Expect the Eagles to collaborate as they make their draft picks

The Eagles have done a remarkable job of convincing many of their fans that Joe Douglas, and not Howie Roseman, will be picking the players over the next three days of the NFL draft.

By stating that Douglas has been in charge of crafting this year's draft board, the team has given the impression that Roseman will simply check off the best available prospect on the new vice president of player personnel's list whenever the Eagles are on the clock.

If only it was that easy. There will be plenty of game-time decisions to be made, and Roseman, ultimately, will be responsible for making those calls. Does that mean the Eagles won't have a game plan or that they haven't prepared for countless scenarios? Of course not.

But to think that Roseman has sat idly off to the wings while Douglas, who was hired last May, was left to his own devices in ranking players would be ignoring the vice president of football operations' confidence in his own evaluating abilities.

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There's this public desire to believe, however, that the guy who looks like an offensive lineman - and, in fact, was once a tackle - is the one scouting the players, while the lawyer-looking guy with the non-football background is not.

Roseman has had his share of poor drafts and even worse draft picks, but he's also had some successes. There's a direct trail to his name. But Douglas, who had only one year as a college scouting director after 16 years as a scout before the Eagles tabbed him, has no tangible record.

That's not a criticism. That's just a fact. And yet, there is this assumption by some that Douglas will automatically be the second coming of Ozzie Newsome because he worked under him for most of his career and because, well, he's not Roseman.

Maybe he will. Douglas has some distinguished admirers around the NFL. He's been credited with pounding the table for some of the Ravens' better draft selections, including quarterback Joe Flacco.

But his most significant contribution, and the one the Eagles have adopted, could be his system for ranking prospects. Well, it's not his system. It's one used widely around the league in which players are listed according to how they fit in with a team - immediate starter, eventual starter, potential starter, etc. - rather than by round as the Eagles have done for many years.

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Daniel Jeremiah, who worked as a scout first with the Ravens and then with the Eagles before joining the NFL Network as a draft analyst, said that he was partial to the method used by Baltimore and other teams such as the Patriots.

"Because at the end of the day, from year to year, if you say this guy's a first-round pick, this guy's a second-round pick, well, that varies on the class. . . . It was just kind of confusing to me," Jeremiah said on Wednesday. "When you watch a guy I felt better about saying, 'I don't care what he is for the league, when he's going to get picked. I care what he's going to do for us when he gets here.' "

One of the perils with that system is that the players you may draft one year for a specific coach and scheme may not be ideal if said coach and scheme aren't around for an extended period. The Ravens have had the luxury because they've had only two coaches over the last 18 years.

"You've got to be careful," Jeremiah said, "but you look at the great organizations, they don't make changes. . . . The names might change, or the coordinators, but what they're doing is very similar. Ideally, you want to get to the point where you have the security to be able to draft toward scheme."

It's fair to wonder what kind of shelf life coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz might have in Philadelphia. But the Eagles did return last year to offensive (West Coast-based) and defensive (4-3 aggressive) philosophies they have had during most of Jeffrey Lurie's ownership.

Douglas also appears to have a slightly different way of looking at prospects, at least against some of the more notable misses the Eagles have had in the first three rounds since Roseman became general manager.

"You're talking about [a prospect] that's productive," said Jeremiah, who spent two years working with Douglas in Baltimore. "It's not going to be wishing and hoping. It's what guy's are."

Per Douglas, he wants players with "toughness, instinct and character." Jeremiah calls them, "reliable, accountable guys that are big in big moments."

"At the end of the draft," Jeremiah added, "I think you'll be able to look back on it and see a connective tissue between all the picks and say, 'OK, the Eagles are trying the become this type of a team. They're drafting a certain type of player.' "

While the Eagles have struck out on some potential long-term projects (Marcus Smith), they have also had the occasional hit (Lane Johnson). So it's important not to be dogmatic about either approach. That is where collaboration is key.

"It's all about collaborating and getting people's point of view and then trying to make the best decision for the team," Roseman said last week. "It's not, 'I want to draft this guy, so this is what we're doing. I don't care what these seven people have to say.' "

Newsome's greatest strength, according to former Ravens coach Brian Billick, is as a listener. He'll often pit scouts against scouts, coaches against coaches and scouts against coaches as they break down and argue over potential draftees.

"He takes it all in," said Billick, now with NFL Network.

If Douglas is to impart anything from the Ravens onto his boss, Newsome's open-mindedness may be the most important because Roseman ultimately has the final say.

"At the end of the day," Douglas said, "it doesn't matter who's right. It just matters that we're right."

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane