THIS TIME, when the draft was over, Howie Roseman felt energized.
Not that Roseman had felt like jumping off a bridge following the 2010 and 2011 Eagles drafts, Roseman's first as general manager, but when this selection meet concluded, Roseman thought he and the Eagles had learned from their mistakes, had seen some gambles pay off, and had done everything they could do to make the 2012 offseason and the draft a success.
Late Saturday evening, after the Eagles completed their nine selections in the seven-round draft and laid the groundwork for signing their 13 undrafted free agents, Roseman drove home. His three children were in bed, his wife was sleepy, but Roseman found he wasn't ready to close his eyes, even after 3 days of drafting.
"I was downstairs till 2 o'clock just looking over it and just getting a chance to . . . kind of figure out what we had done and what we had wanted to do. You'd think you'd be drained, and you'd just want to go to sleep, but there was just an energy level," Roseman said Monday when he met with a gaggle of reporters to discuss what at first blush looks like a landmark Eagles draft.
It's easy to envision Roseman sitting up that night savoring having nabbed defensive tackle Fletcher Cox with the 12th overall pick, after trading up from 15 while holding on to two second-rounders, which eventually went for linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry.
He said "savoring" wasn't quite apt.
"Kind of reflecting on each pick and how we got there and who was on the board, and then going through my reports and the reports of our scouts, and just looking at it," he said. "I think it was the first moment, also, I had a chance to evaluate the undrafted guys. That's a big part of this for us, as well. We feel like we got some legitimate draft picks out of our undrafted guys. We always go into postdraft free agency with that intention, but it's so hectic that sometimes that doesn't work out."
One of the story lines over the past few days has been Roseman, who started out as the Eagles' fresh-faced legal counsel a little more than a decade ago, proving himself to a skeptical fan base. Roseman said the proof really is yet to come, in winning.
"I think it's important what these [players] do . . . I don't feel that [having proved himself] is ever going to have been the case. That's one of the best things about this city - the expectations are very high, and we have the same expectations here. In the worst way, we want to win a championship for this city, this organization," he said. "I think that just drives me . . . I think that would be an unbelievable moment for all of us. All the people at this table, all the people outside the building, and that's what kind of gets me going. I know that a lot of the things that we've spent the time doing [are] going to help us, going forward. I think that's what this offseason and this draft were about."
Roseman can't know how his offseason moves will turn out, who will get hurt, who might struggle in new surroundings, but he knows how the Eagles made the decisions they made, on signings, trades and draftees, and he said he feels they went about it all the right way.
"I think it's that we all feel really good about the process," Roseman said. "I talk a lot about that with my scouts . . . If the process is right, you can live with the results, because they're not always going to be perfect. I think we got to a point where the process is getting good for us. I'm so excited about that going forward."
This is Roseman's first "normal" offseason. Two years ago, the rules dictated by the expiring collective bargaining agreement severely limited free agency and made contract extensions very difficult. Last year, the NFL was locked out, so the draft came before anybody had a chance to sign free agents or make trades. Reading between the lines of what Roseman has said this offseason, I think he believes the Eagles reached on some prospects in the 2011 draft, not sure how else they would address holes.
Roseman talked Monday about "staying true to the board" and how he feels he was able to do that in 2012. Some of it was locking up key veterans to long-term deals before the draft. Some of it was trading for middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and signing left tackle Demetress Bell, after Jason Peters tore his right Achilles' tendon.
"You can say [you're going to draft the best player available] as much say you want, but if you have glaring holes on your team, it's hard to do that," he said. "It's hard to be disciplined. By being able to do what we did prior to the draft, it at least gave us the flexibility to not have to have something. There's a difference between wanting and have to. And I think that's where we were going into this draft, and it's fun to be able to do that."
Roseman said he wasn't implying that he deserves a pass for last year, or for 2010.
"I just want to be clear, I don't want to sound like I'm making any excuses here, because I take full responsibility for everything that's happened since I became general manager, but I can't tell you that this hasn't been the offseason where it's kind of gone the way that we kind of ran it off, according to plan, just in terms of the offseason process and having the order of it," he said. "Things come at you, though. This is the kind of job that you can never get too comfortable, because you're going to get smacked down. Jason [Peters] is a great example of that . . . I think you sit with your phone every morning and every night and you just look at it and you kind of take a deep breath and go, 'OK, good, we got through another day, another night.' That's the nature of the job.
"Because everything was kind of natural [this offseason], I was kind of excited. Because of that, we were able to do what we wanted to execute. Now, obviously, it's got to go - we have to have a good season."
Contact Les Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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