We spent an hour yesterday at the NovaCare Complex with Howie Roseman and have already covered a variety of topics: the possibility of taking a quarterback, the Eagles’ trade options, the likelihood of adding an offensive lineman and the power structure in the draft room.
But there’s plenty more to get to. With the disclaimer that everything should be taken with a grain of salt this time of year, here are three leftovers from the Eagles’ GM.
1. One of the more surprising responses from Roseman came when he was asked about Nolan Nawrocki’s Pro Football Weekly scouting report on Geno Smith.
Nawrocki wrote that Smith wasn’t a student of the game and questioned his work ethic. The Eagles have done plenty of homework on the West Virginia QB. Chip Kelly, Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie traveled to Morgantown to work him out, and Smith also came to Philadelphia for an official visit.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinions,” Roseman said of Nawrocki’s report. “We do a lot of research and background on these guys. We trust our scouts. If we have any question about stuff that’s in our scouting reports or if something comes up, we look at it. We make sure that we spend the time investigating it, and that’s someone [Nawrocki] who has a lot of credibility, and obviously he spent the time getting his resources in place to put out that guide. But when anything like that comes up, we really trust the information that we have.”
The way I read that? Roseman is saying that Nawrocki’s scouting report had no effect on how the team views Smith. At the same time, he had an opportunity to say something positive about Smith – even just about the QB’s character/work habits – and didn’t do so.
Maybe Roseman didn’t want to let on that the team really likes Smith, or maybe he doesn’t think Nawrocki’s claims are that off-base. We should get an answer one way or another on April 25.
2. Across the board, analysts and evaluators are high on this year’s safety class.
“The safeties in the draft is an encouraging group,” Roseman said. “You compare it to the last couple of years, and there might be more guys who go in the first three or four rounds this year than have gone in the last couple of years combined.”
Of course, that does the team no good if it picks the wrong guy. In 2011, the Eagles struck out on Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round. The year before, they took Nate Allen, who was benched in 2012 and will be fighting for a roster spot this summer.
But this could very well be the third time in four years the Eagles take a safety in the second round. I asked Roseman if the organization has changed anything about its approach in evaluating safeties.
“I think it’s studying the players in the league who are doing it well, and how they’re doing it well, and what are their strengths and weaknesses,” Roseman said. “And scheme’s very important. What you’re asking these guys to do, what can they do in terms of your scheme, in terms of the scheme they’re in. And sometimes when youre asking ta guy to do something that’s very difficult, maybe even take Ronnie Lott in his prime and it’s difficult for him to do. Or it can be something that’s just player-specific. You’re looking for certain traits in a player at the safety position that may be hard to find.”
Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently wrote a Yahoo Sports column about the evolving nature of safeties. In the past, it might not have been considered a premium position, but that’s changed, given what safeties are expected to handle.
Expect new vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble to be of service here. He was with the 49ers when they drafted two-time Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson in the fourth round back in 2007 and also in 2011 when they signed Pro Bowler Donte Whitner.
Everything depends on how the picks fall, but don’t be surprised if the Eagles add a safety on Day 2.
3. Evaluating character is part of the draft process. That now extends not only to what prospects are doing out and about on college campuses, but what they are doing on social media.
“We have someone looking over Facebook pages, Twitter accounts. In front of us will come every single person on our draft board, their Twitter accounts and their Facebook accounts,” Roseman said. “It’s important, how they represent themselves in those settings, and I think you see the process they go through. They Tweet certain things, and once the draft process starts, all of a sudden, they shut it down, or they’ll say things that are really positive, and those are discussions we want to have. Those are the players that we’ll want to spend extra time with, and understand and get into their mindset. What’s going to happen when they get drafted and get some money? That’s part of the process.”
Of course, the most important factor is whether a prospect can play or not. But given the issues the team faced last year, there does seem to be an added emphasis on making sure new players fit in the locker room.
While Roseman conceded that guys in their early 20s make mistakes, he didn’t downplay the role of social media in evaluating character and background.
“What you see with most of these guys who do questionable things on Facebook, Twitter, is they probably have done other questionable things,” Roseman said.