Tom Gamble’s most recent stint with the Eagles could be a short one.
The Eagles, you may have heard, have taken a hit at the wide receiver position. Jeremy Maclin is done for the season with a torn ACL. Arrelious Benn has been dealing with a knee injury for almost all of camp so far. And, well, Riley Cooper (though his roster spot is safe for now, per Chip Kelly).
What is going on behind the scenes in the personnel department as they scan the league for potential help? New Vice President Of Personnel Tom Gamble gave us a little peek:
“We went through [a list of available guys] [Wednesday], and ran a list of guys with eight or more games, and some guys recommended,” said Gamble. “We went through a whole bunch of lists; got boards up. You’re checking medical, you’re checking background, you’re doing your tape work, you’re making sure multiple people have seen guys. You kind of have that, you see what’s here, and we’re ready to go.
“Most of the guys that are out there have played at a high level, usually there’s a problem, an issue, a medical, something out there that you have to kind of work through. And maybe right now before you’ve played a game it may not be time to throw another guy into the mix or kind of suppress somebody else. It’s time to let those guys step up, and there will be time to pick up some guys and talk to some other clubs. That’s constantly ongoing in this thing, constantly evolving, constantly taking phone calls, talking to people.”
Gamble explained that members of the personnel staff are assigned different teams around the NFL to monitor during the preseason so that all 31 are covered. Gamble is in charge of the Niners, obviously, seeing as he served as one of their architects over the previous eight seasons. And he is in charge of a couple other clubs as well.
“I’ll know those teams. I’ll be an expert on those teams. So, whether it’s a trade or a cut down conversation, there are teams that I’ll know in and out. Well other guys have the same responsibility and then we’ll kind of compile as we go. You’re going through sports scans every day, kind of keeping up with injuries and who looks good and those type of things.”
They’ll use every resource available, including write-ups online and in the newspaper, to help guide them towards the good players.
Chip Kelly, as we know, is big on size. He has specific measurables in mind that serve as a guideline for talent evaluators. According to Gamble, though, Kelly is more focused on intangibles at the moment.
“Here, (measurables) are something that we talk about but, let’s see how it goes and how these guys fit,” said Gamble. “I think the character part of it, the work habits, the work ethic, how the guys are wired…We talk about it all the time: ‘If I have to impose a lot of rules and sanctions, I’m bringing the wrong guys to this team. We’re here, we work, we go about our business, we go about things the right way, I don’t have to police because we’re bringing the right guys in the building.’
“Going forward on who you acquire, that’s something that he wants to do and doesn’t want to bend on. Does that change? It might, but I think right now that’s kind of his staple and what he’s thinking. He wants solid people that work and give you everything they’ve got. It’s too hard of a business to constantly put out fires and deal with issues every day.”
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Chip Kelly wasn’t the only new face in the draft room for the Eagles this year.
In mid-February, the team brought Tom Gamble in as vice president of player personnel.
Asked about Gamble’s input, Kelly said, “It was really valuable. I knew Tommy from when he was with the 49ers because he was on our campus all the time at Oregon.”
“I’ve seen and had the chance to interact with Tom and talk to him about personnel and a lot of different things for the last six years. I go back to when Tommy was looking at kids when I was at New Hampshire. I’ve known Tom as a personnel guy in this league for a long time. When the opportunity for him to come on board came about, it wasn’t like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I was very familiar with him and very familiar with his work. I thought he was a great fit and we were fortunate to get him. His familiarity, not only with the Eagles, because he had been here before, but with Howie [Roseman] and also myself and some of the guys on our staff that knew him. If you’re a college football coach, you know who Tommy Gamble is because he has been on your campus looking at players for a long, long time. I think that familiarity helped with us getting along together.”
It’s been a period of dramatic change at the NovaCare Complex. As recently as the 2012 draft, Joe Banner was the Eagles’ president, and Andy Reid was the head coach.
Roseman is the most prominent name still remaining. Earlier this offseason, owner Jeffrey Lurie absolved the GM of any blame for the 2010 and 2011 drafts. Roseman will instead be judged on 2012 and 2013. He acknowledged that he’s never been a part of so much change since joining the Eagles 13 years ago.
“Definitely not. I’ve been here and we’ve had the same people here for a long time,” Roseman said. “You think about a year ago this time, who we had in the building and who we have in now, and it’s dramatic at every level. So I’d be disingenuous if I told you that I’ve been through it before and it was business as usual.
“But that’s what makes it so impressive about getting on the same page so quickly. And that’s not only with Coach and I. But it’s the personnel staff. We have a new video department. We have a lot of new things in this building. And it’s exciting for the future of this football team.”
Kelly, Roseman and Gamble. Working under Lurie, they’re the men in charge of setting the course for the new era of Eagles football.
