When asked on Thursday if he was fairly confident that defensive tackle Mike Patterson would be ready for the regular season opener on Sunday, September 9 in Cleveland, general manager Howie Roseman responded with a simple, "Yes," during his hour-long, pre-draft roundtable session with reporters.
Patterson underwent surgery in January to have an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) removed from his brain. The AVM was discovered after Patterson suffered a seizure during training camp last year. Patterson enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2011 despite playing with the AVM. At the end of the season, Patterson was honored by his teammates with the Ed Block Courage Award.
The 28-year-old Patterson has been at the NovaCare Complex for the offseason conditioning program. It is unknown whether he will be able to participate in the Organized Team Activities next month.
The Eagles have spent a lot of time this offseason tinkering with the defensive tackle position. Cullen Jenkins restructured his contract. Antonio Dixon was re-signed to a one-year deal along with Derek Landri.
Last season's transition to Jim Washburn as defensive line coach put more of a premium on pass rushers from the interior lineman positions.
"I think it's obvious we're looking for pass rushers. We're looking for guys who can put pressure on the quarterback," Roseman said. "We believe this is a passing league and that's something that's important to us. Guys who can get off the ball, who can bend and that's important."
The Eagles defensive tackles accounted for 11 of the team's 50 sacks in 2011. Jenkins paced the position group with 5.5.
A Trade In The Works?
There have been a number of reports over the past few months that have indicated that teams have inquired about the availability of cornerback Asante Samuel in a trade.
Samuel arrived at the NovaCare Complex earlier this week for the start of the offseason conditioning program and said that he wants to remain a part of the Eagles.
Roseman would not comment on the state of any potential trade talks only stating that a lot of discussions are taking place leading up to the draft.
"We're talking to a lot of teams about a lot of things. That's what you do the week before the draft," Roseman said. "In those conversations, you talk about players. You talk about draft picks."
Mocking The Draft
Fans are not the only ones who will be surprised at how the 2012 NFL Draft unfolds starting next Thursday in New York City.
As much as Roseman and his personnel staff try to forecast what other teams are going to do, there is always a curveball. The key for Roseman is to be prepared to take advantage like the Eagles did in 2009. Jeremy Maclin was widely considered a top 10 pick. The Eagles owned the No. 21 selection and didn't spend too much time debating Maclin simply because they didn't expect him to be available.
But when Maclin fell into the teens, the Eagles knew they might have a chance at the prolific wide receiver. The team reviewed their original scouting reports and made a trade with the Cleveland Browns to move up two spots to snag Maclin.
"Something is going to happen where we're going to say 'Whoa!'" Roseman said. "As much as we think our board is going to look like everyone else's, it's not. I think when we're on the clock something will be there, something will not be there that we had not anticipated just because we don't know the draft boards of the 31 other teams."
Roseman tries to glean as much information as he can during talks with other teams. During those conversations, the groundwork for a possible draft day trade are laid out so if the board falls a certain way the Eagles can either move up - and already know what it will take - or trade back and have an idea of who would be a suitable partner.
"It's always hard when you talk to teams to really figure out what they're thinking or what they know. You think that most of the people you talk to really know what they want to do and however their positioning it is in an effort to try and make that happen," Roseman said. "It's hard for me to put myself in those situations and know exactly, but it seems to me that it's business as usual."
Change In Philosophy Regarding Character?
The Eagles have always prided themselves in drafting players of high character.
However, teams not only try to project how a player's skill set will translate to the NFL; they also try to figure out how a player will adapt mentally to the NFL and all of the responsibility that comes with it.
Through trial and error, the Eagles have learned over recent years that certain character traits or behaviors that might have sent up a red flag now might be looked at through a different prism.
"There's been an evolution on the thinking on the character. I can't tell you that we've got a clear-cut answer on it, but we've tried to make up some tiers of things that are acceptable and unacceptable," Roseman said.
At its very essence, Roseman doesn't want to penalize young, 20-year-old men for doing things that young, 20-year-old men do.
"You just want to make sure that you're not punishing someone because they're young and trying to have some fun in college and they weren't doing anything that's going to limit their potential in the NFL or affect their ability to be a good teammate or that they're a bad person and they're going to make bad decisions and put the organization at risk," Roseman said.
It's a "very thin" line, Roseman admits.
"You're still dealing with really young people and people trying to find themselves," he said. "That's what makes the draft so tricky."
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