"It's a busy time, but it's a fun time because it really starts the process of building your 2019 football team."

Head coach Doug Pederson subscribes to the theory of adding character players, so the background checks and the information the Eagles gather is extremely important. Pederson likes the apples-to-apples evaluation aspect the Combine provides, but he also puts a lot of stock in draft prospects' on-field performance from college.

At the end of the day, the players have to make plays.

"I think as football players you still have to go off their body of work and who they are as football players and who they are as men. Character becomes an issue, obviously," Pederson said. "For the most part, these kids are really good kids. They've been taught well. Obviously, it's the cream of the crop, so to speak, so we understand that their skill set is very valuable to their (college) team and hopefully to one of the 32 teams in the NFL."

Once the Combine ends, the Eagles will return to the NovaCare Complex and meet and review and plan for the start of free agency on March 13 as well as the NFL Draft in late April. The team will invite draft prospects to the NovaCare Complex for more in-depth interviews and person-to-person sessions and then we'll be in the heart of the roster-shaping portion of the offseason.

"It comes quickly, but we'll be ready with our plan," Pederson said. "We're in a good place. We know we have to have some changes with our roster, but that's the way it is every year. This time here is so important to get to know the players, to spend some time with them. That's really the most valuable part of the Combine."

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