JOE DOUGLAS stood next to Howie Roseman Thursday as the Eagles' player personnel vice president and their de facto general manager answered questions from TV reporters about next week's draft, then Douglas settled into a leather chair alongside Roseman as the duo endured a longer session with print reporters.
The predraft dance is a familiar one, but it felt different this time, Roseman taking the floor with a new dance partner. Douglas, now 43, joined the front office from the Bears after last year's draft, and a constant theme of this offseason has been Roseman's contention that Douglas represents change in the way the Eagles operate.
How much change? What kind of change?
There has been a lot of hard-to-pin down talk about "collaboration" in decision-making, as there was back in the days when Roseman, Joe Banner, Andy Reid and Tom Heckert all had their hands on the steering wheel. Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said last month at the NFL owners' meetings that Douglas, a longtime Ravens scout before his year directing college scouting with the Bears, will set the Eagles' draft board, and Roseman will make the decisions on Douglas' input.
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We don't know how that will work in practice. So far, Roseman seems almost deferential to Douglas, far more than he was to, say, Tom Gamble.
Asked about the process of getting to know Douglas, Roseman said he enjoyed "being able to learn about his experiences, what he's been through, the success he has - he's won two world championships (in Baltimore, as a scout), he's been a part of that. We've been to five (conference) championship games and we haven't won a world championship. So, it's about the team. Since Day 1, that's what he's talked about. It's a necessity to do that, and to put egos aside.
"Since he's been here, have we done everything that I wanted to do? No. Have we done everything that he wants to do? No. But have we done everything that's right for the Philadelphia Eagles? Yes."
From what Roseman and Douglas have said, some of the change Douglas has wrought is tangible, moving from grading prospects on what round they should go in to grading them on how well they fit the Eagles. And part of it is more ephemeral, the massive former Richmond tackle bringing a lower-key, more methodical counterpoint to Roseman's frenzied energy.
"Part of bringing him in here is trying to change what we've done, and trying to get better. It started when we hired him, about using a different grading scale, and getting us all acclimated into the way he talks about players and he grades players," Roseman said. "We have tremendous trust in Joe and his ability to put (the draft board) together. I think it's been a really fun process. It's really rejuvenated a lot of guys, including myself, who have been here for a while."
In changing the way the Eagles operate, "some of that is humbling, when you have to admit mistakes, on my end, really," Roseman said. "But we want to do whatever it takes to bring a winning product to the city. We feel like we have a lot of responsibility to the people working in the building, on and off the field, to our fans, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to do that over the long term, and (to) building a team that everyone's proud of."
Roseman said he didn't want to disparage other people who have guided the personnel department in the past - "really good people," but he said of Douglas: "I think he's incredibly patient, incredibly detail-oriented. Thorough. Wants to take a step back to think about anything before we do it, and I think that's helpful to me, because I am aggressive by nature."
What kind of players can we expect Douglas to champion? He broke into a broad smile Thursday when asked about Tim Jernigan, the former Ravens defensive tackle the Eagles signed in free agency. Douglas lauded Jernigan's competitiveness, called him a "junkyard dog."
"Joe likes guys who like football," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, when asked about Douglas. "He likes tough, hard-nosed guys, character guys. I sat next to Joe in the draft room for, what, eight years, and I think I know the kind of player he likes. He likes the kind of player that Eagles fans are going to like . . . Physical, tough, smart, those kinds of guys."
Douglas said Thursday that when you're sitting across from a prospect, "you're really trying to gauge, how much does this guy love football? Because when you get to this level, everybody's talented . . . We're trying to find the things that you can't really measure. Mind, spirit, soul, their will to win."
Douglas and Roseman share, probably with most NFL people, the desire to anticipate and discuss every possible scenario before the draft arrives, so that there is no on-the-clock panic.
"Once you get to Thursday night, you're fielding calls, you let the board come to you," Douglas said. He said he envisions "seven or eight" scenarios at 14th overall, where the Eagles pick in the first round.
Roseman seemed to exhibit some of Douglas' influence when he talked Thursday about trading up and trading down in the draft, and how maybe it's more important to get the guy you want, rather than to hang up the phone feeling you won the trade.
"We had kind of a set amount in the past that we would trade for a guy. A team asked for a little more and we were like, 'no, we're done, that's it,' " Roseman said. "If they ask for a little more (this year), are we going to do that? I think that's one of the lessons I've learned, is it's not so much about winning the draft as it is about getting the right players for the Philadelphia Eagles."
Before his one-year banishment from personnel at the hands of Chip Kelly in 2015, Roseman worked with an ever-changing cast of scouting people and was known as a difficult boss - insecure, abrasive, hard to please.
"I was a young guy who had a lot of responsibility. Sometimes when you do that, you want to take more on your plate," Roseman said. "You want to feel like, 'I've got to make these decisions because this is the role.' It's all about collaborating, and getting people's point of view, and then trying to make the best decision from the team. It's not, 'I want to draft this guy, this is what we're doing, I don't care what these seven people say.'
"That year off was the best thing that ever happened to me, personally and professionally. You need perspective."
Douglas brought along with him Andy Weidl, a regional scout for the Ravens who became Douglas' assistant personnel director here. Weidl, a 1996 Villanova grad, is an anonymous figure to most fans.
"Andy's passionate," Douglas said. "The most important thing to Andy is how a player's wired, what he brings to the foundation of the team as far as, is he a good fit in the locker room. No one loves scouting more than Andy. No one's going to work harder than Andy. No one has better relationships around college football than Andy.
"We've had a chance to work together since 2005. We see players similarly, but then, there's a handful of guys, we scrap it out every year. Andy's always going to give you his honest opinion with a lot of conviction."
Asked about working with Roseman, Douglas said: "The communication's been great from Day 1. I respect him immensely, as far as the juice, the energy, the passion. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who's right. It just matters that we're right. Step back; nothing's more important than that team and those players. And having the right environment, the right atmosphere for those guys."