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Crunch Time For Reid, Eagles

They've been at this since May, winnowing down the draft prospects, funneling the talent and identifying who they really, truly want to take on April 28-30. For Reid, well, he probably has a couple, maybe three, players he can say, right here and right now, that he will consider when the Eagles pick 23rd in two Thursdays. Of course, that all goes out the window should the Eagles move up in the first round.

Or down, deeper into the round or into the second round.

Reid is in his NovaCare Complex office late on Friday afternoon. He is in a relaxed mood, understanding that all the work he has done in preparation for the draft leads up to what is ahead: A two-week grind that eliminates any doubts, reinforces all beliefs and provides the exclamation mark in the Eagles' draft preparation. Reid sends his entire coaching staff on vacation for the week ahead so that he and Roseman can hammer down the nails of the draft labor.

"I love it," said Reid. "I love this time of the year. It's a lot of hard work, but we're ready for it. Howie is right there, evaluating, preparing, asking the right questions and doing a great job. He preps me. Without him, nothing gets done. He is the coordinator. He calls the plays. This is his time. "

Reid acknowledges that "it's hard to do a mock draft when you're sitting at 23." He says the Eagles will predict, fairly accurately, the top 10 of the draft. Then from 10 to 15 it becomes more difficult. "Tangled," Reid calls it. And then after that, the Eagles will select from a group of 18 to 20 players that they like, that they have first-round grades on, that they are fairly certain will be on the board at 23.

In other words, those players whom the Eagles think will go in the top five are not likely to be on that list.

For four straight seasons the Eagles have traded out of their pre-draft spot in the first round. Twice they moved out of the first round. Twice they moved up in the first round. In the case of Jeremy Maclin in 2009, the Eagles had no intentions heading into the draft of taking Maclin. But he kept falling and falling and then Oakland selected Darius Heyward-Bey and no other teams really needed a wide receiver, so the Eagles moved up and got themselves a standout wide receiver.

Last year, the Eagles had targeted defensive end Brandon Graham and they moved up at the time they felt they could move and got a young player they still think, after his difficult injury in his rookie campaign, is going to be a terrific player.

So, the truth is, you never know. And with just a tick under two weeks to go before the draft, Reid and the Eagles are covering every base.

"As you get closer to the draft, guys talk. And you find out what teams are willing to move out of certain spots. People are very open with that," said Reid. "This is one of those deals in which you have brothers lying to brothers about the draft normally, but in this situation, everyone is sharing information about moving up or down in the draft. You get an idea of what it would take to move up or move out.

"Last year at this time, we were closing in on Brandon. At this time, you have different stacks at positions and you have to sort them out and give them a number. Then you have a stack that goes the other way, by round, and you have to sort that out. And you play mental gymnastics. 'Would I take this guy?' At the end, you say, 'Boy, I'd really like to get this guy' and you say, 'If we have to move up an inch to get him, we will.'

"You do that with just about every player. You have an idea of what other teams are going to do, so you set forth the options you are going to be presented with."

The Eagles, Reid believes, don't have a large number of holes to fill. There are needs, no question, but the Eagles aren't plugging massive leaks in the foundation. This is a 10-win team with a young nucleus that has an extremely bright present and future. The draft is the cornerstone for every team and the Eagles are going in thinking they can get some immediate impact.

It takes five years to properly judge a draft, says Reid. And the Eagles do pay attention and grade themselves and hold themselves accountable for their draft hits and misses.

"We're hard on ourselves and we try to learn from the mistakes we made," said Reid. "Each scout grades himself we crosscheck and learn and get better and grow. I think Howie does a tremendous job along with Ryan Grigson (director of player personnel) and the staff on the college side. Howie is very organized and he is a tremendous communicator. His guys attack the country and find these players. When it's time for free agency, we'll be ready with Louis Riddick (director of pro personnel) making sure we are completely prepared.

"I like the way our board looks. There is a lot of talent in this draft. We're going to get some good players."

As for clues, well, you know the way it goes with Reid. Not much there. I've interviewed him an hour before a draft starts and then have been shocked at a move the Eagles made in the first round. The only thing predictable is that the Eagles are as unpredictable as any team in the league.

"We think we have a good foundation and a good football team," said Reid. "The draft is the opportunity to get better, but you have to hit your mark. We have identified players we like in the draft, and we're going to keep looking at it until it is time to go. We aren't going to reach for a player or take a player at a position of perceived need. We're going to draft good football players who help this team win."

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