For weeks, the 2017 NFL Draft seemed mildly solidified. There were proposed trades in mock drafts, but mock drafts are thusly titled for a reason: they bear little to no meaning on reality. They are, in effect, a mockery of what is to come.
And then, on Thursday night, what came made a mockery of “experts” everywhere.
The Draft zigged when expected to zag, and when expected to zag, it simply ran off the map. Three wide receivers, three quarterbacks, and two running backs were taken in the first 12 picks, marking a serious departure from recent conventional wisdom and tempered selections in the past handful of years.
All the while, Howie Roseman and the Eagles bided their time. They didn’t force their hand when players like O.J. Howard, Malik Hooker, and Jonathan Allen were available at pick No. 12. They didn’t jump the gun and forfeit resources.
Instead they stuck to their offseason mantra of patience and not making rash decisions, and they picked a player they long desired in Derek Barnett.
But it was not without a little intrigue in their minds as the Draft unfolded.
“We spent a lot of time, all of us going through scenarios, and we did not have scenarios that looked like what happened here,” Roseman said, addressing the media following the selection of Barnett on Thursday. “It was really interesting, for us, how it went. I think a lot of people were jumping off, getting quarterbacks. And when they got them, they kind of impacted the way the second half of this first round of the Draft would play out. It was interesting, for us, and probably a little different than we thought it would go off.”
That could be the understatement of a lifetime. Roseman had previously told reporters he felt confident in the way the Draft would pan out; that he and the Eagles’ decision makers had thought through a variety of possibilities, and no matter what, he felt they would be high-fiving come pick No. 14.
I’m sure there was high-fiving in the Draft room on Thursday night, but no one — not experts like Adam Schefter, not draft niks like our Ben Natan — expected the first round to pan out like it did.
“We did expect that, at 14, we would be able to pick some good players,” Roseman said. “Now, the names of those guys may have been a little different than we anticipated when we went through it, but we had it taken care of, with the players we thought would be there.
“For us, some of things that factor into the equation, certainly we talk about character, medical... those are some of the things that come into the equation as we go along through it.”
Let’s take a moment and think about what we can ascertain from Roseman’s restraint on Thursday:
He didn’t force a move up to make sure he could Carson Wentz an extra offensive weapon, nor did he force an offense-first selection at No. 14 like Dalvin Cook. What does this mean?
For one, it probably means we can expect offense early on Day 2. With a dearth of quality running backs on the Eagles’ roster, and plenty of talent (hello, D’Onta Foreman and Alvin Kamara!) ready to be selected on Friday, there are options aplenty.
It also means Roseman isn’t concerned about his offense for 2017, which is exactly what his offseason (read: free agency) moves were all about. By nabbing role players on the defensive side, and absolute studs on the offensive side, Roseman ensured he wouldn’t make a costly error in pursuit of one player or position. He held his ground, got a player he wanted, and didn’t give up resources.
Good stuff, all around, from Roseman & Co. in an unexpectedly volatile situation. They handled it well. On to Round 2.