The Philadelphia Eagles took a disciplined approach to the 2013 NFL Draft and came away with eight players who will help shape the vision that new head coach Chip Kelly has for this football team. From the No. 4 overall pick in offensive tackle Lane Johnson to defensive lineman David King in the seventh round, the Eagles stressed the philosophy of selecting the best player available. Tangible proof of that mantra was evident when the Eagles moved up to begin day three of the NFL Draft and select quarterback Matt Barkley with the No. 98 overall pick. Kelly said that Barkley was rated as a Top 50 player by the Eagles and was clearly the best player on the board.
"I feel very confident that we stuck to the best player available in every round of this draft and sometimes when you're there you want certain things and you want to come out of a round with certain things or a draft with certain things, but that takes away the process and you have to be disciplined," general manager Howie Roseman said. "I think that's part of the benefit of some of the things we did in free agency is we addressed some things that we needed. We spent a lot of time talking about want-to and have-to. We felt like to build this team the right way and to get it back to where we want to be consistently, we have to be very disciplined in the draft and that started (in this draft)."
The Eagles also did not panic when players they had rated highly were being selected. In the case of fifth-round pick, safety Earl Wolff, the Eagles had four players they targeted at that spot, but three of them were selected well before the Eagles were on the clock. Instead of mortgaging future picks to move up, the Eagles remained steadfast and were quite pleased Wolff was still available at their spot.
"We're always conscious of trading away future picks. That's not something we've ever been in the habit of doing and that's not something we believe in here unless there are unique circumstances," Roseman said. "That was nothing we ever really looked into. You're always looking for opportunities, you're looking for value, it just so happened that it didn't work out much this year but we're always open to it."
Roseman has been aggressive in the draft room, but when the Eagles were without a sixth-round draft choice and had to wait 76 selections in between picks they exhibited patience and came away with two players - defensive end/outside linebacker Joe Kruger and cornerback Jordan Poyer - to start the seventh round who were rated much higher by the Eagles.
Here are some of Roseman's quotes regarding other aspects of the 2013 Eagles' draft ...
On tracking the development of first-round pick Lane Johnson: "He was a guy that we had followed as a junior and his progression, you're always looking for guys with unique stories and obviously he's a guy with a unique story and the athletic skill set. Having Jason Peters and seeing someone make that transition, you're always hopeful you're going to find another guy with that sort of athletic ability. So watching him as a junior progress through the season and then ace the whole offseason process and then you get a complete picture of who's in the draft, then all your grades, they come through and in the last few weeks we spent a lot of time working our way up to the top of the draft and focusing on our ordering."
On whether the Eagles' draft resolved misperceptions regarding what Chip Kelly wants: "He believes defense wins championships as well and that doesn't mean he doesn't want to have a dynamic offense, an explosive offense and score points. He understands that you have to be balanced somewhat to win in this league."
On whether the Eagles have built a more physical defense: "Well, certainly that was one of the messages that we wanted to send to our football team is getting guys in who are long and physical and tough. That really reflects the city that we're in, and we want to get back to playing that kind of defense. Looking at it and going back and reflecting on it tonight and the next couple of nights, I'll probably be better able to answer that question."
On working in the draft room with Chip Kelly: "I was really fortunate to be with coach (Andy) Reid for so long and have that relationship with him and you always wonder how it's going to be with the next guy. Really, just from day one, it's been easy, it's flowed easy, our priorities have been in line and a part of that's the interview process and sitting down with someone and talking about the team and building a team. That's part of the reason that it's been so easy, because when we sat down and talked about it, we were on the same page. That doesn't mean we don't see some things differently and have those discussions, but it's been really good. With a lot of new people really, it's been really good."
On selecting players who Chip Kelly faced while at Oregon: "It doesn't take long to put on the tape of Zach Ertz and see that he can be an incredible mismatch as a tight end. You can play against him in Autzen Stadium, or you can sit in the NovaCare Complex and put on the tape and you see that. At the same time, it doesn't take long to get around Bennie Logan and see he's a man. So, I think that obviously it's easy for him to go and say after we talked about Zach Ertz, 'Yeah, I played against him; I know what it's like,' but it's got to start the process at a certain point where we have liked him and then we're bringing him to him and saying 'Coach, I really like this guy,' and he says, 'Oh, I know everything about Zach Ertz.'
"Then it goes from there. But we didn't go into this draft saying let's go get players that you played against, let's go get players that you recruited; we went in and said let's go get the best players. If they're from the SEC, the Pac-12, or from the ACC, let's find the best players, let's draft them like we ranked them, and let's have a heck of a draft."
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