Eagles Assistant Director of Player Personnel Ed Marynowitz was formerly the Director of Player Personnel at the University of Alabama. Marynowitz oversaw the recruiting operation for head coach Nick Saban. It was his job to identify and recommend high school players, as well as organize the scouting process.
Marynowitz noted some similarities in recruiting high school kids and evaluating college prospects for the pros. "We were looking for the best players in the country," said Marynowitz. "We recruited nationally, so (there were) a lot of parallels in terms of how you're going to identify prospects."
Marynowitz's high school background played a part in the Eagles selecting Bryce Brown in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, according to General Manager Howie Roseman.
"Having someone like Ed here, who was in some of those high school recruits' houses," said Roseman, "he has seen a lot of the high school tape, and it's interesting to talk to him when we get in those situations.
"Bryce is a great example of this. We went off of Bryce's tape at Tennessee, because there was no tape at Kansas State. Knowing what kind of talent he was coming out of high school, I remember watching some tape of him in high school, talking to Ed about it, and Ed and Nick (Saban) being in his house trying to recruit him (to Alabama), and how talented he was."
The Eagles have a history of acquiring players who were standouts in high school. In the last five years, no team has drafted more "Top 100" Rivals.com high school prosects than the Eagles:
Marynowitz acknowledged that high school success is considered when evaluating a pro prospect.
"(High school success) is part of it," said Marynowitz. "It's part of knowing the player's background. That's one of many parts of the evaluation process. I think you put a little bit of weight on that, especially since, the more we go along, these recruiting services are getting better and better.
"You've got Barkley, you've got Bryce Brown, you've got Russell Shepard. I mean those guys were three guys that were Top 5 by ESPN."
It goes beyond Barkley, Brown, and Shepard. It also goes beyond just the draft. The Eagles have employed at least 33 players who were former Rivals "Top 100" prospects. They were acquired in a wide variety of ways:
Five of the names on the above list were undrafted free agents who the Eagles acquired at the conclusion of the draft. The Eagles have yet to hit on a former high school stud turned UDFA, although Bryce Brown would be an example of something close to that, as he was drafted in the 7th (last) round, while Russell Shepard is a threat to make this season's final 53-man roster.
Vice President of Player Personnel Tom Gamble talked about signing high school standouts as undrafted free agents, and gave an example of a success story in that regard from his days with the Colts. "We ended up signing a college free agent years ago, Dominic Rhodes in Indianapolis," Gamble said. "Edgerrin James goes down, and Rhodes ends up rushing for 1,000 yards (Note: it was 1,104, to be exact). When we got into the process (of evaluating Rhodes), he was a 5A player of the year, maybe there were some academics, and some other stuff. We signed him right after the draft and he may still be the only college rookie free agent rookie to rush for 1,000 yards.
Marynowitz was careful to note that obviously, what the player did in college is more important.
"I think you take it with a grain of salt," Maryonwitz said. "You still need to evaluate the players for what they are. But obviously they did something in high school in terms of athletically, for them to jump out to somebody. So I think you may want to take an extra look at them. Or before you put a low grade on a guy like that because you didn't see something, then maybe you revisit him a little bit more. Obviously those guys have something in their body that they have done something in (high school) that attracted other places, and you want to pay attention to that.
"Any kind of background and bio that we can get we're going to research. We do daily stuff in terms of, whether it's twitter stuff and just Google searches, we go back to the recruiting pages. You want to find out as much information on these players as you can. Whether (the prospect) was all-state, all-conference, or those kinds of things, or statistical things from high school, and obviously more weight is put on what they do in college. I think all that stuff is important. You really want to paint the full picture for what the guy is and what he has done."