Roseman still looking for success with top picks

MOBILE, Ala. - Howie Roseman has a problem.

His two drafts, while not complete busts and still not near final judgment time, have yet to deliver what would commonly be referred to as an impact player.

Roseman, who has increasingly become a lightning rod for fan discontent, enters his third season as Eagles general manager with a resumé that highlights some of his successes in the latter rounds, but buries his less-than-impressive selections in the early rounds.

Of the 12 players the Eagles have chosen in the first four rounds of the last two drafts, 10 have started a total of 76 games if you include Alex Henery's 16 starts at kicker. Of the 12 players chosen in the last three rounds, five have started a total of 67 games.

Top draft picks like defensive ends Brandon Graham and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett have been disappointments, while lower-round guys like linebackers Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle and safety Kurt Coleman have been surprises.

Roseman, during a 25-minute interview at the Senior Bowl, acknowledged that the Eagles would prefer to get the most production out their top picks. Coach Andy Reid has final say on personnel matters, but make no mistake about it, the draft is the 36-year-old GM's baby.

"I think that's something you have to look at," Roseman said Tuesday. "What are we doing in the middle and later rounds that we're getting these players that are producing at these levels that we can make that work for us throughout the draft?"

There are more than a few theories. One is that Roseman just isn't selecting the right players early on. Another is that Chaney, Rolle, and Coleman are only starting because the Eagles just aren't strong at those positions.

The Eagles have also become savant-like in collecting late-round picks in the hopes of upping the percentages in hitting on a starter. They already have three sixth-round picks and two fourth-rounders in April's draft.

"The more chances you got the more chances you have at getting good players, and when we look back at it we just want to get good players," Roseman said.

Most of the best players, for obvious reasons, come early. The Eagles have selected one player in each of the first three rounds over the last two years. Graham - Roseman's first pick - has come under additional scrutiny because he was selected two spots ahead of Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants end who was voted into the Pro Bowl this year.

"A lot of times when you're into the draft you have these decisions . . . doubles vs. Dave Kingman trying to go for the long ball," Roseman said.

There were some concerns before that draft about Pierre-Paul's relative inexperience and his character. Graham had a solid start, but tore an anterior cruciate ligament in December of his rookie season and spent most of 2011 rehabbing.

"We still think Brandon Graham's going to be a really good player," Roseman said. He added, though, that "there's a huge sense of urgency with" the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Pierre-Paul and the Giants, meanwhile, are headed to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots after another improbable run through the postseason. Roseman said he did not view New York's success as proof that the Eagles, who beat the Giants with Vince Young at quarterback, could have just as easily been in their place.

"I'm not big on 'what ifs,' " he said.

Still, Roseman intimated regret that the Eagles did not improve the linebacker position since the wide-nine scheme up front would place additional pressure on that group. The Eagles under Reid have never drafted a linebacker in the first round, but many believe they may have to this year.

"We don't devalue that position," Roseman said. "Have there been opportunities that maybe haven't worked out because maybe a player gets picked right before we picked and we're in negotiation to sign someone and it doesn't work out? No doubt about that."

The Eagles did not sign one free agent linebacker last year, though, other than one of their own (Akeem Jordan). Instead they stocked up on cornerbacks and defensive linemen and struck out on offense with wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Ronnie Brown, and Young.

"I think when you're 8-8 and you're at the Senior Bowl you obviously look back and think there were things you could have done in a different way," Roseman said. "But I think that when you step back and you look at the core of the team and the blend of youth and experience and talent, we have an opportunity to be competitive and to be competitive for a long time."

Extra points. The Eagles claimed tackle D.J. Jones off waivers from the Ravens.

 


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.