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Inside perspective on how Joe Douglas sets the Eagles’ draft board

Interesting insight.

Joe Douglas made a curious comment during his joint media session with Howie Roseman at the Philadelphia Eagles’ facility last week.

Usually you hear scouts/executives/analysts talk about how they have so many “first round grades” on players. Douglas doesn’t employ that line of thinking.

In order to better understand how Douglas presumably sets the Eagles board, check out this interesting note in an article from former NFL executive Michael Lombardi on The Ringer.

Thankfully, Bill Belichick and I were always on the same page. When Bill joined the Browns in 1991, the two of us spent the better part of his first season designing our grading system. We wanted to define the prospect’s role on our team, and we wanted to predict how long it would take for him to achieve that role. That’s it. Instead of predicting rounds, our system forced our scouts to grade every player as (1) a starter, (2) a potential starter, (3) a developmental player, (4) a backup, or (5) someone who couldn’t make any NFL team. In Belichick’s room, no one was permitted to mention rounds — that job was for useless coffee-guzzling scouts and cliché-spouting TV commentators.

Our grading system became a language of its own; it proved to be effective enough that, even all these years later in Foxborough, little has changed. Ever wonder why the Patriots always move backward in the draft? Most times, their draft board features maybe 14 or 15 potential day-one starters — grades dictate everything. Why waste a first-round pick (and first-round money) on one of those 14–15 prospects if you believe you can land one later and land another asset?

Sounds simple enough. But how does this relate to Douglas and the Eagles?

As it turns out, the grading system that Belichick and Lombardi designed with the Browns was eventually carried over to the Ravens when the team moved in 1996. And as we know, Douglas worked for Baltimore for 15 years from 2000-2015. Ergo, Douglas is the next Belichick. (OK maybe not, but at least that’s what Todd McShay seriously seems to think.)

The grading system Douglas uses has certainly worked out well for teams like the Ravens and Patriots. Here’s hoping the implementation of this strategy in Philadelphia is just as successful.

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