We're in NFL Draft Week, 2023. The Top 30 visits are finished. These are the days when the final touches on draft boards are made, evaluators watch just a little more tape, and general managers really hit the telephone lines.
You can be sure that Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman has a fully charged iPhone, with a backup plan if needed. He has many strengths and maybe one at the very top is his understanding of what is happening around the league in terms of how teams structure and view their rosters and what the market value for players and roster-building assets are.
It takes a team of people around Roseman to fully accomplish this understanding – members of the personnel department are deployed to evaluate every roster in the NFL and the Eagles have relationships around the league that cooperate with sharing certain information – but it's an area in which Roseman excels and it is a prime reason he's able to consummate so many deals around the league.
So, that leads to this question: How comfortable are Roseman and the Eagles with six picks heading into this 2023 NFL Draft and how eager will he be to move some pieces to accumulate more selections starting on April 27?
"I think that it's dependent on the value of the pick that we have. By that I mean that, for instance, last year when we were picking in the third round, I don't know that we've had as many trade offers as we did on any pick as we did in that third-round pick, and I'm not saying it was for (linebacker) Nakobe (Dean) or what it was, but we felt like we didn't want to move that pick because of Nakobe, and last year we traded our fourth and two fifth (-round picks) to move up for (defensive tackle) Jordan (Davis).
"I think the most important thing for us is not necessarily to win the draft in terms of how many picks we can possibly get and how many players that we can possibly pick, but getting the right players. For us, there are going to be times where we're sitting there and our board is going to have a big drop-off and we'll have a trade offer to move back, and we'll say, 'We think the value of this pick is better than getting some of these mid-picks.' We've talked a lot in this room about when you're picking and how the odds naturally cut off at a certain point in each round and you have a better chance of hitting on guys."
There are a lot of components to consider in this draft. Yes, the Eagles have two first-round draft picks and, as Roseman said on Thursday, nobody knows what the team is going to do. They consider the 2022 NFL Draft as part of what happens next weekend because, as the team has said throughout the offseason, players like Davis and Dean and Cam Jurgens will have opportunities to play more substantial roles in their second seasons. Philadelphia is loaded for the 2024 draft, with 12 picks (including a projected four compensatory selections for losing players in free agency this year), so that plays into the equation.
So does the post-draft period. Last year, four undrafted free agents were on the roster for every game and Reed Blankenship ended up playing in 10 games with four starts. He was terrific in his 291 regular-season snaps and then he played 37 percent of the defensive snaps and played well in the three postseason games.
It’s not just the first round, folks, and Roseman emphasized that point.
"What makes it really important that we can prepare for, because you don't know what's going to happen in the course of a draft, is we've got to be prepared for undrafted free agency," Roseman said, talking about the post-draft time. "Really proud of the job our scouts, our coaches, our football administration people did last year after the draft and adding – we had four guys make our team after the draft, and those are extra picks. When you look at the league where a majority of the players come from after the first couple rounds, it's undrafted free agency. I think we've really got to have a good process in place for that. I think we do have a good process in conjunction with (Head Coach Nick Sirianni) and his coaches.
"So, I think that's something we can prepare for and make sure that if we come out of this with six picks that we're also coming out with a bunch of players after the draft that we think can contribute to this football team."
Thursday night is the first order of business, of course. To stay at 10 or to move out? Up? Down? How about at 30? What can Roseman do to maximize the team's assets and, most importantly, add good players to this roster?
"Roster-building is a year-round job for us, and so this is a big part of it. But I look at it like we've got to ensure that we're getting the right players and that we're not forcing anything, and the mistakes are made when you force and you try to make something out of nothing," Roseman said. "We have barometers in place, I think, with the conversations that we have where we really try to test each other and try to play devil's advocate and make sure that we're not doing something just because we want to make something into something that maybe is not there."