We're still a week away from the 2010 NFL draft, which in some circles whizzes by faster than the speed of light and in others drags along at the furious pace of a herd of turtles moving toward the ocean. For Howie Roseman, general manager of the Eagles, it is the time to tidy up all of the work he and his staff have done for the last nine months, to dot all of the I's and cross all of the T's and know that there are going to be some very good football players on the board when the Eagles select on April 22-24.
Thursday was Roseman's day for the media and he met with writers and cameras and a world of questions. A fascinating couple of months culminates with the draft, the backbone of every NFL organization.
And the Eagles, with 11 picks, including five of the first 87, have the kind of firepower to dictate the terms of the proceedings as they see fit.
"We know we are going to come out of the draft with good football players, because there are always good players throughout the draft. It is our job," said Roseman, "to find as many as we can and help this team. It was our goal to become a better football team once 2009 ended. We took an objective look at ourselves and wanted to get younger and faster, and we have done that. The draft gives us another chance to do that."
And so we all have questions and Roseman answered them all on Thursday, even if he didn't reveal anything about the Eagles' draft plans. He said the level of conversation with other teams was "interesting." He said he likes to make moves, and that with the partnership of Andy Reid, who knows what that means for the Eagles. That 37th pick in the draft, fifth in the second round, along with the seventh pick of the third day, gives the Eagles some added opportunities to make deals.
But tip his hand as to where the Eagles are leaning, what they are thinking? Not a bit.
"We can improve in this draft and we are going to do that. I really like where we are in terms of our preparation. We still have work to do, and we know that," said Roseman. "We made some trades that give us extra draft picks, so now we're excited about that chance."
Offense? Defense? Yeah, the Eagles are going to address both sides of the ball. If you think the Eagles will ignore one side of the ball, you are mistaken.
"I think it is a good defensive draft, as everyone is saying out there," said Roseman. "But there are some good offensive players, too. The key for us and for every team is to pick the right players. They are out there. You just have to find them and then get them here and make them better in our scheme and who can thrive here.
"This is a process that starts in the fall with our scouts out on the road doing their work and writing their reports and it continues all the way to this point," he said. "You get the coaches involved and get their input and you take all of the information you have into account and you see what's on the board, where you can move to get good players. I think we all feel good about where we are right now."
The Eagles have made a lot of moves in the off-season. They have traded their face of the franchise, quarterback Donovan McNabb. They have shed some of the familiar names from the roster. They have gotten younger, they have added draft picks and they have put themselves in a position where this draft sets the stage for so much of what is to follow.
A good draft adds to an already-strong young core of players and provides a great present and future. Anything less is unacceptable.
So what will the Eagles do early in the draft? Stay? Move?
"I don't think you want to make moves just for movement's sake," said Roseman. "If you are there and there is a good player on the board and you want him, pick him. But we're open. We aren't afraid to make hard decisions and make moves."
Roseman said that Reid has "the final say here" and that they are "excited to work together and that we see things very similarly." They have, clearly, enjoyed the working leading to now. What that means when it comes to decision time next week remains to be seen.
Is there a best guess on what the Eagles will do in the draft? No names emerged from Roseman's interviews. The mock drafts have been all over the spectrum. Offense, defense, you name it. Most observers figure that the Eagles will address the defense heavily, but can't they add to both sides of the ball with 11 draft picks, which could turn into 13 or 14 or even 15?
"You have to see how the board looks as it moves along. You have to be patient and at the same time recognize when there is a chance to make a move," said Roseman, who had a big hand in last year's draft as he organized the pre-draft board and helped in the decision-making process that landed the Eagles players like wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, tight end Cornelius Ingram, defensive back Macho Harris and linebacker Moise Fokou. "When the time comes and the draft begins, we will be ready and prepared to do a great job and help this football team win games."
Roseman has helped take the Eagles into a new direction with all of the trades and the moves since the 2009 season ended in such disappointing fashion at Cowboys Stadium. The Eagles are certainly a younger team, one of the very youngest in the NFL. The depth chart has its question marks, for sure. The draft -- the picks the Eagles make and perhaps a veteran or two they acquire as well -- has to provide some answers.
This last week is the time when the paint dries on all of the hard work the team has put in preparing for the most important few days of the year. Roseman is the one in charge of the personnel side, all of the organizing and all of the scouting. He is on the spot.
"It isn't about me," he said. "It's about making this football team better no matter how we have to do it. We're working here as a team. We have a great group of guys who have been thorough in their preparation to this point. It isn't over yet. I think we all have to wait to see the final product before we judge what we have here. That's the exciting thing. We like our team now, and we know we have a lot of good players we have a chance to bring to this football team.
"I'm excited. We're all excited. I just want to do my part to bring this city a championship. We had a plan coming into the off-season and we're starting to execute it. I'll tell you after the draft how we did pulling off what we would like to do."