PHOENIX -- After signing eight free agents and trading for wide receiver Arrelious Benn last week, Howie Roseman has earned the right to relax. The Eagles general manager still has plenty of work left to do as he helps build a 90-man roster for new coach Chip Kelly to mold into his final 53. But Roseman arrived at the NFL owners meetings having cleared one obstacle. How affectively he cleared it, though, remains to be seen.
The next major hurdle is the draft. The Eagles have the No. 4 overall pick, the first time they've had a selection that high since 1999 when they took Donovan McNabb with the second pick. Could they draft another quarterback first, as they did in Andy Reid's first season as coach?
If they do, the likely selection would be West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. The Eagles brass, including owner Jeffrey Lurie, visited Morgantown last week to work out Smith. Roseman gave few clues about who the Eagles may be leaning toward taking, but he did talk a little about the philosophy of drafting that high during a five-minute interview with The Inquirer on Monday.
Here's the transcript:
HAVE YOU DONE EVERYTHING YOU’VE NEEDED TO DO IN FREE AGENCY?
“I don’t think it’s ever ideal to go into free agency and sign a bunch of guys. But for us, on all these players we felt that they fit our scheme and the values made sense.”
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE PLAYERS YOU ADDED (Linebacker Connor Barwin, defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga, linebacker Jason Phillips, cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, safeties Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips and tight end James Casey)?
“You’re excited because all of them fit what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to build. We have a lot more work to do. Obviously, we’re totally focused now on transitioning to the draft, starting with that fourth pick. I don’t know if there’s time here to think that you did anything great, other than trying to improve your team.”
DID YOU TRY TO BUILD YOUR BASE THROUGH FREE AGENCY?
“It’s all what you have. When you look at this free agency, we thought the values lied in the solid players and the guys that fit our scheme, as opposed to the big-name players with high-price tags. We had targeted guys right at the outset and then we thought we’d sit and wait. Sitting and waiting in this market is different because free agency is a week later than it normally is. You come here and people want to move toward the draft. I think that gave you an opportunity to even get the second-tier market to agree earlier than normal because they want to be situated.”
HOW DO YOU ENVISION BENN FITTING IN?
“I think he’s got to come in and prove it himself. Obviously, he’s a talented guy. He’s a big guy, a guy that we liked coming out of the draft, a guy that coach knew from recruiting. He has been able to play inside or out and play on special teams and return kicks.”
YOU'VE COME TO THE LAST THREE OWNERS MEETING WITH A PLAYER TO TRADE (Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Asante Samuel). HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY OFFERS FROM TEAMS LOOKING TO ACQUIRE NICK FOLES?
“We have been adamant that we want and like Nick Foles. We just drafted Nick Foles. It’s hard to find quarterbacks in this league and we’re excited to see him. That’s where we are. We haven’t changed that.”
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME AS A GM THAT YOU'VE HAD A DRAFT PICK THIS HIGH? IS IT DIFFERENT THAN DRAFTING LATER IN THE FIRST ROUND?
“We you’re in the 20s, you’re obviously looking at a pool of players that you think will go anywhere from 15-40. You’re just trying to rate the players and put them in the right order. When you’re at four it’s a shorter pool of players that you’re looking at with that pick. You’re not looking at ten players. You’re down to this point to six or seven names. And so you got to know a lot about them, and you really got to rank your board and be willing to take the best player.”
BUT WHAT IF A QB THAT YOU LIKE IS THERE AT NO. 4, BUT HE’S NOT TECHNICALLY THE BEST AVAILABLE?
“You got to take the best player, but at the same time, the players that are evenly rated or are in the same tier and it’s at a more important position, you may be leaning towards the more important position. But I think part of the free agency was being able to go into the draft without having to say we have to get this. For the most part we feel like we did that probably even more so than we anticipated because we didn’t anticipate going in and signing a bunch of players in free agency. We targeted a couple of guys. But because of how the values work in free agency and what we thought of the players, we thought it was a great opportunity.”
DO YOU NEED TO ADD ANOTHER OFFENSIVE LINEMAN?
“We like our mix of players on the offensive line, but again, you can never have enough offensive linemen or defensive linemen. So wherever we think there’s a value, whether it’s free agency or the draft or on the trade market, we’ll explore it and see if it’s a fit.”
IS DANNY WATIKINS THE PENCILED-IN STARTER AT RIGHT GUARD RIGHT NOW?
“I don’t know if we’ve gotten to penciled-in starters right now. We have a minicamp coming up and we’ll see who lines up, and even if they line up with the first team or the second team, at camp things change.”