The jury is still out on Howie Rosemans 2011 draft, too. Until Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh and Casey Matthews have at least one off-season to develop into NFL players, we cant be sure what sort of players they really are.
What Howie Roseman needed in 2012 was a slam dunk. A grand slam. A draft where the jury wouldnt still be out a year or two later. A draft where the jury was unanimous.
He nailed it.
There were no experiments this year. No reaches, no projects. There were no corners being converted into safeties, no ends projected as linebackers, no fourth-round picks selected in the second round, no Division II guys who piled up big numbers against shaky competition.
There were only exceptional prospects. Fast, young, strong, athletic college football players who should help the Eagles become a much better team. Immediately.
And Roseman, who has been criticized and even vilified by Eagles fans for a variety of reasons during his tenure as Eagles general manager -- sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly -- was the mastermind behind all of it.
I think every year that he has done it, he has gotten better and better, head coach Andy Reid said. Ill put him up against anybody. I think hes tremendous. Were very fortunate to have him here.
The fans have been tough on Roseman since his promotion on Jan. 29, 2010, from Vice President of Player Personnel to GM. Hes not a typical general manager. Never played the game, never coached the game. And his tenure as GM has coincided with a period in which the Eagles havent won a playoff game and havent drafted any players who have made a huge impact yet.
Last years draft did land starters Danny Watkins, Jason Kelce and Brian Rolle, and the 2010 draft produced starters Jamar Chaney and Kurt Coleman. But offensive linemen and late-round picks dont get fans excited. They want impact guys. They want Pro Bowl guys. They want studs.
Its all part of growing in the profession, Reid said. Youre going to take some lumps. Its tough to be a decision maker. You have to know how to put blinders on. When youre making calls, even if youre one of the best, you might be wrong 50 percent of the time. You have to stick to your beliefs. Youve got to block all that other stuff out and do what you believe in, and Howies done a great job with that.
Since the nightmarish 2012 season ended, Roseman has done the following:
-- Signed Demetress Bell in the wake of the Jason Peters injury, providing the offensive line with the best available alternative after the loss of the NFLs best left tackle.
-- Unloaded Asante Samuel and his high salary, clearing up cap room to re-sign Pro Bowl tailback LeSean McCoy, who is up after 2012, and possibly receiver Jeremy Maclin, who is up after 2013, while also clearing the way for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to return to his natural outside cornerback spot.
-- Without parting with one of their coveted second-round picks or even a third-round pick, traded up from No. 15 to No. 12 in the first round to draft defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who most experts assumed would be gone between the seventh and 10th picks.
-- Drafted highly regarded Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks in the second round, then moved down eight spots in the second round to acquire a fourth-round pick and still land defensive end Vinny Curry, a projected late first-round or early second-round pick.
-- With the newly acquired fourth-round pick, drafted Brandon Boykin, the Georgia corner who was projected to be a second-round pick and could be the Eagles slot corner and punt returner this year.
-- Signed several highly touted undrafted free agents, including several guys with a legitimate chance to make the team -- tailback Chris Polk, safety Phillip Thomas, cornerback Cliff Harris and receiver Damaris Johnson.
How productive has Rosemans off-season been?
Look at the roster when last season ended.
Look at it now.
Its impossible not to give Roseman very high grades for the makeover. The Eagles are much better at linebacker, much better on the defensive line. Theyre younger, faster, deeper and more athletic.
First, he really busted his tail to get those guys re-signed, our own guys, working with the agents and working with Joe Banner, team president to make sure the numbers were right so we could still have the flexibility we needed moving forward, Reid said. Then he orchestrated the draft and did a nice job with that.
Roseman is reluctant to talk about himself. He knows the fans have been tough on him, but he doesnt mind it. Hes tougher on himself than any fan can be.
Asked Monday if he feels like he finally proved himself to hard-core Eagles fans with this years draft, he didnt hesitate to say no.
I don't feel that is ever going to have been the case, he said. That's one of the best things about this city. The expectations are very high, and we have the same expectations here.
In the worst way, we want to win a championship for this city, this organization. I think that just drives me. I want to get to the point where, obviously, we have that and we win a world championship. I think that would be an unbelievable moment for all of us. ... And that's what kind of gets me going.
I know that a lot of the things that we've spent the time doing (are) going to help us, going forward. I think thats what this off-season and this draft were about. I think it's that we all feel really good about the process.
I talk a lot about that with my scouts. ... If the process is right, you can live with the results, because they're not always going to be perfect. I think we got to a point where the process is getting good for us. I'm so excited about that going forward.