By Al Thompson
Unlike many businesses, schools and entertainment venues, the NFL has been able to run its business as close to normal as any company has been operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Late last week, Eagles Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and Assistant General Manager Andy Weidl held their annual pre-draft news conference.
It was held as a video conference, with Roseman and Weidl at their homes and the media corps from whatever location each reporter was working.
During the session, Roseman was asked if he was making plans should the season’s schedule be postponed or canceled, and if 2021 draft picks would be devalued if there was no college football this fall.
“You could drive yourself crazy with trying to get involved with all the scenarios,” Roseman said. “What if it’s the opposite? You can go through the what ifs. We can control one thing, and that’s that we have had a full draft process here from May and we will have a draft next week. Everything else is out of our control. We will control what we can control and that’s this draft, and obviously we’ll always keep one eye on the future as well and future drafts, but I think if you start going through these what-if scenarios, you’ll drive yourself crazy.”
Roseman and the Eagles brass are no doubt aware that, in several recent interviews, Gov. Tom Wolf would not make a commitment that the Eagles and Steelers will be allowed to host their home games in 2020.
“We’ll deal with the information we have at hand,” Roseman said. “Which is that this is a great opportunity next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, to improve our football team for this season and seasons beyond.”
It is generally believed among fans and observers that the Birds will be selecting a receiver with the No. 21 overall pick. The Eagles are rumored to be looking to trade up to snag a franchise-changing receiver.
Topping every mock draft are CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) and Justin Jefferson (LSU).
Roseman warns that evaluating receivers solely based on combine times and even college game film can be deceiving.
“Well, you know, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Is that how the saying goes?” Roseman said. “We’ve been in this situation a couple times with strong classes, and I think it’s come back to bite me to talk about it.
“I would just say what we are doing is we are trying to stack the board based on the quality of the player. Obviously, there’s some positions that have more depth than others. I know a lot of other people have had the opportunity to talk about that specific position in that class, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and say just because there’s a perceived position of strength that that’s where we’re going to choose from.”
Weidl was non-committal when asked to evaluate this year’s class of receivers.
“Time will tell with this draft class, as with each class. But it’s an exciting class,” Weidl said. “There’s different flavors, obviously, different types of receivers and there’s plenty of them in this draft, and at every level, we feel. We’re excited. Our scouts have done a great job getting to know these players, stacking the board. We had an excellent round of meetings last week with our coaches, and everybody had a chance to voice their opinion. We’re excited about the strength, the depth and the level of players that are in this draft at the receiver position.”
It is not uncommon for a team that has a young, but experienced franchise quarterback under center to add his thoughts on offensive players in the draft. It is not uncommon for quarterbacks to train with receivers in the offseason who are looking to get drafted.
That usually happens if a player winds up with the same agent or agency as the candidate. Roseman was asked if Carson Wentz was involved with evaluating this year’s draft prospects. He talked about how this year’s draft was different with regard to consulting with Wentz on a few levels.
“Yeah, you know, Carson, I know, has got his hands full,” Roseman said. “He’s expecting a baby any day now. For us, we want to communicate with all our players. Obviously, Carson is a huge part of it, and being able to sit down with him after the season and talk about our vision and just kind of keep in touch and make sure that he’s OK and his family’s OK is the priority.
“In the past, he has had the opportunity to work out with some guys, but obviously with social distancing and everything going on, it’s not the same way. Any time we can get valuable information from any of our players about guys they know, guys they’re a part of, it’s important for us to listen to that because a lot of it, it’s dating before you marry, so you don’t really know anyone until they’re really in your building unless you’ve already had that experience with them.”
One thing Roseman hit on that is undeniably accurate. It’s not the same this year. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii