Quarterbacks, as always, have elicited much debate in this year's NFL Draft season. From the lighting rod that is Johnny Manziel to Teddy Bridgewater's perceived falling draft stock, questions about this year's quarterback class and where they'll end up has dominated the pre-draft process.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman provided his two cents on the topic Thursday, providing the perspective of a team without a need at the position.
"When you look at the quarterback position, you get situations where teams feel, 'I'm going to take the best player and then I'm going to come back and get one.' I think that if you need one, the hard part about that is if you are anticipating getting one in the second round, you don't know what the teams in front of you are going to take and if you're really committed to getting a certain guy, are you willing to lose him? I think that's the interesting part of this year's draft," Roseman said. "How many go before we pick and then how many teams are jockeying to get their guy? There's debate within us about whether there's three or four (first-round caliber quarterbacks)."
The beauty of the draft is that no one really knows which quarterbacks Roseman is referring to. It could be Manziel, Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, or there could be a wildcard or two in the mix.
"It's hard to predict how every other team's board is. It's like flavors of ice cream," Roseman said. "I might like vanilla, you might like chocolate. Everyone sees things differently. I feel confident that no one knows our draft board, so I don't feel confident that anyone really knows the other 31 teams' (boards). We just go by how we graded them."
One position that does not have an impressive group of prospects this year, in Roseman's eyes, is safety.
"In terms of the safety class, I don't think it's a good group overall," said Roseman. "I think that you're talking about a drop-off certainly when you get to Saturday (rounds 4-7). When we look at our safety group, obviously, we signed Malcolm (Jenkins), and his ability to fit in this defense and be a quarterback back there for our defense. Then Earl (Wolff) and Nate (Allen), we're excited about their ability to make that jump. We talk about athletic tools and what's in their body. Nate's 6-2, he's 215 (pounds), he's finally in the same system for the second year. You have to be able to play fast, you have to be able to not think, and I know it's very hard for a safety going through all those system changes, especially as a young player who didn't really grow up playing the position – he was a quarterback in high school. And then Earl, as a rookie, I thought he did a really good job before he got hurt. Then, again, you're talking about a guy who's 215 pounds, runs a 4.4, unbelievable work ethic that's off the charts. We're excited about those guys, and we brought in (Chris) Maragos, as well. That doesn't mean we wouldn't add (in the draft) if it's the best player (available), but at the same time, we expect those guys to take a jump and be better players."
Because the Eagles have "only" six picks in this year's draft, Roseman was asked whether the team will place more of a premium on post-draft rookie free agency. Considering the record number of underclassmen entering this year's draft, there should be more talent available after the draft than ever.
"I think if we had 10 picks it would be really important," Roseman said. "That's another opportunity to add players who have a chance to be on your football team and when you look at it, that's another avenue for us to get some talented guys. We're diving in like we have six picks, but even if we added more picks we're going to grind on those (priority free agent) guys and try to add some really good talent. I think we did a good job last year. I know our coaches have done a tremendous job of recruiting these guys, talking to them, spending time with them. A lot of times you go to these Pro Days and we'll tell the coaches who go there, 'We know you're working out this guy, who is going to be a first two-round pick, but spend some time with this guy who we think is going to be undrafted. Give him some love. Talk to him. Recruit him. Tell him about the opportunity in Philly.'"
If the Eagles do acquire extra picks next weekend, Roseman wouldn't rule out the possibility of trading players on the current roster – if teams come calling.
"I think that everything's for sale at the right price, right? If anyone wants to buy my house for the right price, I'll sell it right now," Roseman said. "I think that we're not out there openly shopping guys, but in these conversations about moving up and moving down teams will say, 'Where do you have depth?' If it was something that we thought made us better (we might do it), but at the end of the day when you're talking about established players you better get the right value for them because when you're talking about later picks, the odds of hitting on those guys isn't really high. If you have a guy who has a role and can do something really well, that's hard to find with a later-round guy. I guess the answer is kind of a non-answer."
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