NFL Draft: How Howie Roseman Can Be a Philly Hero

We're desperately seeking a good GM.

Even though Eagles GM Howie Roseman is treating the revelation of exactly who will have final say on the team’s draft picks later this week as if it were Coca-Cola’s secret formula, there is an undeniable opportunity awaiting him. At a time when all four of the city’s professional sports teams are floundering, largely because of questionable—or, in the Sixers’ case, outright irresponsible—personnel decisions, Roseman can move to the top of the management heap by assembling a crop of draft choices capable of helping the Eagles begin their rise out of the NFL morass.

Given the state of Philadelphia’s sports climate, we need a hero. We need a good GM.

During a briefing last week, Roseman told assembled media members that he and new coach Chip Kelly would collaborate on the picks, keeping alive the Eagles’ tradition of refusing to provide direct answers about personnel matters and establishing them as one of the few NFL teams without a solid chain of command in that area.

Even if Kelly has significant input on whom the Eagles select, Roseman’s business cards carry the title of General Manager. Because of that, he should be held responsible for the team’s composition. If he allowed owner Jeffrey Lurie to relegate him to figurehead status, that’s too bad. Kelly’s absolute lack of NFL experience makes him a bad candidate for control over major on and off-field decisions. With former overlord Andy Reid gone, Roseman will now be considered the man in charge.

This week gives him a chance to distance himself from his Philadelphia peers. The Sixers’ Tony DiLeo is a first-rate scout, but in a league filled with some excellent—and experienced—personnel minds, the Sixers need someone with experience as either the big boss or second in command. The Phillies are already in trouble, even though GM Ruben Amaro pointed out last week that 90 percent of the season still remains. That’s plenty of time for John Mayberry Jr. to turn into a big-time MLB player, the shaky bullpen to right itself, and Ryan Howard to prove he’s worth at least half of the ridiculous $25 million/per contract Amaro bestowed upon him, simply because someone mentioned that the Yankees might take a run at the first baseman.

As for the Flyers, the franchise has gone from an exciting club that made the 2010 Cup finals to one that has a shaky defense, a goaltending crisis, some beastly contracts and no spot in this year’s playoffs. GM Paul Holmgren has salary cap issues and a lot of rebuilding to do.

That leaves Roseman. The good news is that he doesn’t have to be all that impressive to improve on the recent Eagles’ drafts. The last three have produced a total of six full-time starters, including kicker Alex Henery, and no stars. The list of disappointments on from 2010-12 is long and includes such lowlights as second-rounder Jaiquawn Jarrett in ’11, and a collection of 2010 picks who spent much of their time on the team as healthy scratches on game day. Roseman would be wise to pin those drafts on Reid.

But he won’t get off so easily this year. This is Roseman’s draft, and he needs to make it a good one. None of the free agents the Eagles signed is likely to be a standout, so the team’s future will come from the draft. Let’s hope Roseman doesn’t imitate Reid and spend the day jockeying picks around, the better to grab an extra fifth-rounder in return for dropping down in the second. Take advantage of the team’s high spot in the first five rounds to select good players, and use the four seventh rounders to grab an extra pick earlier on.

We won’t know how well the Eagles did in this draft for a couple years, although it was pretty easy to declare the 2011 Draft a disaster pretty quickly. Jarrett in the second round?! What we will know right away is whether the Eagles act decisively to fill needs on their roster or take some big chances on “upside” that may end up setting back the franchise for years. It is important for Roseman to understand that the better NFL teams have been built by shrewd front-office types who understand the vital need to add pieces capable of performing on the field and fitting into a team ethos that leads to big success. If Roseman needs a blueprint, he should turn to the Ravens, who have built steadily through the draft and have reaped the dividends because of it.

At a time when Philadelphia sports teams face a crisis of proven leadership, Roseman has a chance to establish himself as the best of the bunch. Let’s see if this week proves to be the beginning of his ascent or just another disappointing chapter in what has become a disturbing downward trend.

Here’s your chance, Howie. Philadelphia needs a hero. Are you ready?

Are you able?



• Security will be tighter at Franklin Field later this week at the Penn Relays, but that should not dissuade anyone from attending the city’s best sporting event. Spending a Saturday afternoon in the ancient stadium’s bleachers soaking in the action is one of life’s underrated pleasures. You may not be able to bring a backpack, but you will be able to enjoy a true spectacle.

• I spent some quality time in the stands at Thursday’s Phillies-Cardinals game and couldn’t have been less impressed with the atmosphere. After years of buying into the “fun” of going to Citizens Bank Park and spending way too much money on, well, everything, fans have decided that their experience would be better if the team played quality baseball. That’s especially true when the team is selling a 24-ounce can of “super premium” beer for $13.25. It’s going to take more than a three-hour sales pitch disguised as a TV broadcast to get people excited this year.

• Monday’s Daily News provided a community service by publishing the photographs of this year’s Sixers players, the better to show everyone what a Lottery team really looks like. Some ugly contracts and the team’s amateurish handling of Doug Collins’ exit make it unlikely the team will attract any top-notch free-agent talent to town, so get ready for more of the same next year. Hooray!