Q. Has your philosophy changed at all regarding the linebacker position? (Ed Kracz)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We want to have 22 good starters. So, it’s not like we’re sitting there going, ‘Let’s have really bad players at a certain position.’
I think when you look at our defense and the role of the linebackers, Coach Schwartz [former Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz], who obviously was a phenomenal defensive coach for us, there were three off-the-ball linebackers.
The definition of what our linebackers are doing have changed with Coach Gannon [Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon]. And, again, we have to find players that fit our coaches’ scheme. That’s the most important thing, that we’re finding players that fit what we’re trying to do offensively, defensively and on special teams.
Obviously [LB] T.J. [Edwards] had a heck of a year, a really good year. We have a bunch of other young players at the position, and we’ll just see what happens in free agency and the draft.
We’re grading linebackers just like we’re grading every other position.
Q. The last time we talked to you at the end of the season, you and Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni were very confident saying QB Jalen Hurts is going to be your guy. After a month of more evaluation and research, do you still feel that way? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. I think when you talk about all the things we talked about at the end of the season, nothing has changed. I think what really has changed for us is the opportunity to add.
This is a great time of year for the Philadelphia Eagles, for us, for our staff and being here and really getting everyone involved in the draft process. The start of free agency is up and coming.
We have to continue to add good players. We have to continue to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to maximize our players’ ability to be successful and, certainly, that starts at the quarterback position with Jalen.
Q. With Jalen Hurts, it was reported that he had that ankle surgery after the season. Can you provide an update and expected timeline on when he might be back on the field? (Josh Tolentino)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think from an injury perspective, I’d rather not get into the injuries because that probably opens the door on all of them, but really optimistic about his readiness for the off-season program.
Q. How much do you balance how successful Eagles Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland has been in developing talent versus spending maybe a premium pick on an offensive lineman when you know you have the coaching you have? (Mike Kaye)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, Coach Stoutland [Eagles Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland], we go back a long time, him and I. We’re very fortunate to have him as our offensive line coach and working with him to make sure we get the right players.
Not taking away [from anyone else], he’s the best offensive line coach in the NFL. Not trying to insult anyone, but that’s how we feel. And we have to give him talented guys.
At the end of the day, these coaches could be as great as they possibly can be, but without talent, it doesn’t help.
When we talk about players, we still need players with traits. It’s hard to be an offensive lineman. It’s not a natural thing to be moving backwards while guys are coming at you forwards and, especially, the elite athletes that are on defense.
So those guys are hard to find. You don’t find them in any round. Obviously, there are going to be guys on the third day that we think have some unusual traits that we’d be interested in. But really, when you think about the guys who are really successful, you’re talking about guys who have something unusual about them. So, we’ll continue to keep looking for those guys because it’s important to us.
Q. Losing former Eagles Director of Player Personnel Ian Cunningham and former Eagles Director of Player Personnel Brandon Brown, what’s the plan to replace them? And how does the timing affect the draft process? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I miss those guys. I miss those guys already. Those guys are people that not only did we rely on professionally, but personally. They’re just people I really enjoyed being around and are friends.
It’s hard for me because you see these guys and they have an opportunity to kind of help themselves and their families. But at the same time, it doesn’t really help the Eagles. Especially the timing of this, which I think it’s something maybe that we have to talk about going forward, about losing guys during this draft process, especially in your conference, one in your division. That’s not ideal.
In terms of how we’re going to address it, I think that we’re in the middle of this process right now. To stop this process and really get the right people and get the right structure in place, we probably have to take a step back, which we’re not going to do right now. We’re just not in that mode.
We have a lot of good people in our building. We have a lot of people ready to step up. We’ve been in situations where back in 2016, we had a decimated personnel department, and we were able to have a good off-season.
So, there are no excuses for that. We’re very confident and, obviously, we had all the reports, so we know what they think. They may know a little bit about what I think, too, which isn’t great.
Q. How valuable is it that you know what Nick Sirianni wants in his schemes and yet you have three first-round picks and salary cap flexibility for this off-season? (Chris McPherson)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think when you look at the first year with a coaching staff and their willingness, especially this coaching staff, to take some of the guys that we have and say, ‘Let me see how this guy looks in my system,’ and now instead of having hypothetical situations you have tape on that, you have film on that and we can walk through, ‘All right, this is what we thought about this guy, this is how he fits,’ that’s huge in terms of evaluating our own team, which is the first thing we have to do. We have to evaluate our own team.
