We are just one week away (!) from the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and despite it being completely virtual and remote, the Eagles are confident in making good decisions based on the information they’ve collected. Executive vice president/general manager Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl spoke with the media on Thursday about how they’re preparing and what they expect from next week’s draft.
“We feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to put our heads down and focus on our jobs,” Howie explained. He also noted that they want to make sure that they do the right thing and hopefully provide a good distraction for fans.
The Eagles’ GM also said that they could go crazy trying to think of all the scenarios with whether there will be football this fall or even college football for next year’s draft. They’ve had a full draft process and they’ll have a draft next week and that’s all they know and can control.
On the virtual draft
“Microsoft teams has been a godsend for us,” Howie explained when discussing having to work as a group remotely.
They’ll have different rooms open for big and small groups, but they are trying to keep things as normal as possible. They will still have the same guy on the phone tell them all the picks made before them and the same guy calling in their picks, etc...
The NFL will be a doing a mock draft ahead of the actual event and Howie mentioned practicing making trades and just working through the communication.
Howie said that a couple years ago the IT department set up his home office so he has everything he’d have at the NovaCare Complex. They’ll miss their state-of-the-art draft room, and the energy of being together, but they’re trying to recreate that remotely — and they’ve done a good job of that with their meetings since working from home.
He also joked that they’re trying to figure out ways to keep their kids distracted during the draft.
Howie doesn’t think that being a virtual draft will affect trades among teams, noting that those things are done over the phone anyway, and it seems like conversations among GMs a week out from the draft are pretty normal.
“When I look back at my time as a GM in Philly, there are also different regimes.”
It’s always been a different environment and atmosphere for him. He tries to talk to everyone and make it very collaborative, but it all boils down to adding talent and building a team.
Roseman emphasized that it’s not about “winning the draft” or worrying about draft grades, but rather making sure they are adding the best players for the Philadelphia Eagles.
On draft evaluation in quarantine
“It’s a credit to our scouts, our coaches, everyone in the building who has taken the time to know these guys as well as they can.”
They’ve spoken with these guys as much as they can to know them as well as if they had met with them in person. The scouts start working in the fall, plus they’ve had interviews (both group and individual) from the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine — so they feel they’ve done a good job getting to know the prospects.
Andy said that they take all the information they have and make the best decision they can — everyone is in the same boat, but they just are going to trust their instincts and the data they have. He also explained that for prospects who are coming back from injuries, it’s a case-by-case situation. They look at history and make the best decision based on the data that they have.
Their new head trainer and sports performance team have done great work to study and evaluate players.
Additionally, Howie talked about how the draft isn’t the last stop to improve their team, and they see a lot of opportunity in the months ahead to add to their roster. They don’t want to be in a position where they are forcing something to fill a certain position, so they just want to add the best player available to a position of need.
On the wide receiver class
Howie didn’t want to get ahead of themselves and talk about the depth of the wide receiver class, but said that they are trying to stack the board based on the quality of the player.
He and Andy agreed that it’s an exciting class and there are a lot of different types of receivers and at every level. The scouts have done a great job getting to know these players. Andy noted later on that despite not being able to meet with guys face-to-face, they’re having more individual and in-depth one-on-ones with prospects.
Howie and Andy both touched on how evaluating receivers has changed over the years. Howie said that players have a lot more experience in different offenses between high school, 7-on-7s, and in college. But, noted that there are still some challenges because they aren’t always competing against an NFL-level talented secondary.
Andy explained that having wide receivers that can win at all three levels are important because it’s “become a 1-on-1 game” and a space game which has changed how quickly players transition to the NFL. He said there are a lot of fast receivers in this draft, but that there is a big difference in timed speed and play speed, and they evaluate that by watching the tape and seeing if they run by guys or create separation.