Eagles general manager Howie Roseman spoke with reporters Monday in preparation for the April 25-27 NFL draft. Like many observers, Roseman characterized this as a "meat and potatoes" draft, heavy on talent along the lines, more than at the skill positions. Roseman said this was "exciting" because teams are "built along the lines."
Of course, it might have been even more exciting to pick fourth overall in a draft like last year's, when there was an outstanding crop of franchise quarterbacks and a team (St. Louis) willing to trade out of the second spot to give somebody a shot at Robert Griffin III. Roseman said last year's QB class was so strong, it makes this year's group look weaker than it really is, that this is more like a "normal" QB year.
That might be read as a lukewarm endorsement of the Eagles possibly taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith fourth overall. But Roseman also said that Pro Football Weekly analyst Nolan Nawrocki is "someone who has a lot of credibility." Nawrocki famously blistered Smith last week as lacking in leadership, work habits and focus. Roseman said the Eagles take seriously such evaluations, but they make decisions based on their own information. They not only flew to West Virginia to work out Smith, they had him into NovaCare to see, Roseman said, how he adjusted to the Eagles' atmosphere.
*If you're a fan of Oregon DE Dion Jordan at fourth overall, there was encouragement. Roseman talked about how the most important question the Eagles ask themselves going into the draft is where a player is going to be in three years. Some analysts, most notably the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, have said that Jordan might not be a great player right away but will be in a few years. Roseman also emphasized how important it is that new coach Chip Kelly and the staff members he brought from Oregon really know Jordan, have "lived with him." Roseman also said that the pass-rushing talent in this draft is at the very top, that "pass-rushers are going to go quickly."
*Roseman said there have been teams asking about the Eagles' top pick. “Even during the combine, you talk to people about their pick and what’s going on. The serious conversation will pick up next week, when you’ve had a chance to sit back, look at your draft board, go through scenarios and figure out what you’re looking at and what you’re going to get," he said. Given that this is not a top-heavy draft, and that the rebuilding Birds have just one selection in each of the second through sixth rounds, it seems very likely they will try to trade down at least a few slots. It didn't sound likely they would trade to the bottom of the first, or out of the round entirely.
*Roseman said the extra three-day minicamp granted new coaches, which starts Tuesday for the Eagles, will be of some value going into the draft, with the team able to assess who's in shape, etc.
*Roseman called the excellent safety class of 2013 "an encouraging group." The Eagles seem unlikely to take a safety first, but it'll be an upset if they get beyond the fourth round without acquiring one.
*Roseman said Kelly and former coach Andy Reid are "very similar in terms of what they're looking for out of a quarterback." He deflected attempts to determine whether Roseman or Kelly has final say in the draft, painting it as a collaborative process. He said preparing for Kelly's first draft has been "really fun," that "a lot of debate and energy goes into these meetings."
*Roseman said the Eagles have decided that Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is OK medically, after a heart scare at the NFL Scouting Combine.