Even after one of the top cornerbacks fell to within striking distance, even after the best pass-rushing defensive ends had flown off the board, general manager Howie Roseman said, the Eagles got their man in last weekend's NFL draft.
For seven months, he said, he had eyed Baylor guard Danny Watkins.
It started with an August conversation with Art Briles, the Baylor head coach who had mentored Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb in high school and college. In a visit to the Eagles, Briles raved about his offensive tackle. Roseman knows Briles well, so when he started watching tape in September, video of Watkins' junior year was one of the first he checked out. He saw toughness, pass protection, run blocking, and smarts.
"He was one of the players that the minute you watch you want on your team," Roseman said.
But the Eagles had two other big needs - cornerback and defensive end. And on Thursday's draft day, one of the best corners in the 2010 class slid closer and closer. Nebraska's Prince Amukamara dropped to within seven picks, then six, then five.
Did the Eagles try to move up? Firm answers are elusive.
"Prince is a good player, and we liked him," Roseman said Tuesday. But Roseman said the team wanted the "flexibility" of keeping picks later in the draft.
"For us, the better outcome was picking the guy we picked and continuing to get more players," he said.
Pressed on the issue, Roseman added, "You always look into what things would cost to get up there, but we felt very comfortable" picking at 23.
Amukamara's fall hints that some teams liked him less than draft analysts did, though it was also due in part to an early run on quarterbacks that pushed others down the board. Media perceptions don't always match NFL scouting reports, Roseman said, though he said he wasn't speaking specifically about Amukamara.
With Giants fans chanting "We want Prince!" the Eagles' rivals grabbed the corner at 19. The Eagles will see how good he is twice a year.
The Eagles picked four slots later. The top defensive linemen left, including Cameron Jordan and Cam Heyward, were better suited to the 3-4. Cornerback Jimmy Smith was there, but character questions dragged him out of the Eagles' plans.
Roseman had hinted all week about trading back. But with several quarterbacks gone early, the market for late first-round picks didn't materialize.
"[Watkins] was the best available guy when we picked, and it just so happened that it hit a need," Roseman said.
Watkins will likely start at right guard. Todd Herremans will probably stay at left guard, Andy Reid said Tuesday in a radio appearance on 97.5-FM, denting speculation that Herremans might move to right tackle and opening a question about who will protect Michael Vick's blind side.
After taking Watkins, Roseman picked Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round, earlier than many thought the safety would go.
"You cannot watch a Temple football game and not see No. 5 coming up and making plays," Roseman said. "He is a tempo setter."
Again the Eagles passed on a cornerback, Miami's Brandon Harris, though many analysts questioned whether he is big enough for the NFL.
Instead, they got corner Curtis Marsh in the third round, loving his athleticism and size despite his inexperience.
The Eagles wanted Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews with the seventh pick in Round 4, but an offer to move back to 19th and gain Tampa Bay's 2012 fourth- rounder was too tempting. Roseman just hoped Matthews would still be around.
"We were holding our breath," he said.
They exhaled and picked him and then chose Nebraska's Alex Henery, taking a kicker who will likely replace David Akers.
"These are uncertain times in terms of who's going to be on your roster and what's going to happen going forward," Roseman said, referring to the lockout.
Akers had turned down an Eagles contract offer and balked at the team's transition tag, which might not stick anyway.
The draft was also notable for what it didn't include: no Kevin Kolb trade, no defensive line help, and no cornerback ready to start this year opposite Asante Samuel.
Whenever trades resume, Kolb could still bring back a 2012 draft pick or a veteran - maybe the missing pass rusher or cornerback.
The Eagles will also look to free agency. As with the draft, Roseman said the Eagles have a vision of where they want to end up.
"We have a plan," he said. "We haven't had a chance to fully execute it."
Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanTamari