Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas sat next to each other Thursday, the public faces of the front office, side by side as they have been so often this offseason. The Eagles need these two in lockstep, and they've made efforts to create that perception.
The NFL draft next week will be the biggest test yet to show whether it is a reality.
"We've put egos aside," Roseman said. "Since he's been here, have we done everything I've wanted to do? No. Have we done everything he's wanted to do? No. But have we done everything right for the Philadelphia Eagles? Yes. Some of that is humbling, when you have to admit mistakes - on my end, really. But we want to do whatever it takes to bring a winning product to this city."
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Douglas, the Eagles' vice president of player personnel, is running the Eagles' draft for the first time. It's his maiden voyage with that responsibility after one year as the Chicago Bears' college scouting director and 16 years as a scout in Baltimore. He set the Eagles' draft board following a season introducing a new grading criteria to the team's scouts. Roseman, the executive vice president of football operations, maintains final say on all draft picks.
The annual pre-draft news conference offers philosophical information from the front office, but teams offer few clues about whom they will select.
Douglas identified the strengths of this draft - cornerback and running back, two Eagles needs, among them - and lauded first-round cornerback prospect Gareon Conley when asked. He said the Eagles have seven or eight scenarios at No. 14, and the team believes it will be able to assemble a list of 14 prospects who would interest them at that spot.
"We've got to put 14 guys on our board and be comfortable with the 14th guy on our board," Roseman said. "And that goes for every scenario. Zero quarterbacks drafted. Two quarterbacks drafted."
Of near-equal interest is how they will assemble those 14. That's where Douglas comes in. He said his grading criteria are not based on rounds but rather on "exactly where the player fits for the Eagles."
The board is assembled by tiers more than rankings, so when the Eagles are selecting at a given spot they will choose from however many players are left in the highest-designated tier. The front office has discussions about those tiers and potential trades well before the team is on the clock, which is why Roseman said they won't encounter a scenario in which a disagreement arises on draft day or veto power is needed.
"Joe and his team have stacked guys, so it's easy to pick them off the board," Roseman said. "You don't get into the draft room and just jump them for a different reason."
Douglas is shouldering a heavy load considering his relative lack of experience, but the Eagles have been deliberate in promoting his football acumen. Particular attention is paid to his time under Ravens Hall of Fame executive Ozzie Newsome, whom Douglas called "one of the most consistent and poised people I know." From Newsome, Douglas said, he took "philosophies we have in place as far as toughness and instinct," and anytime Douglas speaks he emphasizes the importance of a player's passion for football.
"Because when you get to this level, everybody is talented," Douglas said. "There's a prerequisite of talent. We're trying to find the people you can't really measure - mind and spirit and soul and their will to win."
Roseman said he's been "rejuvenated" by working with Douglas as have other longstanding executives exposed to a different way of evaluating players.
"It started with when we hired him to use a different grading style and getting us all acclimated into the way he talks about players and the way he grades players, and it goes the same way as we go through he free agency board and draft board," Roseman said.
Douglas acknowledged that the two "bring different things," and the key to the partnership has been communication. Douglas respects Roseman's energy and passion. Roseman appreciates Douglas' patience and commitment to his philosophies.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is right," Douglas said. "It just matters if we are right. Nothing's more important than that team and those players and having the right atmosphere and environment for those guys."
The results won't be apparent after the seventh round. It takes time for draft picks to develop, so the Roseman-Douglas partnership cannot be graded until a better sense emerges of what their draft picks have become. But any expectations of draft-room drama should end for now. The marriage is harmonious.
"Once we get to Thursday night," Douglas said, "you just let the board come to you."