The NFL Combine is finally here and for the Eagles, it’s one of their final chances to get up close and personal with some of the finest talents in this year’s draft class. Not only will the team be evaluating the players from an athletic standpoint..but from one of character, ensuring they fit perfectly with the new vision implemented by the Front Office.
Although Howie Roseman still has the final say on who the team pick when their name is on the clock, it’s the duo of Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl that will have a new found authority in the war-room, setting the draft board and bringing in a fresh influence when it comes to evaluating talent.
Douglas, the Eagles first-year Vice President of Player Personnel, spent fifteen years with the Baltimore Ravens. First as an area scout where his work influenced the decision to draft Joe Flacco and then as a National Scout in 2012. He held this position for three years before moving to Chicago to become the Bears’ head of College Scouting in 2015. It was here where Douglas learned under Bears G.M Ryan Pace.
Throughout his tenure in Baltimore, Douglas was responsible for the discovery and scouting of some of the team’s vital cogs during their two championship runs since the start of the 2000’s.
QB Joe Flacco
G Ben Grubbs
LB Pernell McPhee
LB C.J. Mosley
CB Lardarius Webb
G Marshal Yanda
LB Albert McClellan
WR Marlon Brown
LB Dannell Ellerbe,
LB Jameel McClain
K Justin Tucker
In the run up to the NFL Combine, Howie Roseman spoke about the imapct that Douglas is set to have over the coming months:
“We have a great staff and we are ready. Joe Douglas (vice president of personnel) did a great job last week with the meetings within our department getting ready for our work in Indianapolis. D.J. (Dwayne Joseph, director of pro scouting) has done a great job with the pro department getting us ready for free agency. Jake (Rosenberg, director of football administration) has done an unbelievable job preparing us for all scenarios, and Alec (Halaby, vice president of football operations and strategy) helps in all of those scenarios, too. I think we are full bore and we’re ready to improve this football team.”
The addition of Douglas might be as big as the finding the franchise QB last year. Known for his eye for talent, Douglas’ hand-print can already be seen with the addition of UDFA Destiny Vaeo and 2nd year Safety, Terrence Brooks. Both are players whom have had an impact on the defense and special teams units. Whether it was the forced fumbles of Brooks or the 2 sacks from Vaeao, both may have been regarded as minor additions at the time..but added true value as the year progressed. Most of Douglas’ career had been spent building a super-bowl championship roster in Baltimore, learning under Ozzie Newsome.
The impact from Vaeao and Brooks may prove to be a look into what the future holds..and it all starts at the Combine. While we don’t know how different the methods of evaluating players are, what we do know is that the next few days will be pivotal in that process. The focus on an emotional connection has been prominent for the Eagles ever since the departure of Chip Kelly. From coaches and players to the front office themselves, the team’s identity of both present and future is based on an emotional engagement that was void just over a season ago. Having extensive meetings with prospects and ensuring that they’re the right fit personality wise, as well as having the athletic intangibles is where it all begins for the Birds.
Roseman, Lurie and Pederson were all present at the Senior Bowl..and so too were the Eagles key scouting personnel. The Birds’ have drafted 26 players who competed at the Senior Bowl since 2010. The only team to have drafted more, is coincidentally the Baltimore Ravens, with 27. The Eagles appear to have adapted a very similar vision to one already set deep into the mind of Joe Douglas..and if the Eagles can combine that with their new “low-risk, high-reward” philosophy, and a direction of building from the ball out.. then the legacy will write itself. Roseman alluded to the change of heart after announcing the arrival of the new talent evaluators.
“The first thing he did was bring in Andy Weidl.” Roseman told the media. “He’s got tremendous presence. He’s got a way of looking at and evaluating players that’s different than what we’ve done in the past, and we needed that…he has full reins over the draft board.”
Weidl is rapidly becoming one of the most renowned scouts in the league. From evaluating Torrey Smith and Tyrod Taylor to pro-bowler Haloti Ngata, Weidl’s role in Philadelphia will be crucial in continuing the vision that Joe Douglas implements. With the new salary cap announced at $167M, it leaves the Eagles with around $11M..forcing their hand away from the temptations that Free agency present..and toward a packed Draft class. Something that works perfectly for Douglas. Roseman mentioned in his end of season presser just how valuable his way of looking at things will be.
“Bringing Joe Douglas here, with his insight and his leadership, his ability to lead the draft room and his ability to put the free agent board together, we think is going to be a huge addition to this staff.” He’s already added valuable input into what he’s looking for in players and what he’s looking to bring to this team.”
The Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz era technically started at the start of last season. But this is the first full offseason that both Douglas and Weidl will spend in Philadelphia, building the draft board for Howie Roseman to utilize on that fateful night. How the team surround their young quarterback with talent is what everybody is wondering..and how that pans out falls on the shoulders of two men who helped shape one of the most successful teams of the last 20 years.
Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports