McLane: Roseman will still have plenty of say in draft

Just because Howie Roseman said Joe Douglas would have "full rein to set the draft board," that doesn't mean he will ultimately pick the players.

"No, it's a collaborative effort when we talk about who we are picking," Roseman said Wednesday. "And at the end of the day, the responsibility is mine."

As the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations and Douglas' superior, Roseman was always going to be the one making the personnel decisions this offseason. He will either take credit or blame, and that is why it is fair to question the amount of authority Roseman will hand over to a relative unknown.

We will never know, of course. Sure, there may be dribs and drabs long after the draft, but never in a manner timely enough so that someone can be held accountable. Roseman is in charge, and whether he cedes control to Douglas or not, what matters most is that he gets it right because it's his reputation.

Poll

Are you confident in Howie Roseman’s plan for the Eagles?

On the surface, he appears willing to hand over some of the reins. Roseman opened his season-ending news conference with a statement that included calling Douglas "a huge addition," and citing his "ability to lead a draft room" and "put together a free-agent draft board."

The new vice president of player personnel, who was hired in May, may have some input on free agency, but it's clear that he was brought in primarily because of his college scouting background. With the salary cap and contract negotiations integral parts of free agency, it's difficult to imagine how Roseman would relinquish much of those duties to Douglas.

But as Roseman said again Wednesday, the Eagles are trying to get out of the free-agency business. Championship-winning organizations, for the most part, are built through the draft, and the Eagles, as they stand, have eight selections this year.

Their draft record since Roseman was named general manager in 2010 is dubious. Without going into great detail, there have been many more misses than hits. Roseman had nothing to do with the 2015 class that Chip Kelly bungled, at least at the top, by selecting receiver Nelson Agholor. But even Roseman would be the first to admit that when he was in charge the results haven't been good enough.

But does he look back at those classes and see more winners than losers in prospects he lobbied for, or does he look inward and come to the conclusion that maybe draft evaluation isn't his best suit? The contract extensions he gave last offseason to players he drafted - each with its own set of questions - suggest the former.

Roseman made a series of nifty moves to jump into the second spot and draft Carson Wentz. He gave up a lot, but his rationale was that getting a potential franchise quarterback offset the cost. He was also able to recoup some of what he lost.

There's never been much dispute about Roseman's ability to get value in trades and negotiations, although he has had his share of whiffs, as well. But can he look at a player and, more often than not, correctly project whether he can play in the NFL or on the Eagles? His track record is spotty.

Of course, if he got Wentz right it will cover a lot of mistakes. The rookie appears to have the tools to become elite, but not much else can be definitively stated. What is certain is that the Eagles failed to surround Wentz with impact offensive players in 2016 and now need to build around him.

Roseman has said as much. Douglas, who has spent a good deal of the last four months on the road searching for that kind of talent, understands that, as well. The 40-year-old scout did a few media interviews around the time he was hired, but the Eagles didn't make him available Wednesday, nor is he expected to answer questions soon.

Douglas spent 15 years with the Ravens as an area and national scout. He left in 2015 to take the college scouting director job with the Bears, but Baltimore was willing to let him walk. The Ravens have Ozzie Newsome entrenched at the top of their personnel department, but they have managed to keep second-in-command Eric DeCosta even though he has had multiple GM interview offers elsewhere.

It's also unusual for teams to allow promising evaluators to leave after one year, but Douglas wanted to return to the East Coast, and the Bears were apparently willing to grant him that request, not to mention an opportunity to move upward.

Chicago's first two draft picks last spring - linebacker Leonard Floyd and center Cody Whitehair - became full-time starters and showed promise, but giving Douglas credit for those early selections would be a stretch. He may have had more say in the later rounds, and the Bears appear to have scored with fifth-round running back Jordan Howard, who finished second in the NFL with 1,313 rushing yards.

Still, there isn't yet enough evidence that Douglas knows how to build a winning roster. He has paid his dues sleeping in Motel 6s and eating at Waffle Houses for a championship-winning club and has a football-playing background, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's the next Newsome.

Roseman noted that Douglas brings a different perspective to player evaluation, but he declined to get into specifics and would cite only the types of players they both saw it took for the Eagles and Ravens to hit their high-water marks.

Both were low on the totem pole during those glory years. Roseman has yet to take that knowledge and return the Eagles to prominence. Perhaps Douglas can. Roseman hired him for a reason. There's a lot of gray area in how personnel decisions are made, but whether they work in collaboration or one has more influence in the draft over the other, the bottom black line is that Roseman will ultimately be held accountable.

It's not as much about the doing as it is doing it right.

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

Continue Reading