The Eagles wrapped up 2019 NFL Draft weekend with five rookies and trading their acquired seventh-round pick for a defensive tackle from the Colts. Howie Roseman and co. were busy and made the most out of their limited picks, and most were widely celebrated, and one may have caught some off guard.
Howie, Doug Pederson and Joe Douglas spoke to the media one last time before calling it a night. Howie opened with some remarks about the exciting weekend for the organization.
“Really great weekend for the Philadelphia Eagles, for our organization, just the way everyone works together, everyone in the organization coming together coaches, scouts, front office staff, administrative staff. It’s fun to watch and when we get everyone in the draft room and [Eagles Chairman and CEO] Jeffrey [Lurie] speaks to all of us, it’s fun to look because we talk about picking the players, but we pick all the people that we work with, and it really becomes a family atmosphere here. It’s a good place to work.”
Here’s what else the trio had to say about Day 3 of the draft and their draft class and strategy as a whole.
On drafting more offense than defensive players
It was interesting to see Howie to go offensive-heavy during the draft, with 4-of-5 picks being on that side of the ball. Roseman said he regretted calling the DL draft class “historic” earlier in the offseason but their overall plan was to stick to their board regardless of how it fell.
“No, it definitely wasn’t a concerted thought process. We went into this draft trying to stick to our board and we did the same thing even after the draft. We went through our front board and tried to get as many guys as we could after the draft and recruit them.”
Ultimately though, Roseman wasn’t wrong and so many defensive players going early on in Round 1, pushed a lot of their highly rated guys to them without having to reach much. Including for a guy like Shareef Miller, who Howie said in a normal draft would have probably gone Day 2.
“And then also when you look at today, a guy like Shareef [Miller], we think in a normal draft, that guy goes yesterday. Because so many teams took defensive linemen, we had an opportunity to get a young pass rusher we think we can work with and develop and has some tools in his body.”
He later talked about how there were a lot of different scenarios they ran through the past few weeks and and whether offense or defense they were always getting some kind of lineman with their first three picks. Howie stressed that both sides of the ball are important to the organization and they took their best players available.
“But I don’t think that we thought that Miles Sanders would be there at pick 53, right or wrong. The receivers kind of fell in a different order than we thought, and then again, coming to today and being at the end of the fourth round and sitting there and all of us, it was hard to sit there. It’s hard to sit there at the beginning of days and wait for all those picks, and to be able to get a pass rusher that we think has tools in his body to develop, we’re excited about that.”
Howie said that they aren’t focused entirely on adding offensive weapons for Carson Wentz, although it does go into account, and having a lot of their key guys extended through the next few seasons, and now rookies who they think will contribute early, is good.
“I think that we look at the first pick as something that’s really hard to find. It’s an offensive line-deficient league. It’s hard to find those guys. We just thought it was a great opportunity. When we look at the other two spots, we’ve been looking for a runner like [RB] Miles [Sanders] for a couple years, and for him to be there, we’re really excited about his potential. Obviously, he’s a rookie player and he has to come in and work hard and earn his way. And then I think with J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside], he was another just staff favorite, just really fits in. We’re not trying to run anyone off the team. We’re trying to keep as many of our good players as we can for as long as we can.”
On not taking a DB or LB
Howie said that they would have liked to add guys at those positions, and there were some discussions at points throughout the draft between a couple of guys, but at the end of the day they are happy with their decisions.
“We need some of our young guys to take a step up at both those spots. They have been here. We are hopeful that that’s the case, and again, talent-acquisition season has not ended. We have a long way to go before we play a game, and then we have a long way to go before the trade deadline. We’re not going on vacation now; we’re going to continue to try to do whatever we can to support Coach [Pederson] and his staff, and we take that part of it seriously.”
Roseman later said that they did address those areas a little bit during free agency as well, bringing in safety Andrew Sendejo re-signing Rodney McLeod, as well as adding linebacker L.J. Fort.
On Clayton Thorson
Doug Pederson noted that his first opportunity to see the Northwestern quarterback was at the Combine and they had a chance to chat. with the head coach noting Thorson’s bowl record and passing records in college were impressive.
“This kid’s tough and he fits exactly what we look for in a quarterback. Arm strength, decision-making, the ability to extend plays and he’s going to fit really well with that room and with Carson [Wentz] and Nate [Sudfeld].”
Howie echoed that the Joe Douglas and the scouts did a great job of putting the QB on their radar early and he was someone they thought had dropped a bit more than they anticipated.
On trading for Hassan Ridgeway
Roseman explained why they traded away their acquired seventh round pick, and noted that they had been trying to make the move for awhile, but it finally worked out where the Colts had a guy still on the board they wanted to get.
“We’ve been talking, obviously we all have a great relationship with the Colts organization, and their head coach and their general manager and their scouting staff. He’s a guy that we’ve been talking about for a long time with them. It just came at the end of the seventh round, and we had been talking about trying to find a fit, and they had kind of a player they wanted, and we’re continuing to look for guys who can help us up front, and we think this guy fits our scheme. We think he’s got a chance to develop into a good player for us. He’s young. He’s 24 years old. We have guys on our staff that were in Indy and drafted him. We have guys that were with him in Indianapolis. We feel we know the player.”