Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas spent over a half-hour with reporters offering a preview of the 2018 NFL Draft which kicks off a week from Thursday. Our live coverage begins on April 26 with Eagles Draft Central presented by Dietz & Watson at 7 p.m. Here are the biggest takeaways.
1. What is the Cohabitation Matrix?
Howie Roseman explained how social media and the internet have made it easier for teams to narrow down the top prospects in each draft class. Looking for an edge, Roseman and Douglas alluded to what they call the Cohabitation Matrix. To simplify it, it's comparable to utilizing references on a job résumé and it worked for the Eagles on the way to the Super Bowl last season. Safety Corey Graham and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe were key role players who Douglas had previously worked with in Baltimore.
Chemistry played a huge role in the Eagles' success last season and if you know how a player is going to fit in your program it's one fewer variable to eliminate when it comes to making a roster decision.
2. A look at the Eagles' draft picks
The Eagles currently have six draft picks starting with No. 32 overall. If the Eagles stay at 32, they are not scheduled to pick again until the fourth round. It's not an ideal scenario to be without a draft choice on Day 2 but those picks were used to acquire players who helped bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia.
The Eagles' second-round pick was part of the package sent to Cleveland to acquire the No. 2 overall selection in 2016 which was used on quarterback Carson Wentz. Buffalo obtained the Eagles' third-round selection this year as part of the deal to get cornerback Ronald Darby. Philadelphia also had an additional fourth-round pick from New England, but Miami owns it now in exchange for running back Jay Ajayi.
3. Scouts will need to win on Saturday
Douglas is excited about the fact that the Eagles have five picks on Day 3 of the draft (Rounds 4-7). Those players might not get the big headlines next weekend but will loom large in the overall picture of building the roster. There were 36 players on the Eagles' roster alone for the Super Bowl (including Injured Reserve) who were chosen after the third round or not at all.
An interesting side note is that Douglas believes it may be harder as the defending Super Bowl champions to draw in undrafted players because of the perceived lack of open roster spots.
4. Eagles willing to redshirt top pick
If the Eagles choose a player at a position with established starters, the team is open to him not getting on the field as a rookie. Just look at how the team handled Sidney Jones a year ago. The Eagles used a second-round pick on the cornerback who ruptured his Achilles during his Pro Day workout. Jones rehabbed furiously and earned some snaps in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys. It was a short-term loss to add a potential top-10 talent.
5. The true impact of the draft will be measured over time
It was great that defensive end Derek Barnett, last year's first-round pick, recovered quarterback Tom Brady's fumble to help win the Super Bowl. But look at the impact of the 2012 draft class. First-round pick Fletcher Cox started at defensive tackle and drew a double team on Brandon Graham's strip-sack that created the fumble that Barnett recovered. Defensive end Vinny Curry and linebacker Mychal Kendricks, both second-round picks, started on defense.
And, of course, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was a third-round pick.
6. Don't rule out a running back early
The Eagles had a successful running back committee paced by LeGarrette Blount (a free agent added after last year's draft), Ajayi (acquired at the trade deadline), and rookie free agent Corey Clement. The trio accounted for 155 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards, and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl win over New England.
However, Douglas acknowledged that he's not opposed to taking a running back as early as the first round.
"Great running backs are difference-makers," he said.
7. Still must do due diligence at every position
Just because the Eagles have Wentz, Foles, and the promising Nate Sudfeld on the roster, the team doesn't skip over any position - including quarterback - in draft meetings. Douglas said the scouting staff is passionate about finding the best players and he appreciates when they bang the table for a prospect at an already deep position.
8. Part talent evaluation, part private investigation
One of the biggest changes in the scouting profession is the balance between studying a prospect's on-field skills and off-field behavior. Douglas said that over the years the shift has been more to learning about a player's background and with that how he'll fit into the team's locker room. Douglas said that the Eagles teach the scouts who the best people are to gather information from and the right questions to ask to separate truth and lies.