Depending on what you believe from everything you have heard, the Eagles are either really, really interested in moving into position to take their next "franchise" quarterback, or they are pleased to have added veteran Trent Edwards to a position that begins with Michael Vick, includes Mike Kafka and is teeming with questions.
When asked about the Eagles' supposed interest in a couple of the headline quarterbacks in the draft, general manager Howie Roseman is professionally vague.
"We're always looking for good quarterbacks," says Roseman.
That's certainly true, and the Eagles have, in the Andy Reid era, always been well stocked at the game's most important position. The position the team is in right now is better than most teams enjoy, starting with Vick and his big-play skills, leadership abilities and dynamism under any circumstance. The Eagles believe that Vick, with his first full off-season as the team's starting quarterback, will benefit greatly from three months spent nearly every day at the NovaCare Complex.
Kafka moves into the No. 2 role for the first time in his young career after showing the coaches some poise under pressure in bit roles last season. There is still a lot to learn about Kafka, some mechanics to improve and some challenges to overcome, but the general rule of thumb is that if Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg feel confident about a quarterback, he has earned his stripes.
Edwards is the new guy in town after some unsettling seasons in Buffalo and Jacksonville. He is a big, strong man who has some obvious passing talents. The Eagles have to learn about Edwards in the system and how he handles the coaching staff's demands, but they are pleased that Edwards has added 10 pounds of muscle to his 6 feet 4 frame. Edwards is a big man, one of the most physically-imposing quarterbacks I have seen here.
So are the Eagles set at the position? That's the big question that this draft will answer. They have, reportedly, sniffed around Robert Griffin III enough to raise some eyebrows. Why would the team, as Griffin said, take time to meet with him at the NFL's Scouting Combine unless there was some kind of interest?
Maybe it was due diligence. Maybe Reid wanted to get some insight into a quarterback who is likely to face the Eagles twice a year as a member of the Washington Redskins. Maybe, well, maybe we just don't know why.
There is the reported interest in Ryan Tannehill, expected to be the third quarterback off the board on Thursday. He could go as high as the third or fourth pick in the first round, or he could fall into the spot around 10 or 11. The Eagles reportedly worked Tannehill out privately, sending quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson to look at Tannehill's game up close.
Certainly, if the report was true, the Eagles also understand the landscape of the draft. Why pay attention to a player of that caliber if there is no interest in moving up and drafting him on Thursday night? Due diligence? Of course that could be the case. Then again, there could be more to it than just a few wisps of smoke.
Roseman is right to always want to find "good quarterbacks." It is a lesson many other teams should learn. The Eagles work their third quarterback position wonderfully and always want depth in the system. When they signed Vick, for example, some wondered how in the world he would ever fit as an Eagle. Now Vick is the quarterback, the starter, one season removed from a mega-contract and a starting position in the Pro Bowl.
Of the 53 men on the roster, few are less glamorous than third quarterback. Yet it is vital to nurture and develop that position and to turn it over as often as possible to look at the talent available. Edwards is the latest man in at third quarterback, and it hardly seems a guarantee that he is going to make the team.
That brings us back to the weekend's draft. If the Eagles aren't going to take a "can't-miss" quarterback like Griffin or Andrew Luck, would they take one at all? Is there a third- or fourth-round quarterback -- OK, second round, too -- whom the coaching staff thinks can develop into a "franchise" player at the position? Is it worth using a high draft pick on a player who doesn't have that kind of upside?
You wonder how much of a "need" the quarterback position is for the Eagles. The "want," for every team, is great. To stockpile talent at a position that is so difficult to fill is a goal for every general manager and head coach in the league.
Furthermore, the Eagles aren't exactly in position to "build for the future" with this draft. It is true that you must always have a vision in the draft and project both for the present season and for two to three years down the line, but after a disappointing 8-8 2011 season there has to be urgency to win in 2012.
I'm talking to you only a few days before the draft and I can honestly tell you that I don't know which approach the Eagles are going to take in the first round on Thursday night. I will take the educated guess that they have a group of four or five players they like and think they can acquire within various scenarios on that night, but not until the first few picks are made and scenarios develop will the Eagles truly have a clear sense of their first pick in the draft.
That quarterback question, one that has been simmering for months, is about to be answered. It will tell us everything we need to know about how the Eagles feel about Vick, about Kafka and, certainly, Edwards.
Do they, or don't they? Is the quarterback position about to have a facelift once again? I think the emphasis is going to be one defense, early and often, in this draft. But that recurring quarterback question, and all of those reports, they do spark some legitimate speculation. How far do the Eagles go for another quarterback before, during or after this draft?