Philadelphia Eagles

Depth and runs: Eagles' Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas detail inexact science of draft

Depth and runs: Eagles' Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas detail inexact science of draft

Last year around this time, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas were in a similar situation. 

While Douglas was still with the Chicago Bears, both he and Roseman thought their respective teams would be able to wait a while to select a defensive tackle in a draft class that was considered to be exceptionally deep at the position. 

They were both wrong. 

"Even though a draft may be deep at a position, it doesn't mean that they're not going to come off," Douglas, hired last May, said Thursday morning at the Eagles' pre-draft availability. 

There was a run of defensive tackles in the 2016 draft. Every team, it turned out, wanted their guy. 

So the Bears' draft board was wiped clean of defensive tackles by the end of the second round and the Eagles' board was wiped clean not long after. Both teams were left without a player from a position that was considered to be deeper than others. 

"But you don't know," Roseman said. "There are years where positions that are deep and you get into the fifth, sixth, seventh round and you see guys that you really like. It will be really exciting to see what happens at some of those positions." 

This year, most experts, including Roseman and Douglas, have said the deepest positions from the draft appear to be defensive back, running back and tight end. As you might have noticed, the Eagles have glaring needs at two of those positions heading into next week's festivities. 

Having needs at positions of strength in the draft is obviously a good thing. But the problem is, no one knows exactly how things will shake out after the draft begins next Thursday night. 

The Eagles just try to predict the future as best they can. 

"The way that we do that, is our pro department, led by (director of pro scouting) Dwayne Joseph, they go through team needs," Roseman said. "So you can kind of figure out, or try to figure out, teams that have a particular need that may be addressing that position in the first couple of rounds anyway, especially with a strong draft. Or guys that have put a lot of resources in a position. We do that to the best extent that we can, but it's an inexact science." 

That scientific process is made more convoluted by the fact that all positions are not created equal. Does a running back or tight end have as much value as a cornerback? For some teams, yes. For others, no way. 

Some teams, for instance, just simply won't take a running back in the first round of the draft. 

"There are teams that are just philosophically opposed," Roseman said. "We have had a lot of philosophical conversations over the last year and I think it's important you stick to your core beliefs, whatever that means. And you have to be disciplined."

Of course, when it comes to running backs in the first round, Roseman declined to say on which side of that philosophical line the Eagles fall. 

And while Douglas said he could argue running back is a premium position after the success of Ezekiel Elliott last year, the Eagles haven't taken a running back in the first round since Keith Byars in 1986. And Baltimore, where Douglas cut his teeth, hasn't taken a running back in the first since Jamal Lewis in 2000.

After taking philosophy and the depth in this particular draft under consideration, the work isn't done. The Eagles -- and assuredly other teams -- don't act as if individual drafts are in a vacuum. They've already analyzed the depth at upcoming drafts in an attempt to maximize this year. The weakness in this class at quarterback is one of the reasons the Eagles made a strong push to get Carson Wentz last year.

"We have done that for a couple positions to make sure that we're not sitting there saying, 'this position is so great,'" Roseman said. "And then next year, and go it's pretty good next year too, maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. We've done that to a couple positions in this draft that we think are strong and we looked ahead and said, 'is it uniquely strong? Or is it a position that every year, there are good guys coming out?'"

In recent history, the Eagles have had considerably more success in the first round when drafting in the teens than in the 20s. The last three picks in the 20s have been Nelson Agholor, Marcus Smith and Danny Watkins, while the last three picks in the teens have been Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jeremy Maclin. So while they will listen to trade offers as they come in, it might behoove them to stay put. 

If they do, two of the biggest names associated with that 14th pick just happen to be two positions of need and two of those deep positions we mentioned earlier: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State CB Gareon Conley. 

Both have followed a similar path over the last few weeks, in that they have risen up media draft boards. When it comes to Conley, Douglas seemed to think the lag was on the media's side, not with team evaluations. 

"Our staff has done a great job of getting Conley on the board early for us as a guy that has unbelievable talent," Douglas said. "With Gareon, the speed jumps out, the length jumps out. One of the best leaders on their team, on their defense."

The recent news with McCaffrey is that he has reportedly decided to not work out privately for any teams. Roseman made sure to point out this is not unique to just this player and Douglas made it seem like it wasn't a big deal to him. 

There have been no reports of the Eagles' bringing McCaffrey in for a visit, but that doesn't mean they're not interested. His history is clean and without the ability to work him out, using a private visit on him might not be worthwhile.  

"Every player, every running back in this draft has his strengths, his weaknesses," Douglas said. "Christian is a versatile back. There's a lot of versatile backs in this draft." 

Which begs the question: Where will the Eagles pick one? 

We won't find out for another week. The draft is like an iceberg. What we see is about 10 percent. The rest of it is behind the scenes in preparation. It's a science, as inexact as it might be. 

NFL Notes: Bills' Anquan Boldin announces retirement

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AP Images

NFL Notes: Bills' Anquan Boldin announces retirement

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Anquan Boldin says a violent, racially charged protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, caused him to re-assess his priorities and led to the Buffalo Bills receiver's decision to retire after 14 NFL seasons.

In interview Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said he's "uncomfortable" with how divided the nation is and wants to dedicate his entire focus to humanitarian and criminal justice work.