WHAT YOU MISSED
T-Mac looks at the logic behind Kelly’s actions.
The NFL is looking into the Russel Shepard claims, Tim reports.
Breaking down the similarities and differences between the Lane Johnson pick and the Danny Watkins pick.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News has an excellent piece up where he talks to a player personnel executive about the Eagles’ picks. Here’s what the source said about seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer:
This is a helluva value pick here. We had him as a late-five. Some teams I talked to had him higher than that. Speed was the obvious concern. Ran a 4.65. But he plays faster than that. Tight in the hips and doesn’t have great recovery speed. But he’s got really good hand-eye coordination. Had seven interceptions as a nickel last year, which is where he’s going to play at this level. Eventually, I could see him being moved to safety. He’s going to help them right away on special teams. He was a gunner on their punt coverage unit and also can return kicks. He needs to get a little stronger. He only did the 225-bench eight times. I know he’s a corner, but that’s still pretty bad.
Brian Solomon over at McNabbOrKolb.com offers his take on the Matt Barkley pick:
If Barkley does win the starting job, the offense would certainly cater more around his strengths and the read-option would be relegated to a side show. But the one thing that’s tough for me to accept is that there was that much foresight in the selection of a fourth round player. To suggest that the Barkley pick — which Kelly himself admits he didn’t expect to make — speaks some broader truth about the planned direction of the offense may be reading too much into it.
Meanwhile, the 2013 edition of the Eagles cheerleaders swimsuit calendar will be photographed in New Jersey to support revitalization efforts of the shore after Hurricane Sandy. All net proceeds from the shoot will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, which has raised over $32 million from more than 22,900 donors. More details to come, but the shoot will take place between May 6 and May 9.
Still plenty to dissect from the draft.
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.
Howie Roseman has been hesitant to offer a straight answer.
Perhaps he doesn’t want to feed into the perception that he’s a power-hungry GM looking for maximum control. Or maybe it’s just a matter of Chip Kelly wanting the organization to project a team-oriented approach in all aspects of the operation.
But asked many times over the past few months who has the final say on draft picks, Roseman has given different variations of the same response.
It’s a collaborative effort.
It’s an organizational pick.
We’re working together to make sure we get a good football player.
Back in January, on the same day Jeffrey Lurie fired Andy Reid, he gave Roseman a strong vote of confidence, saying he only held the Eagles’ GM responsible for the 2012 draft. Lurie, one of the few men who’s been privy to the behind-the-scenes decision-making, sent Joe Banner and Reid packing.
Yet he gave Roseman added responsibility. So even if no one wants to come out and say it, the draft is his baby.
“What we do is, as a scouting staff, we’re watching 600 guys,” Roseman said. “And we’re narrowing those down. Think of it like a funnel. We’re narrowing down to then the coaches get involved, they’re the guys that we’re really excited about. And then we’re handing them to the coaches to evaluate and getting heir feedback on those guys.”
Kelly wasn’t hired until mid-January. He didn’t have his staff in place until the second week of February. By that point, the Eagles were a little more than a month away from the start of free agency.
In other words, he’s had a full plate. Kelly definitely has a say and has given Roseman parameters for different positions, based on scheme and preference. The Birds’ head coach also has an advantage, having come from the college ranks. Kelly sets the guidelines, but it’s on Roseman and his staff to deliver the goods.
This year, the Eagles’ GM has the help of new vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble. The Eagles brought Gamble on board in mid-February, and Roseman said he’s been a big help throughout the evaluation process.
“By the time we got him in, having some experience, going on the road in the fall, having his own opinions, not being influenced by our draft meetings, those conversations, that insight’s been extremely invaluable,” Roseman said. “A huge addition to our staff.”
So in reality, it is a collaborative effort. Roseman, Gamble, Kelly, scouts, assistants and others.
But down the road, when it comes time to judge the success of the 2013 class, it’ll be the GM’s name attached to the picks.
WHAT YOU MISSED
For the Eagles and Roseman, offensive tackle seems like the safest bet, writes T-Mac.
What’s the likelihood of the Birds trading down? Here’s the rundown.
Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like the Eagles are targeting Geno Smith.
One national report links the Birds to Utah DT Star Lotulelei.
The Eagles released quarterback Trent Edwards.
Tim takes a look at the team’s situation at wide receiver.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com takes a look at some later-round QB options, including Arizona’s Matt Scott:
While he has the physical ability to be an NFL QB, he needs to work on his QB skills. I don’t think Scott can challenge for a job initially. I think he’ll need a season of coaching. The reasons to love him are his running ability and the fact he’s a natural passer. He has a good arm and quick release. He has pretty good accuracy. Scott did throw 14 INTs. He simply makes bad decisions on some throws. Aggressive is good, but you don’t want to force the ball into a situation where there is more chance for a bad outcome than good. Scott did that at times.
