Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 4:37 p.m.
By Reuben Frank
Trying to get a read on Eagles general manager Howie Roseman isnt easy. He often speaks in cliches, restates the obvious over and over and just smiles and says nothing much at all when faced with a pointed follow-up question.
Amenable? Yep. Cooperative? Yep. Filled with information? Rarely.
Once in a while, hell sneak a tiny little nugget of information into the conversation that is so buried beneath an avalanche of banality that you miss it.
When he says stuff like, We just want players that are going to make us a better team, 500 times in a 62-minute interview, its easy to dismiss the whole thing.
And it can be a mistake.
Because sometimes those tiny little nuggets add up to something of substance.
With the draft a week away, Roseman met with the Eagles beat writers for an hour Thursday morning at the NovaCare Complex, and although many of Rosemans responses were typically vague and lacked substance, he actually snuck enough good info into the conversation that if we put the pieces of the puzzle together in just the right way, we might actually be able to draw some meaningful conclusions.
Lets start with the assumption that the Eagles wont draft a wide receiver, running back or quarterback in the first round, simply because they already have some of the NFLs best at those spots.
Now lets assume theyre not drafting a linebacker or safety in the first round, because they never do, or a tight end, because theres no reason to, and what do we have left?
Cornerback. Defensive line. Offensive line.
Now, listen to Roseman talk about the offensive linemen in this draft, and you can make a case that no matter how many mock drafts have the Eagles taking Gabe Carimi or Mike Pouncey at No. 23, the Eagles wont be taking a lineman in the first round.
In past years, youd get into the middle rounds and ... you worried that you were forcing up a guy because you wanted to draft an offensive linemen, he said. I think this year, we talk about maybe the top not being as strong its been as in years past, but maybe the depth is there more so than its been in years past throughout the draft.
Does that sound like somebody planning on taking a lineman at No. 23? Now, maybe its all a smokescreen. But Roseman genuinely seems to believe the Eagles will be able to address their offensive line need beyond the first round.
OK, now what about cornerback? The Eagles brought Colorados Jimmie Smith in for a visit, and a 6-foot-2 cornerback who can run would certainly seem to be something the Eagles could use.
But lets again listen to Roseman, who was asked whether he believes a quality corner can help a defensive line more than a quality defensive lineman can help a corner:
I think that the pass rusher can help your secondary ... when youre able to get a guy who can impact the timing that allows corners that arent maybe as talented to be able to play. Really talented corners can be thrown away from.
And then this: Defensive line is a really talented area in this draft.
Pieces of the puzzle.
Again, maybe were grasping at straws here. But Roseman seems also seems to be discounting the chances of the Eagles taking a corner at No. 23.
And if its not an offensive lineman or a corner, that leaves one thing.
And now listen to Roseman talk Thursday morning about the Eagles pass rush:
We always want to get more pass rush. We want to get more pass rush from everyone on our football team, and obviously thats going to be a focus for us.
We know Andy Reid loves to draft defensive linemen in the first round. Hes done it five times in the last 11 years -- Corey Simon with the sixth pick in 2000, Jerome McDougle with the 15th pick in 2003, Mike Patterson at No. 31 in 2005, Brodrick Bunkley at No. 14 in 2006 and Brandon Graham with the 13th pick last year. Another defensive lineman, Trevor Laws, was the Eagles first 2008 pick, at 47 overall.
One other scenario thats actually fairly likely has the Eagles trading out of the first round. In fact, other than taking a defensive lineman, trading down -- most likely with a team desperate for a quarterback -- seems to be the second-most likely route the Eagles will take Thursday.
If Reid and Roseman believe theres great value in the second and third rounds at the positions they need to address, why not?
Especially where we are in first round, Roseman said. I think thats where you anticipate some of the quarterbacks coming up, and obviously were at a great place in the draft to get some of those quarterbacks where theyre slotted to go, if someone wants to come up and get one of those quarterbacks. ...
With the calls youre getting right now, people are interested in moving up. They know ... if they want to get a quarterback that maybe at one point was thought to be in the second round ... (and) they want to make sure they get one and they get the one they want, its an area that you can come and move to.
So itll either be a defensive lineman. Or a trade. Or Roseman completely snowed us over.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com
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