PHOENIX – With seven selections, as of now, in April's NFL Draft and as many as 11, 12, or 13 in 2020, the Eagles think the best is yet to come as they build their roster with a short-term vision and a long-range plan in place.
This has Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie excited.
He expects the Eagles to have a chance to get younger, more dynamic, and more dominating in years to come if the plan falls into place as the Eagles anticipate with Howie Roseman leading the roster-building process.
"Absolutely critical," Lurie said on Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting. "Basically, we planned it exactly how it's gone in the sense of we didn't have as many draft picks. We've had some good young players, really good young players, but volume of draft picks? We believe in volume. We're not cocky enough to feel that you're going to draft way better than anybody else, and it's very important to create volume.
"This draft we're going to have good volume, especially in the top of the draft, two twos (second-round picks) and two fours (fourth-round picks) to go with our one (first-round pick), and next year we're going to have quite a few draft choices. It's very important, so when you look ahead over the next 13 months, we're going to be adding about 20 draft choices. You're going to have some undrafted players make the team, and so you can imagine there's probably going to be about 20 to 25 players that are going to be about 22 years old, 23 years old on our roster, and we planned for that.
"To Howie's credit in the front office, what they've done, I think they've always balanced this and sort of analyzed it, should you sign a player who is a potentially good starting player at age say 31 or 30 versus a low-level starting player who's a lot younger. So, when I talk to Howie, it's always about what is the next two years going to be in that comparison. Yeah, you get the 25- or 26-year-old in his second contract, but he's a low-level starter. His team didn't want him, and maybe he can be a low-level starter for us at best, or you can get a guy who can make an impact, several guys who can make an impact, and we're banking on them for one to two years. So that's resource allocation. It's with the idea of what we're going to be allocating for quarterback and for every other position, and the notion that we're going to have about 20-odd players coming on to our roster in the next 13 months.
"An interesting stat in the league, and we'll be consistent with that, is that I think 65 percent of the players in the league are in their first to third years. So when you think about that and where will we be in about 13 months, I bet we're pretty close to that."
The Eagles have been aggressive in free agency and they've put themselves in a strong position to attack the NFL Draft without any glaring needs. But they've also added some age, as does every team when it signs veteran players mostly on their third NFL contracts. The Eagles know they have to nail the draft and they have the resources to do it – not just this year but next spring as well.
Roseman isn't alone doing the player evaluation and decision-making. He's got vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas working in the trenches and Lurie is impressed by the team in place.
"I think Joe is terrific. The team that Joe and Howie have built have been terrific," Lurie said. "It's really not one person. I think the longer you're in this, it's a lot of voices and a lot of trying to figure out – you've got a lot of close-call choices, and Joe does a terrific job, and I think we've been fortunate enough to attract a lot of really good people in the whole scouting and the analytics area. It's what I've always wanted, and I think we have a great team. We brought in Andrew Berry (vice president of football operations) recently, terrific young executive, and Andy Weidl (director of player personnel), we've got a slew. We also at some point are going to lose executives. When you're winning, you're going to lose executives, and I think we're in a great position to be able to deal with that.
"But we don't want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake. So we are always looking for who we think some of the best young talent is in the country in terms of bringing them to us. It's not like this person is in this position and that's that. We are constantly wanting to add to it just as we would with the roster."