Boldin spoke a day after abruptly informing the Bills he was retiring a little under two weeks after signing a one-year contract. Saying it wasn't a "fly-by-night decision," Boldin says he gradually came to the realization that his off-the-field work outweighed football.

The NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Boldin oversees the South Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for underprivileged children. He has become an advocate for criminal justice reform since his cousin was killed by a plain-clothes police officer along the side of a Florida highway in October 2015.

Broncos: Siemian reportedly wins starting QB job
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- A person with knowledge of the decision has told The Associated Press that Trevor Siemian will be named the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback after beating out Paxton Lynch.

The person requested anonymity to speak candidly prior to coach Vance Joseph's news conference at 3:15 p.m. EDT Monday in which he's expected to make if official.

Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern who won the starting job last year when he beat out veteran Mark Sanchez, quickly surged ahead of Lynch, a first-rounder in 2016 from Memphis, when training camp opened.

Lynch showed more comfort with the new scheme and coaching staff but still proved inadequate at decoding defenses while Siemian was steady and solid, if unspectacular.

Jets: Lee, Williams cleared of conduct violations
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets players Darron Lee and Leonard Williams have been cleared by the NFL of any violations of the league's personal conduct policy following a review of an incident at a musical festival in New York in June.

In a moment caught on video and splashed across social media, Williams stepped in front of Lee , who had an argument with a girlfriend, according to coach Todd Bowles. Williams then briefly lifted and forcibly removed his teammate from a potential altercation.

Lee was not arrested or charged with anything resulting from the situation, and he wasn't disciplined by the Jets.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Monday that the league "concluded there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that there was a violation of the personal conduct policy."

ESPN first reported the NFL's decision.

Eagles-Dolphins practice 10 observations: Alshon Jeffery's big day

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USA Today Images

Eagles-Dolphins practice 10 observations: Alshon Jeffery's big day

Training camp is technically over, but the Dolphins are in town for two joint practices before Thursday's preseason game at the Linc.

The Eagles and Dolphins held a lengthy pre-solar eclipse practice under the full power of the sun on Monday morning into the afternoon.

Here are 10 observations from the joint session:

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks left early on Monday. No word about Hicks yet, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Graham suffered a strained tricep that wasn't considered serious. With Graham inside, rookie Derek Barnett took first-team reps at left defensive end. And second-year player Joe Walker filled in for Hicks because Najee Goode wasn't practicing, either.

Barnett returned to practice on Monday after missing Sunday with what Doug Pederson called a "lower-body injury."

2. Plenty of notable folks came out to watch practice today: Charles Barkley, Marvin Harrison, Freddie Mitchell, Stephen Tulloch.

Tulloch, who spent last season with the Eagles, retired this offseason. He's enjoying his retirement but was happy to check out practice on Monday. He owes a lot to Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Dolphins DC Matt Burke, the latter of whom was with Tulloch in Tennessee and Detroit also.

3. Carson Wentz got a ton of reps on Monday because the Dolphins didn't come all the way here to practice against themselves. He went to Alshon Jeffery a ton on Monday during 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s. Jeffery had one of his best days of the summer.

"He's very physical," Byron Maxwell said of Alshon Jeffery. "Getting off the line, you definitely need that too. Philadelphia, they've got three different receivers that can do different things. You've got [Torrey Smith] that can take you deep. Jeffery is a guy that can use his body well."

The best ball Wentz threw all day, though, came on a deep pass to Torrey Smith, who beat old friend Maxwell for a touchdown.

A couple plays later, Wentz hit Jeffery for a touchdown after Maxwell was beaten again. On that one, it looked like Maxwell might have expected safety help that never came.

4. Maxwell and Kiko Alonso had rough returns to their old practice fields. Maxwell was beaten for three touchdowns, two to Smith and one to Jeffery, while Alonso was beaten on a quick pass to Darren Sproles near the goal line.

5. If you were hoping to hear about fights or chippy play between the two teams on Monday, it didn't really happen. The closest it got was when Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Stills jawed a little bit after a completed pass to Stills from Jay Cutler. Nothing came of it. Although, Jenkins is the odds-on favorite to get in a fight from the Eagles' defensive players. For the offense, Jason Kelce gets the nod.

6. Cutler had a pretty good day against the Eagles' defense. After practice, the quarterback who the Dolphins lured out of retirement said he feels pretty rested after joining the team late, looked like it. He was whizzing footballs into his receivers. He kept finding Jarvis Landry in the end zone during red zone work.

7. The Eagles ran a fake field goal on Monday! Donnie Jones took the snap from Jon Dorenbos and rolled right before hitting Brent Celek. It worked!

8. Nick Foles has looked really good since coming back from his elbow injury. It's almost shocking how much better than Matt McGloin he is. On Monday, he kept connecting with Trey Burton. That could be something to watch if Foles ever plays in a game this season.

9. Nelson Agholor made a great catch with a Dolphins defender blanketing him. It was probably the catch of the day.

10. Wentz's arm isn't showing any signs of fatigue after a long summer. He absolutely threw a rocket to Mack Hollins. The laser of a throw made a loud sound as it collided with Hollins, who went to the ground to catch it. It was a perfect throw where only Hollins could get it.

Stupid Observation of the Day: Yes, Kiko Alonso was of course rocking a crop top on Monday.