Then you talk about those picks, but it’s not just those picks. It’s utilizing the cap space on guys that fit our scheme, it’s utilizing the other draft picks on guys who fit our scheme. It’s if we make a trade, finding guys that fit what we are trying to do offensively and defensively and going from there.
Q. To follow up on that, your defensive coordinator is interviewing for head coaching jobs. How do you safeguard against overfitting for the scheme as opposed to just getting good players? (Bo Wulf)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: He’s a phenomenal coach, a phenomenal person, and really excited that we’re going to have him back because we’re probably renting him. He’s that good of a coach and that good of a person.
But I think when we look at it, the way that we’re playing defense and the way that he wants to play defense and our coaches want to, it’s something that’s sustainable. It’s not like we’re drafting guys for specific roles that won’t adjust if in the future we had to do something different.
I think that’s important, because we don’t want to get in a situation where if we lose one person, now all of a sudden, we have to start over from scratch. We can’t do that. You can’t do that in this league.
So, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.
Q. How do you differentiate between what you guys might be able to do in free agency because you have the money that you haven’t had in past years with what you can get out of the draft? (Martin Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I think the order of operations matters here, right? So, you’re talking about you’ll have free agency, you’ll have the opportunity to see where you are, but you also don’t want to get into a situation where you don’t take the best player, that you don’t take a guy who’s really good just because you addressed something in free agency.
I think what free agency does is it allows us to check boxes so we don’t feel the pressure to maybe feel like we have to do something, assuming that it works out in free agency, and that’s kind of how we’ll look at it.
Q. The recent history of teams that have three or maybe more first-round picks, it’s kind of a mixed bag, maybe not what those teams had hoped for in retrospect. Have you done a lot of research on that or is there something to be gleaned from it? (Geoff Mosher)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think the draft, as a whole, is like that. It goes in the first round, and obviously you can break it down 1 through 10, 11 through 20, 21 through 32, and it’s not like it’s 100 percent. It’s not like you’re picking in the top 5, it’s 100 percent.
So, you’re going to have those numbers. I think what it allows you to do is allows you to have more shots at really good players, really talented players. Gives you more flexibility to move up and down the draft board. It gives you more ammunition to decide if at some point you wanted to trade a pick for a player, and that’s what we’re looking for.
When you think about the National Football League, it’s all about resource allocation. So, it’s basically every team has the same salary cap number, basically every team has a number of draft picks. If you can get an edge, either by creating cap room or by getting more draft picks, now you have more shots to take.
So, I think that’s what we’re really excited about, is that we have more shots than we have had in the past couple years.
Q. Do you feel like you have to make three first-round picks is what I am getting at though? (Geoff Mosher)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: No
Q. How do you evaluate the quarterback draft class as a whole? (Ed Kracz)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We’re in the middle of that evaluation. I think it’s really important to see guys throw live as you’re evaluating quarterbacks. We’ll get that chance. If they let us down in the lower bowl to watch guys, I think there’ll be a bunch of fans, so maybe Coach [Sirianni] and I will mix in with the fans a little bit.
But I always feel like the public perception, it always goes one way or another. This is a great quarterback draft, this is a terrible quarterback draft, and it’s usually somewhere in the middle. But to say that we have our final judgments on any position group at this time, we’re just starting [to get] all the information together so we can make good decisions.
Q. Are you in the middle of negotiating a contract for RB Miles Sanders, and if not, what’s the status of that? If not, do you feel like you have to readjust your draft strategy to find another running back to replace him in the future? (Chris Franklin)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We’ll never discuss contract negotiations with any player. It’s private business – the player’s business, really – and we want to keep that as private as we can.
Miles is a heck of a player, heck of a person. I think you saw a lot, too, we had guys who were in their fourth year last year, whether you go back and you look at Sweaty [Eagles DE Josh Sweat] and you look at [Eagles TE] Dallas [Goedert] and you look at [Eagles CB] Avonte [Maddox] and you look at [Eagles T] Jordan [Mailata], guys like that. Maybe I’m missing a couple guys, who even became better in their fourth year in the league.
We haven’t even seen everything Miles can give this team. Obviously, he’s been really productive. I know he wants to get in the end zone, as well. But I think the best is yet to come from Miles.
