After a long, seven-hour draft session culminated in four selections, two offensive and two defensive, the Eagles’ leadership triumvirate — Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, and Doug Pederson — finally emerged from their perch to discuss the picks they made on the third and final day of the 2017 NFL Draft. They discussed plenty.
Here are there takes on nearly everything, from the individual picks, to draft philosophy, to the futures of Ryan Mathews, Jason Kelce, and Mychal Kendricks.
Howie, on the team’s feeling about the way things went
We won’t know a lot about the things we did this weekend for a while, but as we sit here, we feel good about it. We feel like we did the right things for our team, not necessarily only for this moment, but going forward. We got a lot of good people into this building who reflect the values and culture, and playing temperament, we’re trying to bring in.
Howie, on the number of WRs/CBs the team took indicating anything
First, we’re trying to build competition. That’s going to make everyone better. We’re not looking at numbers, we’re not worried about what’s going to happen in August. A lot’s going to happen between now and August. The best situation we could have is have a lot of good players at a particular position. We’ve talked about that with the offensive line, for example.
In terms of the guys we drafted today, when we talk about Mack [Hollins], a guy who has been with Joe and his staff, and the process, really since the day they walked into the building and we sat down, and we talked about, when they came back from spring meetings, the guy, who he is, but also the player he is. He’s 6-4, he can run, physical receiver, can go up and get the football, and then he brings a lot to the table other than that, as well.
Shelton Gibson is a guy who, right when he came out and we did work on him, he can take the top off. You see he gets separation, he gets vertical, and for us he was the best player on the board. We sat there, and it was a great example of what Joe and his staff have brought. It didn’t matter we’d drafted a receiver. He was the best player on the board, and we took him.
Howie, on the way running backs panned out in the draft
It was a little bit like defensive tackle, which was interesting, because when we went through it last year, and all the defensive tackles you felt like maybe they go later, but there was a run on those guys. Same token, we were really excited to make sure we got [Donnel] Pumphrey, and then we like the players that are in the building. We’ve got Ryan, we’ve got Darren, we’ve got Wendell, and Bryon Marshall, who can cross train to play receiver and running back. We’ve got talent at that position, and we’re excited to see them.
Howie, on Ryan Mathews’ status
Ryan Mathews is on this team. I mean, can I tell you anyone who’s going to be on the team? We’re here in April. All that stuff will work itself out. His rehab’s going well. There are some things, some parts of the process he has to get through, but he’s working hard, he’s able to work out.
Doug, on the Eagles’ WR draft selections
Really the most important thing for me is, I want guys who love football, number one. Guys who really want to come in here and compete and earn a spot, earn a roster spot, earn that jersey on Sundays. When these two guys were sitting right there for us, we all kind of got excited. I’m just looking forward to working with them, getting them here in the building, getting them here in a couple days, couple weeks, get them in that first rookie camp and expose them to our offense.
Doug, on the team’s new tall receivers and red zone offense
I think it’s big. You can throw in Zach Ertz, you throw in [Dorial Green-Beckham], there’s some height there. There’s some ability to get open. Red zone, that’s one thing that we focused on as a staff this spring was our red zone efficiency, and how we can get open and improve that. Obviously this will help, having height down there. But at the same time, we’ve got to, offensively, just focus on execution and just build on that. But this will definitely give us a little bit of an advantage.
Doug, on Wendell Smallwood’s role in 2017
I think Wendell, coming off an injury, that’s number one. We’ve got to make sure he’s 100 percent, physically ready to go there. I think Wendell has a role on this football team. It’s something we saw glimpses of last season, when he had a chance to play, and we just expect him to come in and compete, work, and put himself in a position to help us again this year.
Doug, on help for Carson Wentz compared to before free agency
I think it’s great. When I stood up here last year and said “competition at every position,” I, again... the gentlemen up here with me helped us create that. I’m excited to see these guys work. I’m excited to see who’s going to rise to the top, and who’s going to be there at the end. It’s just going to make us better down the stretch.
