Roseman on drafting Watkins: 'I was wrong'

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Roseman on drafting Watkins: 'I was wrong'

September 3, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Howie Roseman on Tuesday took full responsiblity for drafting Danny Watkins (right) in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. (USA Today Images)

Good luck trying to get to the bottom of how and why Danny Watkins was really drafted.

Nobody in the Eagles’ front office has ever taken the blame for one of the worst first-round picks in franchise history. Watkins was released Saturday after starting only 18 games over two seasons.

Until now.

Andy Reid was overseeing all personnel decisions at the time the Eagles made Watkins the 23rd pick in 2011. Howie Roseman was the general manager who scouted him. Joe Banner was running all football operations.

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, speaking when the club pushed Banner out of the NovaCare Complex last year and promoted Roseman to GM, exonerated Roseman for the weak 2010 and 2011 drafts, saying he wasn’t responsible and indicated that Banner was.

This has all come up again now that the Eagles have cut ties with Watkins, who resurfaced Tuesday with the Dolphins.

Although Lurie took Roseman off the hook, Roseman on Tuesday night blamed himself for the pick.

On the first installment of his weekly radio show on 94 WIP, Roseman conceded that his evaluation of Watkins as an NFL prospect was indeed flawed.

“First and foremost, obviously the evaluation of the player wasn’t right for where we drafted him,” Roseman said. “I did bring up the players to Andy and Joe to talk about them because that was my job.

“Me and the scouts went on the road and we found players, and obviously there were things we liked about Danny Watkins, and I’m telling you on that evaluation, I was wrong. I thought he was going to be a good player in this league.”

Banner is now CEO of the Browns, where he oversees all personnel decisions, and Reid is head coach of the Chiefs, where he doesn’t.

Roseman has overseen the last two drafts, which have produced promising prospects such as Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Bryce Brown, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Bennie Logan.

And Roseman said it was the Watkins pick along with the equally disastrous Jaiquawn Jarrett pick in the second round that really drove the point home that the Eagles had to find a better way of running the draft.

“We went from a team that felt like we were really close to winning a championship and maybe going into the draft and saying we had to get a particular position to a team that now drafts the best available player,” he said.

“I think that’s the real positive we can take out of that situation, and we learned a lot from it, and I think that was kind of the tipping point for us and how we were going to do things.

“When we went into that [2011] draft, we went in saying we had to get a guard, we had to get a safety, so we were going to take those positions. And when you go into a draft saying you’re going to take a particular position as opposed to taking the best player, you’re really limiting yourself.”

Roseman Tuesday night also addressed the unpopular decision to keep Casey Matthews, the third-year linebacker who the Eagles kept over two promising young linebackers they released -- Emmanuel Acho and Chris McCoy, who both enjoyed very impressive preseasons.

Matthews, who began his rookie year as a starter, was benched after three games and played only 42 snaps on defense all last year.

He did not have a productive preseason, and played particularly poorly in the preseason finale against the Jets Thursday night.

Popular fan sentiment was that Kelly kept Matthews instead of Acho or McCoy because Matthews was with Kelly at Oregon.

Not true, Roseman said.

He said the Kelly kept Matthews because of what he called Matthews’ ability to back up at outside linebacker and also play inside, and contribute on special teams.

“Chip’s very selfish in the fact that he just wants to win games,” Roseman said, “and he’s not picking players based on where they went to college, he’s picking players based on who can give us the best chance to win games.

“When we talk about Casey, right now for our football team, we need somebody who can go into the game at outside linebacker and play there, and Casey has some experience playing the outside spot in this defense, he’s also played the inside spot.

“He’s played special teams, so looking for a guy who can play those kind of roles … Casey wasn’t totally healthy in the Jet game, he played through that.”

Roseman didn’t specify what injury Matthews has.

Roseman said Matthews and everybody else on the roster has to produce to keep their roster spot.

“This whole roster is going to be a constant evaluation,” he said. “Guys aren’t on scholarship here, and we’re looking for the best players and you’ve seen the last couple days, and we’re continuing every day to try and find players that will help us.”

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