Roseman using draft, free agency to strengthen Eagles’ roster

Posted on June 2, 2022

You would be challenged to find an NFL management career with more twists, turns, tumult and thrills than Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ executive vice president/general manager.

Roseman, who turns 47 on June 23, was rockin’ down the highway as the Eagles celebrated their only Super Bowl victory in 2018 with a parade in Center City. For Roseman, who joined the Eagles as an unpaid intern in 2000, dues were paid and checks were cashed.

Three years before, he was the proverbial road kill, removed from his general manager’s job when control freak Chip Kelly wanted to both coach and be the team’s general manager. Roseman was relegated to managing the team’s salary cap and overseeing salary negotiations —  a glorified pencil pusher. That was an enviable NFL position for some but not for Roseman.

When Kelly imploded a year later, in spectacular fashion,  Roseman regained control of the Eagles’ roster. No one knew it at the time — or even suspected it — but Howie continued the build to the Super Bowl.

The Eagles’ media guide describes Roseman as “the architect of the first Super Bowl in franchise history.” Roseman was named general manager in 2010. He was 34 years old.

Once is never enough when you get a taste of a championship. That’s where Roseman’s efforts now are concentrated — working to get the Eagles back into Super Bowl contention. Piece by piece, through the draft and free agency, Roseman might be building an NFC powerhouse.

The thorough and long-lasting way to rebuild an NFL roster? Through the draft, where Roseman has had mixed results. (Narrator: All teams have mixed results.) Success usually begins with dominant first-round picks and quality early picks.

Howie Roseman, Eagles: First-Round Picks

  • 2010 — Edge rusher Brandon Graham (13th pick)
  • 2011 — Guard Danny Watkins (23rd pick)
  • 2012 — Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (12th pick)
  • 2013 — Offensive tackle Lane Johnson (4th pick)
  • 2014 — Edge rusher Marcus Smith (26th pick)
  • 2015 — Roseman was not part of the selection committee making draft picks. Nelson Agholor was the top pick. Eric Rowe was their second pick and Jordan Hicks was picked third.
  • 2016 — Quarterback Carson Wentz (2nd pick)
  • 2017 — Edge rusher Derek Barnett (14th pick)
  • 2018 — First-round pick traded to Baltimore Ravens
  • 2019 — Offensive tackle Andre Dillard (22nd pick)
  • 2020 — Wide receiver Jalen Reagor (21st pick)
  • 2021 — Wide receiver DeVonta Smith (10th pick)
  • 2022 — Defensive tackle Jordan Davis (13th pick)

Not every team hits a home run with their first-round picks. Certainly, Roseman did not.

For example:

  • Brandon Graham has been outstanding, along with Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson. Watkins, the Canadian firefighter, was 26 years old when he was oddly picked at No. 23 overall. Watkins was the oldest NFL Draft choice since 1971. He lasted two laughable seasons with the Eagles.
  • Marcus Smith was a bust, not starting a single game in his three years in Philadelphia.
  • Carson Wentz flamed out after an outstanding 2017 season. He often was injured and developed a knack for interceptions. Still, without Wentz’s 11-2 record before tearing his ACL, there wouldn’t have been a Super Bowl championship in title-starved Philadelphia.

Barnett has been 50-50. Some good games, more games with silly penalties and mistakes. Still, this would be considered a decent pick.

Dillard hasn’t been able to stay in the starting lineup when presented with opportunities due to teammates’ injuries. He’s still with the team but constantly rumored to be as part of a trade.

The Reagor, Jefferson Factor

The Eagles’ intense fan base runs hot and cold with Roseman — sometimes mirroring the Philadelphia Eagles record but mostly wailing about the picks that Howie didn’t make. The recent prime example is the selection of Reagor at 21 in 2020, one slot before the Chargers selected Justin Jefferson. Both are fast wide receivers. One catches lots of NFL passes, the other not so much.

Reagor has underachieved while Jefferson had made All-Pro second team in each of his two seasons.

Last year’s top pick, DeVonta Smith, had a tremendous rookie season and is widely considered a star in the making.

The Eagles are hoping for such star power from this year’s top pick, Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 340 pounds. The Eagles expect Davis, perhaps by himself, to be an imposing run stopper in the interior of the defensive line.

So, to recap:

Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ GM, had six good picks and four bombs at No. 1, with Davis to be determined.

Since the Super Bowl victory, the Eagles’ rebuild has had mixed results in the draft.

In 2018, the Eagles had four successful picks — tight end Dallas Goedert, cornerback Avonte Maddox, defensive end Josh Sweat and massive offensive tackle Jordan Mailata. Goedert and Mailata are important cornerstones on offense.

Maddox and Sweat are valuable contributors on defense. Their fifth pick, Matt Pryor, played two uneventful seasons with Philly before being traded to the Colts.

The 2019 draft was mostly a flop, except for running back Miles Sanders. Besides Dillard, defensive end Shareef Miller played one game; quarterback Clayton Thorson has bounced around several practice squads.

Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been unproductive and is attempting to redefine himself as a tight end. When healthy, Sanders makes the running game go.

In 2020, after Reagor, starting quarterback Jalen Hurts was taken in the second round. Should Hurts become a triumphant starter, he makes this draft a huge success. Sixth-round pick Quez Watkins is considered a starter on depth charts.

The Eagles still have five other players on the roster from the 2020 draft:

  • Round 3: Davion Taylor, linebacker
  • Round 4: K’Von Wallace, safety
  • Round 4: Jack Driscoll, offensive tackle
  • Round 5: John Hightower, wide receiver
  • Round 6: Shaun Bradley, linebacker
  • Round 6: Watkins, wide receiver

2021 Was A Great Draft

In 2021, second-round pick Landon Dickerson helped solidify an injured offensive line. He started 13 games as a rookie and looks like a Pro Bowl-level player. Along with DeVonta Smith, these two made this a great draft. The Eagles also have seen solid contributions from defensive lineman Milton Williams and running back Kenneth Gainwell.

The 2022 picks have potential … but training camp is still more than a month away. Center Cam Jurgens could take over for Jason Kelce one day. Linebacker Nakobe Dean is considered one of the steals of the draft at the 83rd overall pick. And, Dean fills a position often neglected on draft day by the Eagles.

Draft picks aren’t the only barometer by which to judge a general manager. Roseman is a savant when managing the salary cap. He had a major say in hiring Super Bowl champion coach Doug Pederson and current coach Nick Sirianni.

Roseman’s greatest gift might be his knack in acquiring future draft capital in often favorable exchanges. Roseman is aggressive on draft day, often trading up to land the player he wants.

Look, drafts are dicey. Some work out, some don’t. This offseason, via free agency, Roseman acquired linebackers Haason Reddick and Kyzir White and wide receivers Zach Pascal and Devon White.

Trading for a superstar often is a shortcut a general manager can take when such an opportunity presents itself. That’s what Roseman did this spring, when he landed top-shelf wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Titans.

Brown is 24 years old. In three seasons, he has 185 catches for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns.

A.J. Brown is no Jalen Reagor. And nobody knows that better than Howie Roseman.

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Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman is an Eagles writer for Chuck formerly was the Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Executive Sports Editor of the Courier-Post in South Jersey. He learned how to cuss by watching Philly sports.

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