NFL.com goes over the best and worst all-time picks for each franchise. Freddie Mitchell makes the list as one of the Eagles’ worst:
The Eagles were in desperate need of a playmaking receiver when they used the 25th overall pick in 2001 on UCLA’s Mitchell. What they got was a guy who never cracked 500 yards in a season and scored only five touchdowns during a 63-game run in Philadelphia.
The Eagles begin a three-day minicamp. We’ll hear from Kelly this afternoon.
INDIANAPOLIS — When the offseason started, it seemed likely that Tom Gamble would leave the 49ers and go to another team to become a general manager.
But that didn’t happen, and instead, he landed with the Eagles as vice president of player personnel. When the move was announced, an obvious question was: Why would the 49ers allow Gamble to make what appeared to be a lateral move?
“There’s a lot that went into that decision,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke Thursday morning at the Combine. “Tom and I have been friends for a long time and have worked together for an awful long time. It was a chance for him to get home.”
Often times, such front-office moves aren’t made until after the draft. But Baalke and the Niners allowed Gamble to walk a few weeks before the free-agency period began (March 12).
“It certainly is a difficult time to lose somebody, especially of Tom’s caliber,” Baalke said. “But at the same time, sometimes in life you’ve got to make those decisions and you’ve got to let people go home. It was something that him and I had talked about for over a year. It had came up again. So through those discussions, we were able to allow that to happen. Tough timing? Obviously. But I think that both sides feel good that the decision was made.”
In Gamble, Howie Roseman gets someone with a proven track record to replace Ryan Grigson.
“You miss an awfully loyal, awfully qualified individual that helps you set your board, helps you through free agency and the like,” Baalke said.
ALEX SMITH ON THE MARKET
One other note from Baalke: He pretty much confirmed what many assumed – that Alex Smith is on the trading block.
“I think that’s part of it,” Baalke said, when asked if he talked to Smith about being traded. “We’re going to look at all options available. Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn’t been decided.”
Smith’s availability could of course affect the potential market for Nick Foles, a topic we discussed earlier today.
Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.
From@NateCalvanese: What are the chances that Tom Gamble sticks around for a little while? I know he interviewed for a bunch of GM jobs this year.
Hard to say for sure, but there is reason to believe he could be with the Eagles for a while. For one, he’s from this area. Howie Roseman mentioned Wednesday that Gamble did not come aboard last year in part because he wanted to make sure the timing was right when it came to his family (he has a wife and three boys). Not sure he’s going to want to uproot again right away.
Asked why Gamble made what on the surface looks like a lateral move, Roseman pointed to his love for Philly.
“I think it speaks to his passion for this city and this fan base,” said Roseman. “He is about Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously that’s important to him. He wants to be part of building something, and building it with the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Also, Roseman mentioned the desire to bring in pieces that are in it for the long haul. I’m not sure they pull the trigger if Gamble wasn’t committed.
“In the last three years we haven’t had a lot of continuity and we want that,” he said, “we want guys who are going to be here for a while and get our system in place and get everyone on the same page.”
From@hotcakes_33: Roster overhaul coming. Is draft deep enough @positions of need that trading back for more 2’s/3’s worth it or need playmakers?
The way I see it, you don’t get to pick this low in the draft very often, so why trade out? Even if this class isn’t as loaded as last year’s, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a difference-maker. Think about it this way: with all the talent from all the schools across the country, only three players will have come off the board before the Eagles pick. There is a stud to be had . Maybe it’s not your franchise quarterback, but if it’s a tackle that anchors the line for the next decade or a corner that can lock down one side of the field for the foreseeable future, then it’s all good.
The Eagles are building this team back up and therefor won’t be as tempted to reach for immediate need. They can truly take the best player available at No. 4.
@LorenJCook: Chances we get Safety Jairus Byrd from Buffalo, ties with CK through Oregon?
Don’t think the chances are great. The franchise figure for safeties is expected to be south of $7 million — not a terrible price to pay for a 26-year-old with two Pro Bowl nods in four NFL seasons. Byrd would apparently like to test the market, but it is hard to imagine the Bills allowing him to walk.
Here is what former Eagles scout-turned-NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had to say about Byrd.
“I think he might be the best free safety in all of football,” Jeremiah said. “He gives you interceptions, gives you forced fumbles, plays the run, plays the pass. I don’t envision Buffalo allowing him to get out of town.”
We put out a list of available safeties on Wednesday. There are some pretty big names on their, including Byrd and Ed Reed. Because of the relatively low franchise tag number, expect this pool to shrink by the time free agency hits.
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Look closely, and you’ll see a pattern forming that speaks directly to Chip Kelly‘s plan of attack.
