Much has been made of the in the ' selection of at No. 26 overall2014 NFL Draft by now. Some are even calling the Smith pick a "reach." Whether or not you feel that way, Eagles General Manager Roseman admitted the first round did not go exactly as the team had planned. (Quotes via Jimmy Kempski, who transcribed Roseman's interview with the WIP Morning Show.)
"When you're picking 22, you have to have some plans. For us, we had a bunch of plans and you have to understand that it's not always going to go according to how you think it's going to go.
"When you go into the first round, you normally don't have 32 first round grades, and certainly we did not have 32 first round grades in this draft. We had six guys that we were targeting, and we knew that some of them would not be at 22. That's why we were making calls throughout the week and spent a lot of time on the phone last night before we picked, in seeing if we could get up and get them."
So the Eagles had six targets they wanted for 22. Unfortunately for the team, those six were all gone by their pick was due. Roseman said the Eagles tried to trade up in the draft but it would have been too costly. What made trading up difficult for the Eagles was that they only had six picks in this year's draft to begin with. The other thing that compromised a trade up, according to Roseman, was the steep price the Bills paid to move up for Sammy Watkins at the top of the draft. That trade set a precedent for moving up to be costly. Look no further than the example of the Browns having to spend their 3rd round pick (83) to move up four spots from No. 26 in exchange for the Eagles' No. 22 pick.
Speaking of the Eagles-Browns trade, it's obvious that the Eagles moved down because all of the players they wanted at No. 22 were already gone. They felt they could add value later on in the draft and move down a few spots to get their guy. Roseman admitted that once they were on the clock at pick No. 26, however, they considered trading down again. The Eagles' GM ultimately opted against that route because it would mean potentially dropping down yet another tier of talent level.
So was Smith a "reach", then? Maybe a little. He obviously wasn't one of the Eagles' top six options. That doesn't mean he's a bust or a bad pick, though. The problem with the "best player available" concept is, as Roseman suggested, that it's not as simple as ranking players individually. It's more of a tiered-system. While the Eagles' draft didn't go exactly as they planned, they still walked away with a player they valued near the top of their board.
If they have the same grade, that's the hard part for us. When you're grading one by one, we basically give the definition of what we what we think those players are in that tier. We do rank those guys. To us, it's more important that they're in the same tier. It's hard to know 'Who's the 23rd guy? Who's the 24th guy?' It's where the drop-offs are."