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'Flexibility creates opportunity' for Eagles entering 2021 NFL Draft

For about 40 minutes on Wednesday, the Eagles previewed the 2021 NFL Draft with Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman, Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl, and Head Coach Nick Sirianni conducting a Zoom conference call and in one very brief instance, Roseman summed up the entire approach to this team's offseason when asked about the trade that bumped Philadelphia from the sixth overall pick in Round 1 on April 29 to No. 12 overall, plus adding a first-round pick in 2022 from Miami:

"Flexibility creates opportunity," Roseman said. "When you go back and look at things that are hard to acquire, that's one of the toughest things to acquire, a team's first-round pick in the following year.

"What we really had to do is sit there and go, who are the 12 best players in this draft that we would feel really good about? Are there 12 players in this draft that we really feel good about? That's what we're going to do throughout this draft. If you move back, it's because you feel like you have a bunch of guys that are the same value and to be really happy getting one and getting the extra volume from that pick. If you move up, it's because your board kind of drops off at that point.

"You have to feel like you're getting a premium and we felt like we were getting a premium to do that."

Looking for a strategy? There you go. Very simple, right? Very smart, too. The Eagles aren't tipping their hand one bit about their plans to add to the roster – both in the NFL Draft and with all the ways around the Draft to bring more talent onboard – whether Sirianni is asked about a particular body size or positional fit he and his coaching staff covets. The Eagles have provided themselves the chance to remake the roster in the span of these next two drafts armed with 20 total selections and a clear vision of exactly the kind of players they want to bring in for this new coaching staff to mold.

"It comes back to know what you're looking at and know what you're looking for," Weidl said. "We're an extension of the coaching staff, ultimately the scouts, and we want to go out and find the best players that best fit this program. They're going to come in and hit the ground and go.

"You're just trying to get the player right, and ultimately that's what we're trying to do is get the player right for the Philadelphia Eagles. When you have that alignment and everybody's in sync, great things are possible."

Otherwise, there wasn't much else to glean from Wednesday's update. Sirianni, who has just started the offseason program with his players – virtually, of course – didn't commit when asked if Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback at this point because, well, there is no depth chart, there is no game scheduled, and, heck, the players aren't even on the field yet. It's the same with every position, not just quarterback. Sirianni is implementing his core principles and one of them is competition throughout the roster. In the virtual world, Sirianni and his coaches have had to get creative in order to maximize the return of the Zoom pre-draft meetings with prospects. One tactic was challenging them to basic games to help gauge their competitive nature.

"I played a couple of them in rock-paper-scissors. It was as easy as that. Rock-paper-scissors. Let's see how competitive you are," Sirianni said. "When you compete with somebody that's competitive, they're going to go at you – no matter what, no matter what game you're playing."

Roseman said, as you would expect, that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to the draft because, again, the Eagles have that kind of flexibility to move back into the top 10 of Round 1 if they choose, or stay at 12, or move out of 12 and add more draft choices. He has had conversations with teams, as he has every year at this time, and the draft situation is very fluid.

It's clear Roseman and Weidl are pleased with where they are developing their draft strategy and aligning their draft board. We're still a week away here and, as we know, things are volatile around the league. Moves are being discussed in every corner of every draft room among the 32 teams. The Eagles are no different in that regard.

What is different for the Eagles is that they have the chance to maneuver as they wish following some drafts – 2018 and 2019, in particular – in which they had been limited by their lack of draft capital. Starting next Thursday, the Eagles will call their own shots – one pick on night one, three on night two, and seven on day three. This is going to be fun.

And what is clearly apparent is that the Eagles haven't locked into a single thing. They know they have needs across the board with this roster. They know they must have great success next weekend. So, that is the only focus.

"The process this year with the coaches, with the scouts, has allowed us to really sit down and talk about a lot of these things and figure out the best way to maximize our 11 picks in this draft," Roseman said. "We're really excited about the opportunity to add to this football team next week."

We saw Roseman, Weidl, and Sirianni together in the new world that is the Philadelphia Eagles, one that emphasizes teamwork and a new energy, a new environment at the NovaCare Complex. They appear to all be on the same page, no easy task with a new coaching staff and a changed dynamic that is the pre-draft scouting process in the NFL. As for what the Eagles might do in this draft, the task is abundantly clear: It is about bringing in young talent, developing that talent, and retaining it. Whether is it Round 1 or Round 7, every pick is valuable and every move is critical. The Eagles have been judicious and intelligent in free agency, helping themselves with five veteran additions on one-year contracts. Flexibility, remember.

The next step is the 2021 NFL Draft, wherever that may begin for the Eagles. In their minds, they are already, in a sense, on the clock.

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