Offensive line coach, assistant offensive line coach; tight ends coach, assistant tight ends coach. Defensive line coach, assistant defensive line coach. And so on. There is a strength and conditioning coach, and a sports science coordinator to complement him. Kelly himself has former head coach Pat Shurmur on his wing.
Even the pair of linebacker coaches might not be all about the expected switch to a 3-4.
As defensive coordinator Billy Davis puts it: “We have two guys for every position.”
And now, Tom Gamble enters the fray to double-down on the personnel side in a big way.
It is true that Howie Roseman has been looking for a replacement for Ryan Grigson since he left, and spoke with Gamble last year about coming aboard. It is also true that the Gamble hire falls right in line with Kelly’s design. This is a coach that puts a heavy emphasis on efficiency: in meetings, in practice, in coaching, in games and in player evaluation. Now he has Gamble — a proven talent that played a part in San Francisco’s rise to the top of the NFC — to ensure the personnel vehicle runs on time.
“When you’re Vice President of Personnel, maybe you can watch 350 college players,” Howie Roseman explained. “You have to get it narrowed somewhat when you are the GM of the team. I think having guys that you trust in the building to narrow it down and help and have these discussions, it does allow you to be able to do other things.”
Roseman will have less on his plate, in other words, enabling him to do other aspects of his job better. Just as he funnels players to the coaches, so too will Gamble funnel players to him. The process is streamlined, to borrow Jeffrey Lurie‘s term.
Even though Gamble is quite accomplished, the plan is for him to report directly to the young general manager.
“He’s not an ego guy,” said Roseman. “He wants to be part of building something, and building it with the Philadelphia Eagles.”
The “no ego” theme has been a recurring one. Kelly just talked about that at his press conference on Monday when announcing his staff.
“No one has an ego,” said Kelly. “We all have the same goal and the goal is for us to win, not only win on the field next season when we start, but to win today. To come to work every day with an energy and an enthusiasm about how do we take this thing to different spots and that’s what we’re charged with. How do we do it better than it’s ever been done before? And we’ve got a group of guys that really understand what that’s all about.”
Smart football men (and plenty of them) working together to get the machine to hum. Divide the work up, define the roles and the plan, and then execute. That’s the idea.
The addition of Gamble should help considerably in the effort to reach high efficiency.
WHAT YOU MISSED
A little more on Gamble.
As we get closer to free agency, a look at the safety market.
Duce Staley says LeSean McCoy can be “the best to play the game.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Pat Shurmur favors more of a two-back system. From Reuben Frank:
“I think it’s important that you use more than one running back,” Shurmur said. “It’s a long season, and a guy can run out of gas quickly.
“If you have guys who are different, you can use them in different ways, and you try to play to their strengths. I think that’s important.
“I’ve always believed there’s a place on the roster for two good running backs. You have your starter, but the other guy needs to play so they can all get through the season.”
Plenty of Eagles fans have asked about Percy Harvin. Keep in mind that Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, may be thinking incredibly big when it comes to his next contract. He is reportedly ready to hold out if he doesn’t get a new deal, and may be placed on the trade block. From ESPN:
The high-ranking Vikings source told Anderson that Harvin classifies himself among the NFL’s top wideouts.
“[Harvin] is a star player in our league, but I would imagine that he sees himself in the class of the top wide receivers in our league,” the source said. “I do know at his production, when he was healthy, he was producing along with the Larry [Fitzgerald’s] and Calvin [Johnson’s]and those guys. I could see Harvin’s agent making the argument that he deserves their type of pay.”
The busy offseason continues. At this pace, September will be here in no time.
The Eagles are trying to build a Super Bowl contender, and are calling on an old friend who has experience doing just that.
The team announced Wednesday that have hired Tom Gamble to become the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel.
Gamble spent eight seasons with the 49ers, including the previous two campaigns as Director of Player Personnel. The 49ers reached the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl in those two seasons.
“Since Ryan Grigson left to become the General Manager of the Colts, we’ve been looking for the right person to fill his spot and we are excited about what Tom can bring to the team,” said Howie Roseman. “He’s not only a talented evaluator, but also a good man and the type of person you want as a part of your team. Tom and I have had a great relationship over the years and I know he’s excited to come home. He had a great run in San Francisco and they have been very successful over the last few years. He will jump right in with our group and get working on free agency and the draft.”
Gamble will report directly to Roseman and work in both the college and pro personnel departments.
The 49-year-old, now with 25 years of pro experience, entered the NFL as an assistant in the Eagles personnel department in 1988. He remained in Philadelphia through 1994, serving as a college scouting administrator, area scout, contract negotiator, and later as the director of pro scouting. He went on to work for the Jets, Ravens and Colts (where he served under Bill Polian) before landing in San Francisco.
Gamblie is a Haddonfield, NJ native. His father, Harry, was Eagles President from 1986-95.