The Eagles could use the No. 4 overall pick on a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, which is now just 10 days away. If they do, it will be because that player is the best available on the team's board.
"We're trying to do it the right way. We're drafting people based on our grades. We're drafting people based on what we think are the best players available, not just what we need at this moment," general manager Howie Roseman said on Monday during an hour-long roundtable session with reporters. "We're not going to force anything. Our draft board may not be the same as people inside this room or people outside this room. We feel very comfortable with the process where we're at."
The team has spent time with a number of the top quarterback prospects available. West Virginia's Geno Smith, the consensus top quarterback in this year's draft class, visited the NovaCare Complex and was put through a private workout, which was attended by Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie. Roseman stressed that the Eagles will focus on taking the best player available because straying from the draft board will make the team miss out on a good player at another position. The rankings of the top three quarterbacks on the Eagles' draft board have not changed since the end of the college season, per Roseman.
The Eagles certainly look at the quarterback position as the most important on the team. Roseman said that new head coach Chip Kelly is looking for similar traits in his quarterbacks that former head coach Andy Reid did. And just because Kelly will have the read-option in his playbook, mobility will not be the most important factor in evaluating quarterbacks.
"I think when you're looking at mobility it's always part of the equation. It's always been part of the equation here," Roseman said. "Is that the first critical factor? There are things that we look at before we get to that."
Last year, the top two selections of the NFL Draft were used to pick a quarterback - Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Robert Griffin III in Washington. Both of those quarterbacks took their teams to the playoffs. Another four quarterbacks, including Philadelphia's own Nick Foles, became the starter and one of them, Seattle's Russell Wilson, won in the playoffs. Roseman said it's unfair to expect the same results from this year's quarterback class.
"You look at last year and I think the expectations are out of whack for the groups going forward because last year was a unique group," Roseman said. "When we look back at that group, I think it's going to be one that people look back on and people say was a rare opportunity in the NFL, certainly at the top when you talk about those kinds of guys. When you take out last year and compare it to other years, (this year's class) falls more in line."
The Eagles have an advantage over many of the other NFL teams in that they have a three-day voluntary minicamp which begins Tuesday. This will give the Eagles a chance to see their current quintet of quarterbacks work with Kelly although it should not drastically alter the team's draft plans.
Roseman said that there are four guys in mind for the team's highest draft pick since 1999 when Donovan McNabb was selected with the No. 2 overall pick. Will it be, like McNabb, a quarterback? In 10 days, we will all find out together, but Roseman has made it clear that it will be the best player available.
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