The Eagles didn’t have a sixth-round pick last season. Howie Roseman does not like sitting idle during the draft. He stockpiles picks, averaging 10.25 picks during his first four seasons. Roseman wanted to pick. He’s the kind of person who lives for the third day of the draft, who likes uncovering the unknown in the late round.
So Roseman left the draft room. He went to the practice field and took a walk. Had he stayed in the room, he was worried he would trade a future pick. He walked for an hour, checking his phone for updates.
This is an amusing anecdote about Roseman’s draft obsession, but it also shows his aggressive nature with trades. Since Roseman became the general manager in 2010, the Eagles have made 13 draft-day trades.
The problem in 2014 is that Roseman lacks the assets. The Darren Sproles trade left the Eagles with only six picks. Roseman fielded so many questions about his relative dearth of picks that he joked he needed to wear a name tag that reads, “Only Six Picks.”
However, that does not mean the Eagles won’t trade up in the draft. Even with only six picks, Roseman sounded willing to surrender some for the right price.
“We would not be concerned with that if we felt like the value of the player is right,” Roseman said. “If we have a guy that’s in the top five in our draft, and he’s falling, would we look at that? No question.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Thursday that two potential options for the Eagles to move up to draft are UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Both are intriguing not just because of talent, but they play at positions of need with significant talent drop-off. So the Eagles likely won’t find an impact player at either position at No. 22.
“I think if we found a guy that we thought could be a long-term high-level starter and he was the highest guy on our board, whatever round that was, I’d still think we’d be aggressive about that, even though there would be a knot in my stomach,” Roseman said.
Roseman knows the Eagles will not fill all the needs. He referenced Super Bowl teams with weaknesses on the roster. The key is to have blue-chip talent and depth.
“Quality is going to trump quantity,” Roseman said. “If you look back at successful drafts, if you can come out of it with three starters, that is a really good draft. There are not a lot of drafts that you can come out and do that. So we still have enough picks to do that. Obviously, you’d always like to have more picks, but it is what it is at this point.”
In the past, Roseman has mentioned the benefit of more picks because they’re basically more lottery tickets. He can take more chances and afford more misses. Even if the batting average is lower, the hits could be higher.
I understand both arguments. If forced to guess, I think the Eagles have a better chance of moving down in next week’s draft than moving up. Unless that blue-chip player slips, the Eagles might be compelled to move back a few spots and acquire another pick in a later round, if there’s not much of a difference between No. 22.
At No. 22, the Eagles are also in an interesting spot for a team in the top of the second round trading up for a quarterback. Still, Roseman sounded as if he thought the Eagles would have attractive options standing still at No. 22.
Roseman is too aggressive to sit idle all draft, so I would certainly expect middle-round maneuvering. The question is whether he surrenders any players for more picks. Running back Bryce Brown, outside linebacker Brandon Graham, and defensive lineman Vinny Curry could be intriguing to other teams for roles bigger or different than the ones they hold in Philadelphia.
“Everything’s for sale, if it’s the right price,” Roseman said. “If anyone wants to buy my house for the right price, I’ll sell it right now. We’re not out there openly shopping guys, but in these conversations about moving up and moving down, teams will say, ‘where do you have depth?’
“But the end of the day, if you’re talking about established players, you better get the right value for them, because when you’re talking about later picks, the odds (of) hitting on those guys are really high. So if you have a guy who has a role and can do something really well, that’s hard to find with a later-round pick.”
All of this will make for a busy draft day. Roseman has already spoken to about two-thirds of the league about potential activity. By the time the draft starts, he estimates he would have spoken to every team in the league.
“It’s calls about moving up, it’s calls about moving back, “ Roseman said “A lot of it is going to be determined by who is on the board and who is off the board.”
With the depth in this year’s draft, it could make for more fertile trading opportunities. With uncertainty about when quarterbacks will go off the board, there could be even more trades. Roseman’s history suggests he’ll be a dealer, but only six picks already puts Roseman in a different situation than usual.
“We’ve been in drafts where we thought there was going to be a lot of activity, and guys kind of say, ‘I’m not moving anywhere. This is the guy I wanted, I don’t want the pick’,” Roseman said. “And there’s been situations where guys are trying to bail out – ‘Give me something. The value chart isn’t what I’m looking for, I’m just looking for fair value.’”