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Eagles show desire for tangible production in first three NFL Draft picks

Measurements lie, interceptions don’t?

NCAA Football: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Two days down, one to go. With the two most high-stakes days of the 2017 NFL Draft in the books, the Eagles have three new defensive players, each of whom had highly productive 2016 seasons.

First-round pick Derek Barnett broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee. Second-round pick Sidney Jones didn’t allow a touchdown in 2016. And third-round pick Rasul Douglas had eight interceptions last year.

Forget the injury concern with Jones’ Achilles injury, and the hand-wringing over Douglas’ sluggish 4.59 40-yard dash time, Howie Roseman said Friday night.

The trend with the Eagles’ draft picks this year?

“Production,” Roseman said, grinning. “I think it’s more usually guys who play well in high school and play well in college have a chance to play well in the pros. That’s my 11:30 at night answer, anyway.”

Selecting Douglas in the third round, after watching cornerbacks and running backs fly off the board in the 56 picks between the Eagles’ selections Friday night, had some fans sweating.

It could be seen as a bit of a makeup pick, Roseman and Joe Douglas scrambling to get a young corner on the roster who can be ready to contribute in Week 1, unlike the recovering Jones.

Did the Eagles force their hand on a cornerback who stands 6-foot-2 but has a bit of a speed problem?

Roseman, at least, isn’t concerned about Douglas’s disappointing 40-yard dash.

“I think the first thing, if you look at the numbers, his 10 time is actually really good,” Roseman said. “And for us, you see he’s got tremendous instincts and ball skills, and he’s long, so he’s able to make up ground.”

Douglas, a New Jersey native, only played two seasons at West Virginia after transferring from community college in New York state.

But Joe Douglas liked what he saw from the 21-year-old, and it was all reinforced by a particularly strong week in Mobile, Alabama, this past winter.

“For a guy that’s a JUCO guy and didn’t have a ton of time playing at West Virginia, his instincts, his natural instincts to find the ball, play the ball, and finish,” Joe Douglas said. “And the thing that really stood out in his week at the Senior Bowl was, this guy is tough. Very competitive. You saw it the entire week, every rep was like the last rep he was playing. I love him. This guy competes.”

The Eagles now have two young corners — Jones is 20, Douglas is 21 — who, if Jones heals well and reaches his former skill level, could herald a new era of back end defense for the Birds.

Roseman said he likes having young players with big production in the building — “usually the guys who are elite are recognized as elite early, so they play early” — as well as two players with complimentary skill sets.

“When you think about their skill sets, and we talked about it a lot with Alshon [Jeffery] and Torrey [Smith], with Sidney and Rasul they have complimentary skill sets, too,” Roseman said. “When you talk about the receivers in our division and conference, you need guys to cover the quicker-twitch receivers, and the guys who can take the big, strong receivers we face.”

Both of the Eagles’ picks on Friday, while addressing glaring needs, prompted a few raised eyebrows. Can Jones return from a fairly devastating injury and be the player he was in Washington? Will Douglas be bogged down by a lack of speed against elite receiver play in the NFC East?

There’s plenty of productive tape to convince Eagles fans the future of the team at corner is secure, and that’s certainly what Howie Roseman would like the message to be.

The question now is whether that productivity will be able to make the leap to the pros.


Also, a couple leftovers:

Howie, on Joe Mixon

We have very specific guidelines for guys we’re going to select or not, and we made those decisions a long time ago. I know there have been a lot of reports. I don’t know where a lot of them have come from. We make the decisions based on the people we want to bring into the building and the criteria we put forth.

So, was he on your board?

I don’t want to get into anyone specific, but...

Doug, on running backs left in the draft

Going into the draft, from top to bottom, we were going into it looking at three-down backs, number one, guys who can play on all three downs. Guys who are competitive, who want to come in and compete for the spot. We still have some good backs on our roster in Wendell and Darren, and Ryan, and so we’re looking to find that three-down guy, but at the same time, add talent at that position. Looking at the guys that are left, there’s one or two guys there that have the opportunity to fill that role.

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