PHOENIX - With apologies to Joe Douglas, his hiring was not "the pivotal moment of the last year," as Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.
In fact, it probably wasn't even one of the top four most notable moments for the Eagles from the last calendar year. That list would likely include the trade for the No. 2 overall draft pick, the selection of Carson Wentz, the unloading of Sam Bradford, and the season-opening victory, when it became apparent that the rookie quarterback was likely worth the three aforementioned decisions.
It was Lurie, after all, who said that the best organizational structure was to have "a terrific quarterback." While the jury is still out on Wentz in terms of his ceiling, 2016 will always be remembered as the year the Eagles pushed the majority of their chips in on the redheaded North Dakotan.
But the May addition of Douglas was prominent, nonetheless, because of how the Eagles have framed his role as vice president of player personnel, and, if accurate, how he will come to influence the building of the roster around Wentz.
Howie Roseman has had lieutenants before, with Ryan Grigson and Tom Gamble serving as vice presidents of player personnel. But they were never given as much autonomy over the draft as Douglas has been afforded, at least according to Lurie.
"The draft is going to be really built by Joe," Lurie said, before adding the ever-important caveat that "the final decision will be made by Howie."
The personnel department is ultimately Roseman's responsibility, after all. He will own every decision made in player acquisition. But has the executive vice president of football operations ceded more authority in the scouting and ranking of prospects than ever before? Has he accepted his limitations as an evaluator and focused more on his strengths as a negotiator and idea guy?
If Douglas is truly crafting the draft board and the Eagles choose the best available players, then there is really little for Roseman to do other than call in the selections. But drafts hardly unfold without surprises. Roseman has rarely sat for three days without making several showy trades.
Standing pat isn't always a recipe for success, but built-from-the-draft-up franchises like the Steelers and Packers have gone entire drafts over the last decade without moving up or down. Can Roseman trust the process and leave Douglas' board alone?
"These guys are unbelievably collaborative. I haven't seen anything like this," Lurie said of Roseman and Douglas. "We have such trust, I think, in Joe that basically when that board's there, unless there's something extraordinary that happens, it's going to be set by Joe, and Howie will just make the final decision in case of anything."
Douglas has spent a good amount of his 10 months with the Eagles on the road. He crisscrossed the country in search of the best collegiate talent during the season, has attended all the predraft events (all-star games, the combine, pro days), and will dot some final i's during the Eagles' 30 allotted visits.
Almost all of his work is done, but this is the month in which he must deliver. The Eagles have eight draft picks - one in each round and two in the fourth - and it is imperative that they get not only good players but impact ones.
You can count on one hand the number of Pro Bowls Eagles draftees have attended (Fletcher Cox 2, Jason Kelce 2, Nick Foles) since Roseman became general manager in 2010. The Cowboys, by comparison, have had 21 over that same span.
Roseman can't be faulted for the 2015 draft. That was Chip Kelly's baby. But Lurie took a risk in placing Roseman back in charge of personnel, partly because it would hamper his search for a head coach, but also because his draft record had been dubious. But in hiring Douglas, and assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl, Roseman appears to have addressed that weakness.
Douglas was a scout in the Ravens organization for more than 15 years before heading to Chicago for a year. It's unclear why the Bears would let him walk while under contract, and while it is nearly impossible to give him ultimate credit for any players selected during those stops, he is well thought of in scouting circles.
"When I'm talking to a lot of GMs here," Lurie said from the Biltmore Hotel, "I get a lot of congratulations about Carson, and I go, 'Aw, look, it's just one year.' But I get more talk about attracting Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl more than almost anything else.
"The proof's in the pudding. We have to have several strong drafts."
Aside from Wentz, the Eagles have a few young pieces already in place - defensive tackle Cox, eventual left tackle Lane Johnson, and tight end Zach Ertz are probably the most secure. But even those three aren't assured of being on the roster in three years, when Wentz could be playing under a franchise-caliber contract.
And last year's draft probably didn't net another impact player because the Eagles had only one pick from Rounds 2 to 4. They need to get studs to surround Wentz on both sides of the ball and they need to start immediately with five picks in the first four rounds of what is expected to be a deep draft later this month.
If Douglas can deliver, assuming the draft is his, then Lurie's statement will be a self-fulfilling prophecy and not hyperbole.