The NFL draft starts a week from last night and ends a week from tomorrow. New Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said yesterday that moving the draft into a 3-day format, taking teams off the clock overnight after Round 1 and then again after Round 3, virtually guarantees more of another sort of moving.
"Because of the lull in the time, I think there's going to be more trades, moving up and moving back," Roseman said during a predraft session with reporters. "We're excited about that. We think we have a lot of ammunition to do both those things, and if the opportunity presents itself, we'll go there."
The Eagles have 11 picks in what is being touted as an exceptionally deep draft. They are slated to pick five times among the first 87 choices, through three rounds - or through Friday, the date for Rounds 2 and 3 this year. Roseman said the Eagles decided to try to add to their original slate of six choices because this draft offers so much talent.
"We saw that this draft could really help us, from an overall team perspective, and we went out and we got five other picks, two of them [compensatory picks] from the league, and we feel like they're in strong places in the draft," he said.
Roseman said he will look at the Birds' first of two second-round picks - No. 37 overall, obtained from the Redskins for Donovan McNabb - as "the fifth pick in the draft" that day.
"I think it's going to be fun," he said.
It'll certainly be more fun for Roseman than his first draft with the Eagles, in 2001. Hired as a guy with a law degree who could help with the salary cap, Roseman manned the phone in the war room, relaying selections to video coordinator Mike Dougherty, who always makes the Birds' picks at the scene in New York. This year, Roseman will have a little more to say about the names being relayed.
It's not like the Eagles have been afraid to move around under previous draft formats. Last season they drafted eight players. Only four of those - LeSean McCoy (53rd overall), Macho Harris (157th), Brandon Gibson (194th) and Moise Fokou (230th) - were taken with original Eagles draft picks. The Birds haven't drafted in their scheduled first-round spot since 2006, when they chose defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley 14th overall. Staying put in the first is something they've done just twice in the past 7 years.
"If you look at it, there are a couple things that we're studying here," when deciding whether to move out of a spot, Roseman said. "One is that is that player that you anticipate being there at 24, do you have to move up for him, and if you do, what are you giving up to do that? And then you look at the history of those trades - including some of the trades we've made - and you kind of weigh the pluses and minuses of getting that guy, and what it will do for you . . . We go into the draft with a set list of players that we're trying to obtain, and if we see that we're in position to get some of them, we go after them."
Most NFL personnel people caution against drafting for need early. Roseman said that's a particular danger when you're drafting 24th.
"Especially in the latter part of the first round, if you take a perceived need as opposed to best player, you go and look at the best available players, they go on to become Pro Bowl players, and now if it's a long-term decision for your team, you've passed on a Pro Bowl player," he said. "So we don't want to be in a position where we do that."
Roseman said the Eagles followed that dictum last year. He said they hadn't targeted wide receiver in the first round, but Jeremy Maclin kept dropping, until they traded up from 21st to 19th with Cleveland to nab him, because they thought he was an exceptional value in that spot.
Obviously, Roseman wasn't about to divulge any information about what the Eagles might do this time. Asked if the trade of starting cornerback Sheldon Brown made that position a high priority, Roseman expressed "a lot of confidence" in Ellis Hobbs, who didn't cover very well last season before suffering a serious neck injury and missing the second half of the season.
"Well, Sheldon Brown has been a good starter for us. To say that we don't need to replace a player of Sheldon Brown's quality, no, I think we do. We just also have a lot of confidence in Ellis Hobbs. We went and traded for him the last draft day," Roseman said. "He didn't have an opportunity to play as much due to his injury, and we have some young guys that we're counting on. Jose [Joselio Hanson] is going to come back here and we have some guys that can play both safety and corner," such as Marlin Jackson and Harris, who was a safety as a rookie.
Roseman acknowledged that the possible return of Jeff Garcia might hinge on whether the Eagles draft a developmental quarterback, something they probably would like to do but can't be certain of accomplishing - especially since they aren't likely to be looking for a QB early in what is not a strong QB field.
Roseman said he anticipates Michael Vick will be with the Eagles this season, but he said they continue to field offers, as he said they would for virtually any player.
Asked about teams near the top of the draft wanting to move down, Roseman said that seems to be the case, as it has been for several years, with teams feeling high picks get too much guaranteed money under the expiring collective bargaining agreement. (That's one of the main reasons owners are unhappy and the sport could be facing a 2011 lockout.) The move-way-up scenario might be one Eagles fans should watch. Tennessee's Eric Berry and Texas' Earl Thomas are safeties who cover like corners (and who might become NFL corners), both widely expected to go in the top 10, if not the top five. Either player would be a huge acquistion for the Birds.
Roseman said the defensive-line crop is particularly deep in this draft, and that certainly is an area that ought to interest the Eagles, as well.
"We have more defensive linemen graded [as being worthy of being selected] in the first three rounds than we've had in the whole drafts the last 3 years," Roseman said.
Sav stands alone
Eagles offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles signed his restricted free agent tender, agreeing to a 1-year contract. Jean-Gilles had been a restricted free agent.
Only punter Sav Rocca remains unsigned. Yesterday was the deadline for other teams to make offers to RFAs; teams have until June to re-sign their own players. Rocca spends his offseasons in his native Australia and is expected to sign when he returns for the first minicamp, in less than 2 weeks.
For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.