Q. You wouldn’t be doing your due diligence if you didn’t look at every position around the league, especially at quarterback. How do you view the quarterback market and where do you stand in regards to Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the possibility that he could be traded for? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I think it goes to the question that we started this press conference on. We have Jalen Hurts, who’s a 23-year-old quarterback, who led his team to the playoffs, and he’s going to get better and better and better. He’s going to do everything possible to get better, and we have to do our part in that.
In terms of players on different teams, no matter what position, don’t feel comfortable, can’t talk about players on other teams.
What’s going on in the league, I think that’s part of what we missed here the last couple of years. I think you kind of come here and you kind of start hearing some things about what’s going on at each position, and you just try to gather information. I’m not talking about the quarterback position, I’m talking about in general. You try to gather information about what’s going on and what opportunities there are to improve our football team.
Q. With the receivers, behind WR DeVonta Smith, do you see any of those guys taking a step forward? (Reporter)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, when you look at [Eagles WR] Quez [Watkins], I think Quez had a heck of a year, really, when you look at him and really transitioning to a position he didn’t play in college as a slot receiver. The guy is extremely talented, extremely hardworking.
We talked about it at the end of the season; we need [WR] Jalen [Reagor] to take another step. We need Jalen to do some of the things we drafted him to do. He knows that. There’s no secret about that. We’ve told him the same things.
I guess after that, it’s opportunity. Now, when we go through this draft, obviously it’s a really good draft class. We have 10 picks. We have nine through the first five rounds. So, you’ll have opportunities in the draft where you’ll go, ‘Hey, that guy is a good fit for what we’re doing offensively. That guy is a good receiver, and we’ll see how free agency goes, as well.’
Q. Does having three first-round picks change anything about your process in the lead-up to the draft? (Dave Zangaro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, we have to constantly evolve our process. I think if we’re sitting here saying everything is perfect and everything works, that would be disingenuous. We have to constantly evolve, and we really try to do that a lot in May, June, and July. Figure out what we’ve done right, what we’ve done wrong; what the rest of the league has done right, what the rest of the league has done wrong.
So, I don’t think that changes with the number of first-round picks we have. I think it just heightens the opportunity that we have.
Q. What is your take on the edge rushers in this draft class, and how important is it going to be to restore the pass rush going into next year? (E.J. Smith)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, the first part about that, the draft class, it was a good start. But I think when you look at this league, the most important thing is consistency over time, not being flash-in-the-pans, doing things and getting better.
We talk about the jump from year one to year two and how important it is to improve. I think about the things these guys are going through right now – a guy like [WR] DeVonta [Smith] or [OL] Landon [Dickerson] … Maybe Landon is not a good example, because he was rehabbing …
But DeVonta, who is going through all the pro days and having all the Zoom interviews, and he’s not really focused on the things he can do to get better. He’s focused on where he’s going to go; how he’s going to live; who’s going to come with him; where he’s going to function. Now he doesn’t have to do that. Now it’s all ball for him. So, we expect a big jump.
But it also talks to the character and the football intangibles those guys had, and I think our scouts did a great job of doing that and bringing those to the front.
Q. T Andre Dillard could probably start on other teams in the league, but he doesn’t have a starting spot on your roster now. What kind of interest did you get in him last year at the trade deadline and so far this offseason? (Jimmy Kempski)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: It’s hard to find offensive linemen who can move and who can bend. The amazing thing is Andre is working out every day right now. I’m not allowed to really talk to him about anything, but you can see, he looks great. Upper body, lower body, he’s really determined. He wants to play.
Just to think that he can only play left tackle limits him and probably does him a disservice, but having a really good offensive line is important. Having depth on the offensive line is important.
We started 15 guys this year. Now, I’m cheating on that number a little because we started five guys in the last game of the year, but I like when I say 15 guys. But at a minimum, we started 10 in games that we really needed them, and that just shows you can never have enough offensive linemen.
Q. The pass rush was second-to-last in sacks last year. What must be done to fix it, and is this edge rusher class the strength of the draft? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I have to learn from some of my mistakes I’ve made in the past, so in terms of talking about strengths of a draft class, I don’t know that I want to go there. There are good players at every position in this draft.
In terms of the sack number, it’s also how you want to play, right? And for us, we want to get pressure on the quarterback. It’s not only the sack numbers, you know that. There are other ways to judge that.
But the bottom line is we didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback. We have to have pressure on the quarterback. We have to continue to have pressure on the quarterback. It’s a priority to us. We’ll have opportunities this offseason to do it, and I would be very surprised if we didn’t do something there.