It’s a deep draft. That’s what Howie Roseman said on Thursday when he met with the media at the NovaCare Complex.
Roseman mentioned wide receivers as a particularly strong group. That thinking dovetails with the opinions of some draft experts who believe the wideout class is solid this year. But what other positions are deep as the draft approaches?
“I think offensive tackles are strong,” Roseman said. “Certainly up top, it’s a really good group. We always look a year ahead. We try to look at the quality. We knew that last year. We just thought Lane [Johnson], when we were picking, is a really unique guy for us, for the fit. I think the corners have some interesting guys in terms of height, length. Those are good groups. But we thought the middle of last year’s draft was really good and we thought we could get some value in that group. Every draft, it’s who you pick.”
Wide receivers. Offensive tackles. Corners. You might have noticed which position of constant concern to the Eagles and their fans that Roseman didn’t mention. If you’re among those who have pined for a quality safety since the Birds bid adieu (that’s a word of French origin that means “get out”) to Brian Dawkins, you’re probably going to be disappointed by the way this draft plays out at that position. Put another, simpler way: Don’t expect the Eagles to land a safety that will anchor their defensive backfield for the next decade.
For an organization that doesn’t often reveal its inner thought process -- particularly when it pertains to the draft -- Roseman was remarkably candid about the safeties that are available.
“When you talk about the safety class, I don’t think it’s a good group overall,” Roseman said. “I think that you’re talking about a drop-off, certainly, when you get into Saturday.”
Uh-oh. If there’s a drop-off after the first three rounds, that doesn’t portend a positive development for people who are desperate -- or at least hopeful -- that the Eagles will come away with a safety of note from this draft. Roseman, by the way, isn’t alone. The general sentiment seems to be that this year’s safeties aren’t so good.
And here’s something else you might not be thrilled with: To hear Roseman tell it, the Eagles are pretty pleased with the safeties currently on the roster. When you’re done screaming or hyperventilating into an Eagles-branded tote bag, consider what Roseman said in support of his guys.
“But when we look at our safety group -- obviously we signed Malcolm [Jenkins],” Roseman said. “Malcolm’s ability to fit into this defense and be a quarterback back there for our defense.”
OK. Maybe you wanted the Eagles to land T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd this offseason. They didn’t. They went with Jenkins. That they like a guy they signed in free agency and openly support him isn’t surprising. But Roseman’s encouraging words and positive reinforcement weren’t limited to Jenkins. Which is the part that might bug you. Might want to grab that hyperventilation bag again.
“Earl [Wolff] and Nate [Allen], we’re excited about their ability to take a jump,” Roseman continued. “When we talk about athletic tools and what’s in their body, Nate is 6-2, 215, and he’s finally in the same system for a second year. You’ve got to be able to play fast. You’ve got to be able to not think. It’s very hard on a safety going through all those system changes, especially a young player who -- he was a quarterback in high school -- didn’t grow up playing the position.
“And then Earl as a rookie, I thought did a really good job before he got hurt. You talk about a guy who’s 215 pounds and runs a 4.4 [40-yard dash]. Unbelievable work ethic. Off the charts. We’re excited about those guys. ... That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t add if it’s the best player, but at the same time we expect those guys to take a jump.”
The math here is pretty simple. A thin draft class, plus the guys they have in house, equals probable disappointment for those of you who hope the Eagles will draft a quality safety.