The biggest quirk of the upcoming draft in this work stoppage environment is that teams will be drafting incoming rookies before certain needs have been filled through free agency. The old template was that teams would use free agency to address any glaring holes, allowing them to use the draft to obtain the most value. This year, some thought was given to the notion that teams would be forced to focus slightly more on need. But Eagles general manager Howie Roseman says it's just the opposite.
"I think that you're able to go and get the best players regardless of positions, because at some point you're going to have another avenue to address those needs and fill them," said Roseman in an hour-long sit-down with reporters one week ahead of the draft. "So usually at this time of year, you've gone through free agency, the bulk of the players have been signed and you go into the draft saying, 'I still don't have this. For us to compete at the highest level, we probably have to fill that.' Now, you're kind of open. You can take anyone, and then eventually when it comes around, those other avenues to address, if I need something on a short-term basis I can go get it."
And that's good news for Roseman and a tireless personnel staff that has spent so long scouting prospects and maneuvering the team's draft board to assess the ability of the incoming players as best they can. Best player available is, without question, a philosophy Roseman subscribes to, but it's not based on a cut-and-dry, top-to-bottom ranking of prospects.
"If you have guys that are similarly rated, they're very close and maybe you have the same grade on a guy, then that's a different situation," he said. "Then maybe you look and you think about the impact that guy can make. But if there's a difference in grade, we're going to take the best player. In this game, we've seen that things can change very quickly and if you look back two years from now and you've missed at a position that's pretty deep and now you're in the position where you have to take a guy; that to us would be the worst possible outcome."
With that in mind, Roseman and crew have gone through extensive preparations for any possible outcome with the 23rd pick in the first round. They've interviewed players, re-watched hours and hours of game film, and they've talked through the mock draft scenarios - though Roseman cautioned that they don't aim to perfectly match players and teams, but rather focus on which players could possibly be available. And keeping in mind that the Eagles have moved either up or down from their original first-round draft slot in each of the previous four drafts, that could once again be in the cards.
"We're open to explore any options that we think make us better, and whether that's moving up or moving down, we're definitely open," Roseman said.
And with a lot of growing buzz about the possibility of as many as seven quarterbacks being considered for first-round consideration, the Eagles could be in prime position to cash in.
"Especially where we are in the first round, I think that's where you anticipate some of the quarterbacks coming up," Roseman said. "Obviously we're a great place in the draft to get some of those quarterbacks where they're slotted to go if someone wants to come up and get some of those quarterbacks."