The Eagles are days away from their first draft with Chip Kelly making final decisions and Ed Marynowitz as his top personnel executive, and the coach and the vice president of player personnel agree that it's not worth "mortgaging the future" for one player.
But Marynowitz conceded that this philosophy does not preclude the Eagles from trading up in the draft, which begins Thursday, and that they "never say never."
"Philosophically, we have eight picks and we would like to pick eight players or more - not less," Marynowitz said Thursday.
He added that the Eagles have discussed the number of draft picks they would surrender to move up in the draft. "I think we know what mortgaging the future is internally," Marynowitz said.
This is relevant because speculation that the Eagles could acquire Marcus Mariota will not dissipate, even if it might seem more difficult after the Eagles traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. The Eagles are slotted to pick 20th in the first round, and it will be difficult to find a prospect who is considered an elite player if they remain at that spot.
"I believe there's really eight to 10 players that are really true difference-maker types," Marynowitz said. "After that, it just depends on your system, your scheme, and what you're looking for."
When asked if Mariota is one of those players, Marynowitz said it "depends on who you ask." He would not get into the Eagles' evaluation of Mariota other than to say they're aware of him, which might be the biggest understatement that has come from the NovaCare Complex.
What stood out in Marynowitz's first public comments since taking the job Jan. 29 was his emphasis on prototypes at positions. This is consistent with Kelly's comments and will be reflected when the Eagles make their picks.
Marynowitz identified three criteria for the Eagles' evaluations: the height, weight, and speed of a player at a given position; the position-specific skills; and character, attitude, and intelligence. The Eagles picks - especially in the early rounds - need to satisfy these specifications, he said.
"You want to play with the odds, not against the odds," Marynowitz said. "And the odds are telling you that the majority of these guys who are under this certain prototype do not play at a starting level in the NFL. If you have seven draft picks, do you really want to waste one - especially in the top three rounds - on a guy that history is telling you . . . with this type of measurables doesn't produce at that level?"
This is a similar philosophy to the one Marynowitz learned as a personnel evaluator with the Miami Dolphins under Bill Parcells and at Alabama under Nick Saban. It's different from what he was exposed to with the Eagles when Andy Reid was in charge, and the emphasis could be even more evident on the roster now that Kelly has final say.
The prototype-specific approach allows the Eagles to pare their draft board. They funnel more than 12,000 college players down to 150 players on their board for the draft.
"The first step of that is we're going to cross-check height/weight/speed and fits," Marynowitz said. "So it's not to say we're going to totally eliminate a guy if he's outside those parameters. But he'd better be exceptional at a lot of other areas to take a shot on a guy like that."
Marynowitz sees the strengths of this year's draft class as offensive linemen, wide receivers, and defensive backs. Coincidence or not, those might be the Eagles' biggest needs. It also sounds as if Marynowitz believes there are cornerbacks who could play safety in the NFL, which would be helpful because the Eagles need safeties and the draft is believed to be short on starting-caliber prospects.
Former general manager Howie Roseman often recited the term "best player available" at this time of year. Marynowitz offered the addendum "for us" to make clear that the best player for the Eagles system and with their requirements could be different from another team's board.
"It's not just the best player available for the league, but we grade and set our boards for the Eagles," Marynowitz said. "It's according to our height/weight/speed parameters. It's according to how they fit in our system, how they compare to our roster, so it is the best player available, but it's the best player available for us."