Howie Roseman doesn’t talk to the media very often, so when the Eagles’ general manager met the press on Wednesday he had plenty of questions to answer. And of all the issues he discussed during the half-hour session, the last thing he had to say was the most important thing he had to say.
As the press conference was winding down, Roseman was asked about the importance of this year’s NFL draft to the future of the Eagles franchise, and his answer was revealing.
“No question,” he said. “It’s one of the things where you look back [in the past] and when we made some decisions, we compromised on guys, as opposed to just sticking to the [draft] board and doing the right thing, not based on a need, but based on who is the best player to be part of a core going forward. I sit here very confident that that will not happen again.”
So, Roseman acknowledged that he has made personnel mistakes before and he promised not to do it again.
So, do you believe him?
Even though Roseman can bask in the glory of Carson Wentz – he did cartwheels to acquire the second overall pick in last year’s draft and select the Eagles’ quarterback of the future – his draft record is not good. His free agent record isn’t good, either, for that matter, but he won’t get much of a chance to fix the Eagles with other teams’ players. For one thing, the Eagles don’t have a lot of room in their salary cap to sign free agents. For another, there aren’t any real difference-makers in the positions where the Eagles need help and the last thing they need to do is waste money again on players like Nnamdi Asomugha and Miles Austin.
That means the Eagles have to patch their many holes with their draft picks, and anyone who has followed the Eagles in the last seven years knows that most of their picks have been average at best. Roseman isn’t the only one responsible for that slide into mediocrity and former coaches Andy Reid and Chip Kelly had a good amount of say in personnel matters. But Roseman has been the general manager of the team since 2010 and in all of that time the Eagles have gone to the playoffs just twice and they haven’t won a single postseason game.
That’s why another important statement by Roseman on Wednesday could be good news. Last month, the Eagles hired Joe Douglas, who worked in the highly-respected Baltimore Ravens personnel department. At the time of Douglas’ hiring, nobody outside of the Eagles front office knew what his role would be. Would he have a strong voice or would he just be Howie’s yes man?
Well, according to Roseman, Douglas’ role will be substantial and even though the buck still stops at Howie’s desk. First, Roseman raved about Douglas’ “ability to lead the draft room, his ability to put the free agent board together … we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in March [leading up to the NFL draft].”
Roseman said the Eagles’ draft-day selections would be “a collaborative effort when we talk about who we are picking. And at the end of the day, the responsibility is mine.” But it doesn’t matter if Roseman has the responsibility as long as he knows to listen to somebody who knows more than he does. And Roseman seemed to acknowledge that Douglas is that guy.
“He’s got a way of looking and evaluating players that is different than what we’ve done in the past and, quite frankly, we needed that,” Roseman said. “He has full rein to set the draft board. He’s involved in every discussion we have about building this and I think we’ll start seeing dividends as we go through the offseason.”