Thursday, February 11, 2016

Inside The Birds' Draft Brain

Spent just about a full hour in a conference room at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday with Eagles general manager Tom Heckert and about 15 other reporters for a little pre-draft, state-of-the-team question and answer session.

Inside The Birds' Draft Brain

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Spent just about a full hour in a conference room at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday with Eagles general manager Tom Heckert and about 15 other reporters for a little pre-draft, state-of-the-team question and answer session.

Heckert uses a lot more words than Andy Reid in those situations, but he doesn’t give up too many secrets, either.

Here are a few guesses about the upcoming draft that could be read between the lines, depending on one’s interpretation: 

* It is unlikely they will use all 12 of their draft picks themselves. “We can use some of them to move up in rounds, but also to trade for next year’s picks,” Heckert said. “We’ve already talked to some teams about that. There are a lot of teams without a whole lot of picks, who are trying to gain picks. We wouldn’t do anything like that until we’re on the clock.” 

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* To get into the top 10 of the draft would take one of the Eagles first-round picks (they hold 21 and 28) and something else, but not both. Heckert didn’t say the Eagles would definitely move up – don’t want to seem too desperate – only that they could do so. “We have ammunition,” he said. “We can go high up if we want to.” 

* Here’s an out-and-out guess. They don’t intend to get into the top 5 and land either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe, the two top offensive tackles out there, but they hope Andre Smith slides somewhere to around the 10th pick and they can swoop down and get him. Heckert said Smith’s alleged maturity issues have been investigated and the Eagles like him. “He’s a good kid. It’s not character or anything like that,” Heckert said. If they miss on him, would they take Michael Oher, who is sort of a wild card? Heckert wasn’t saying. 

* Here’s something more than a guess: OT is the only position the Eagles would move up significantly to get. 

* There isn’t going to be a running back taken high by the Eagles. “It’s still not at a point where we say we’ve got to come out of the first two rounds with a running back,” Heckert said. 

* At some point, the Eagles are going to take a tight end in the draft. Heckert said all the right things about Brent Celek, but also said, “We sent Tom Melvin, our tight ends coach, all over the place this year (looking at potential picks).” Why? It’s a priority would be the only reason. 

* There are three quarterbacks who are projected as first-rounders – Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman – but exactly where they fall will affect the rest of the round. “There’s only a certain amount of teams that need a quarterback,” Heckert said. 

* The Eagles aren’t one of them, at least not according to Heckert. 

* On the Donovan McNabb situation, Heckert was asked directly if McNabb did, in fact, tell the organization that his willingness to sign an extension with the Eagles hinged on how much improvement the team made in the roster during the offseason.

Here is the exact text of Heckert’s response:

“Ahh, not that I’m aware of. And that’s…no…I don’t know. That’s…no…I mean that’s…you may have to ask Donovan that, but no…that’s…” Well, at least that was cleared up.

* If the season started today, either Todd Herremans or Shawn Andrews would be the left offensive tackle. Fortunately, it does not.



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Bob Ford has been writing about Philadelphia sports since 1981, and is still trying to figure it all out. A former beat writer covering the Phillies and the 76ers, Ford became a general sports columnist for the Inquirer in 2003, following in and occasionally falling in the deep footsteps of Bill Lyon, Frank Dolson and many distinguished others. He comes to the blogosphere after award-winning success as designer/editor of the fabulous Pen & Pencil Club softball blog. Likes: Palestra, inside-the-park home runs, sunny days. Dislikes: phony people, cloudy days, rewrites. Reach Bob at

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