The NFL Draft, the league’s most impactful offseason event, begins next Thursday and the Eagles have an opportunity to build to an already-talented roster with three selections among the first 57, with seven picks in all. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas made their annual media rounds on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, obviously staying close to the vest on information but also expressing the understanding of the opportunity immediately in front of them.
“We have a lot of opportunity here with three picks in the top 57 to really get our kind of guy and get some difference makers in here,” said Douglas, the Eagles’ vice president of personnel. “So, yeah, it's a very important draft.”
They are all important drafts, providing the foundation of the team’s roster. The Eagles were able to use free agency to build up the roster to the point where, as Roseman said on Tuesday, “We can go play right now. And we think we're a pretty good team. So we go into the draft knowing that we don't have anything we have to do that we have to fill at any position. And this is based on what's best for the long-term interests of our football team.”
If you thought Roseman and Douglas were going to spill the beans on the team’s draft intentions on Tuesday, well, you haven’t been around for very long. This is the time of the year when teams are either saying nothing or saying things they don’t really mean. A process that started 12 months ago, literally, isn’t about to be thrown off the rails by loose lips. The Eagles are dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s with the draft next week.
But it’s fair to say this: Nobody other than Roseman and Douglas and only a few others, truly have an idea of where the Eagles might concentrate their efforts in the draft. They’ve done a terrific job maneuvering in free agency. They’ve got a roster that is 72 players strong. The goal is to create competition at every position, to make it difficult when the roster is cut down to 53 players. Having a coaching staff intact and a personnel department that’s been together for three years now and an open-door policy with constructively critical feedback and opinions encouraged, it all plays into the draft weekend.
The Eagles want to nail this draft and then step back and see what the roster looks like heading into the spring Organized Team Activities.
“I think we have a lot of talent on this team. I think our roster is really good. I think there's a part of getting younger but to get younger just for the sake of getting younger doesn't make a lot of sense to us,” Roseman said. “We're looking for good players. And we have a lot of good players. We have a lot of players under long-term contracts. A lot of our core players are under long-term contracts that are true Eagles. I think the way we built this team makes a lot of sense, and I don't think there's any undue pressure on the picks that we have right now. We understand that the draft is a crapshoot. We're not going to go seven for seven on picks.
“So I think that at the end of the day we're going to stick to our process. We're going to be right more than we're going to be wrong. But we have a good process. We have a good team and we're going to continue to do that going forward and make sure we have a team that we're proud of and the city's proud of.”
And with that, radio silence. It’s that time of the year, when the work is done largely behind closed doors as Roseman gets a sense of the league and what might be out there via trade, what teams are thinking, how the board may fall. The Eagles want to run through every possible scenario and prepare themselves for every and any possibility that might pop up on draft weekend. The time to strike is nearly here. A year’s worth of work comes together next weekend.
The Eagles are in crunch time, along with the rest of the NFL. Roseman and Douglas are united, determined to bolster an already-strong roster and put the Eagles in a strong position for 2019 and years to come.