Doug, on Hollins and Gibson and a learning curve
They’re going to be a little work in progress. Young guys coming in, offensively, defensively, and special teams, it’s just picking up terminology and things we teach from a fundamental standpoint. Most receivers coming out of college don’t have an extensive route tree like we have, so there’s a learning curve there. But both these guys are sharp guys. You see it on tape, and when you get a chance to visit with them, they understand offense, they understand coverage, and when we get them in here May 11, start our rookie camp, we’ll get a chance to expose them to our offense.
Joe, on Nate Gerry’s ability to switch from S to LB
The reason I would say he can convert from safety to linebacker is, I think, the mental toughness and the physicality he plays with. But to me he wasn’t just a safety that can play down in the box. He was an athletic guy who can range all over the field, and I think you’re gonna see that range, even more so, at the linebacker position.
Joe, on how they balanced BPA versus need
I think, if you look at our draft, there were times a perceived need was trumped by the best player available. I won’t get into specifics, but once the draft starts, we go over so many different outcomes and scenarios that can happen, that you just go with the way the board is flowing. That was the main thing, that we had a strong game plan before the draft started, and we were able to stick to it.
Howie, on his first time collaborating with this team on a draft
I think it’s the whole group. Obviously, Joe and I have an opportunity to sit next to each other and talk about a lot of things, but Coach is right next to us, and Jeffrey, and Andy Weidl, and Tom Donahoe, and that whole draft room with Anthony Patch, and Dwayne Joseph, and Alex Halaby, and Jake Rosenberg, it’s a collaborative effort. We talk about things, we get feedback on things. When we’re talking to teams about trades, we’re putting them up, we’re trying to weigh those trades.
The board’s the easy part. It really is. Because it just, we have a stack, it comes off that way, and the only discussion is, if two guys are in the same tier, maybe you take the priority position. But it was a fun process, not just throughout the last three days, but really since both these guys have been in the building.
Howie, on how big Hollins’ special teams ability was in picking him
For us, it was the receiving ability first. You’re talking about a guy who’s got tremendous size, tremendous speed. We feel like if he didn’t have the collarbone this year, he goes two rounds before that. Tremendous upside as a receiver, and he’s got the intelligence and work ethic to work on whatever his deficiencies are. In the mean time, he’s got a role to fill. You can get him on the field on the 46-man roster. But we’re not looking to draft special teams [only] players in the fourth round. We’re looking at a guy like that who’s got the ability to be an eventual starter.
Howie, on the difference between free agency and the draft
For us, the draft is a totally different process. It’s about taking the best players available, and there’s no doubt there’s times when you’re in a round, and you’re bummed because there’s a position and a player of need, and he goes before your pick, or he’s further down the stack. But that’s why we have each other, to keep each other kind of in line, and make sure we’re doing the things we talked about.
Joe, on what he likes about the undersized Pumphrey
With Pumphrey, the thing that stands out the most? Prolific production. He’s set every record. We’re talking about a guy that broke Marshall Faulk’s record. Lightning feet. Great feet, great hands. And don’t let the size fool you: this guy, he’s a little dog that thinks he’s a big dog, and he plays that way. I love the way he plays, and I love how productive he is.
Howie, on Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks
Yes, they are here. They are here, and we fully anticipate that they will be here going forward.
Teams inquiring about them?
We don’t ever talk about trade discussions with teams, but both those guys have been here in the offseason, and they’re going to be here going forward.
Howie, on what he thought of the Philly draft experience
Well, I thought it was going to be coming back, until I saw some of Jim Cramer’s speech today. It was going in a great direction until today, and then it went a little downhill.
No, but I actually got a chance to sneak out yesterday, in the early afternoon, to check it out because I felt like it was just such a unique opportunity. And the people in this city, the people in the league, the job they did. It was an unbelievable event. Even when I was down there, earlier in the afternoon, the amount of people that were just around? The light it put on Philly? How well the city responded? It just makes you proud to be part of this city.