Rich Hofmann: Roseman fit right in to Eagles' draft game plan

Eagles' braintrust of Howie Roseman (front) and Andy Reid.
Eagles' braintrust of Howie Roseman (front) and Andy Reid.
Posted: April 26, 2010

PEOPLE ASK all the time how the Eagles' draft room works. Never having seen it operate, it's really hard to know. There are two main personalities, though: Andy Reid and his general manager - Tom Heckert for years, now Howie Roseman in his first season. That much is sure.

People ask about the dynamic between the two. Since Reid makes the final call on picks, they wonder if the general manager isn't really just an errand boy. In reply, this is the analogy that seems most apt: Reid drives the car but Roseman is the GPS. (And, yes, that was his voice that could be heard throughout the NovaCare Complex over the weekend, with trade after trade after trade, intoning the words, "Recalculating route . . . recalculating route . . . recalculating route . . . ")

So who is more powerful - the driver or the guy controlling the road map?

The truth is that the general manager in this setup has always had a lot more influence than people think. It might even be more true now, in Roseman's first season as general manager, although club president Joe Banner says it is too early to say.

"During the draft, very little was changed from the past," Banner said. "We've had a system for a long time as to who handles trades, who handles the phones, that has been the same for a long time. When we get right to the pick, there is a conversation involving a number of people. Primarily, it used to be Andy and Tom. Now it's Andy and Howie. But it really is just what's on the board."

We all know what the Eagles did over the weekend: traded up to the 13th pick to draft Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, took South Florida safety Nate Allen with the 37th pick, and then traded down relentlessly to accumulate extra picks in the middle of the draft. It is the second year in a row they have followed this midround accumulation strategy. It would not appear to be a coincidence - although Banner would argue that it is - that Roseman was known to be the GM-in-waiting last year and is the GM-in-reality this year.

Taking a quick break near the end of the fifth round on Saturday, Banner painted a picture of how it all worked, starting with a week before the draft that included long sessions where Reid, Roseman and the rest gamed out countless hypothetical scenarios of how the draft might play out.

"We went in with a plan, depending on the cost, of trying to get up in the first round," he said. "If it became too expensive, we knew there would be guys at our pick that we really liked. Then we would probably pick at 37 and then, probably, use the next pick to move back and accumulate picks unless somebody fell there that we loved.

"Howie fits the mind-set really well of not getting locked into a plan. Also that probably, in most cases, that quantity is better than quality, as long as they don't get too far apart. He believes that. We all believe that. The nature of this draft made it even more active than usual, but it wasn't like some shift in philosophy. He's always believed in that and always been part of those discussions, which is one of the reasons he fits so well in his new position. He fits well with Andy, he fits with the mind-set, he fits with the attitude, so he perpetuates it. I don't know if it changed."

Roseman put his stamp on this draft, Banner said, "in the form of who we actually picked." But it was more than that. It seems from here that Roseman's key act was in preparing the analysis that there were more players in the third- to fifth-round area who might be able to play than in a typical year. That analysis drove everything else that happened. Depending upon the players, as always, we will find out if they outsmarted themselves with all of the maneuvering.

"Coaches will generally tell you that their greatest value is what they do from Monday to Saturday, whereas all of us focus on the timeout they didn't call on Sunday," Banner said, beginning an analogy. "That's what Howie made a big difference in, the Monday-through-Saturday of the draft - the utilization of the scouts, and the digging deeper for personal information, and the getting the board stacked right, and getting Andy focused the right way. That's the key to the draft.

"Our decision to accumulate all of these fourth-round picks was a reflection of that board, and he drove how it got put together. That analysis led to the decisions we made. Those Monday-to-Saturday decisions led to what happened. We really just executed right off the board.

"We had the 55th pick. Was that one player - who you historically have about a 40 percent chance of even hitting on - worth more than the five other picks that we got? But the other decisions were easily as important. Was Brandon Graham the right guy to go up and get? Was it the right price? Was Nate Allen the right guy? They're as important or more important."

In the fifth round, the rookie general manager - who attended the University of Florida - selected Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper. Banner said that everyone in the Eagles' draft room heckled Roseman as the pick was made. Banner said, "His answer was, 'There's 10 Florida kids taken already. He's the 11th one. Can't I take one?' ''

With that, the new general manager - more powerful than most people assume - now has a record; heckling to follow.

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