LAS VEGAS – The decision in the 2021 NFL Draft, Howie Roseman insists, was an easy one: Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith was still on the board at No. 10 and as the Eagles considered all of their pre-Day 1 scenarios, an immediate call to action was in place to deal with Dallas and move up two spots to take the Heisman Trophy-winning player.
"Certain guys are just slam dunks," Roseman said the other day. "Certain guys it's like, I joke, I've got four kids and my son was 7 last year and he could watch DeVonta Smith and see that he was pretty good, right? Those aren't hard. We get paid for the hard ones and I think for us that guy, the kind of culture that he brings, the kind of player he is, it's special. We're looking for special and that's a hard thing to find, but when you see it, you know it.
"They're not all throughout the draft but when you find it and you got it, it changes really the composition of your team. When we're making picks, we're looking for special. We're looking for guys that can be special players, can be special people, and just fit the definition of what it means to be an Eagle."
So, with that as a backdrop as the 2022 NFL Draft begins tonight and the Eagles operate with picks 15 and 18 in Round 1, who is special? Is there going to be one that the Eagles project will be there at 15 and Roseman and the team will sit, patiently, as the first 14 picks come off the board and Philadelphia will take the highest player on its draft board next? Is there a player the Eagles rated in the upper, upper echelon of the opening round who is drifting on the board and still there at eight, at 10, someone whom the Eagles could consider using some of their assets on to move up and nab?
Nobody knows what's going to happen tonight as the names are announced among the first three, five, seven, nine picks. Heck, there is speculation still about who Jacksonville will take No. 1 overall, so if that's not truly a known decision already in the bag, how can we possibly know how things are going to go after that? Last year, quarterback Trevor Lawrence was the no-doubt-about-it selection for the Jags at the top of the draft. Now, who does Jacksonville take?
It could be that kind of Round 1 from Las Vegas, so Roseman has stressed the word flexibility as he describes the position from which the Eagles are operating with picks 15 and 18. That's been the operating message throughout the offseason as the team moved into free agency and nabbed its top target, pass rusher Haason Reddick, added wide receiver Zach Pascal and linebacker Kyzir White, and retained a bunch of their own, including key cogs on both lines of scrimmage, center Jason Kelce and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Then Roseman executed the blockbuster trade with New Orleans to provide an extra first-round pick in 2023, an extra second-round pick in 2024, and an additional third-rounder this weekend at the cost of the Eagles' third first-round pick. A great deal for now, yes, and a tremendous value for the future that provides – here's the word, so wait for it – flexibility for the Eagles in everything they do starting right now.
Tonight? Anything goes, right? Those saying they have a feel for what the Eagles are going to do are just throwing it against the wall, because so much of what the team does will be based on what happens long before Philadelphia is on the clock. No doubt, though, the Eagles have a great opportunity in this draft to add front-line talent to a playoff roster. They have 10 picks, five among the first 101.
The 2022 NFL Draft has arrived. Roseman has finished up his work here – the evaluations are complete, the around-the-NFL phone calls are finished, the potential trade scenarios are buttoned up – so now we wait and see how the names come off the board one by one and what that means for the Eagles. How many people thought the Eagles would trade up last year and take Smith, who went on to have a record-setting rookie season? Who knew that Philadelphia loved, loved offensive lineman Landon Dickerson so much it would use a second-round pick on a player who had suffered a knee injury in his final season at Alabama? The Eagles loved Dickerson for a reason, which we all saw once he stepped on the field. That 2021 Draft Class made an immediate impact with those two, along with defensive tackle Milton Williams and running back Kenneth Gainwell, playing prominent roles.
Roseman has said that if the Eagles stay at 15 and 18 they're going to be really happy with the options they have. He's also said that he enters this draft with an open mind and the understanding that he's going to have a lot of options. That's really where the Eagles are at this moment. They have their plan in place. Now it's time to execute.
The goal: Bring in more special players anywhere and everywhere in this draft. Tonight, the Eagles are armed. They are ready. And soon, we're going to know which direction the team will take. No more names being thrown against the wall by "draft experts." It is time for the action to begin!