PHILADELPHIA - Over the past two years, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has decided to put his thumb on the scale during the second round of the NFL Draft, steering his organization to select receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside at No. 57 overall in the 2019 process and again chiming in to make sure Jalen Hurts was wearing green after the 53rd selection last year.
Despite that, general manager Howie Roseman insisted that nothing has changed when it comes to Lurie and how he runs the Eagles.
"Jeffery's involvement is the same as it's always been," Roseman noted during his pre-draft availability on Wednesday. "He's there to make sure he's looking through our process. If he has any questions about why we are doing things, we are going to have those discussions about why the process looks like it does, why are draft boards based on the descriptions that the coaches and scouts are giving on this player."
It's notable, however, when asked about picks that weren't true to the organization's draft board over the past two years, Roseman didn't deny that was the case, albeit shifting the impetus to that onto the former coaching staff.
"I think when you talk about how you arrive at a final grade, you're trying to get obviously what the guys who have been on the road and done all the work done, and also get what [VP of player personnel] Andy [Weidl] talked about, the perspective of the fit and the vision from the coaching staff," said Roseman. "Because at the end of the day, when they're on the field, they're the coaches, and the vision has to fit what they're looking for at each position."
Some will consider that assigning blame for failures, but Roseman was also sure to avoid putting any punctuation on the 2021 draft when the coaching staff ignored the scouting staff's recommendation of Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor at No. 21 overall.
"The book hasn't been written on last year's draft, either, so excited for those guys to get with Coach [Nick Sirianni] and his staff," said Roseman.
As for Lurie, the narrative is that the owner has become more meddlesome post-Chip Kelly, something Roseman tried to clear up.
"He is taking notes on those [prospects]," he said about Lurie. "They aren't his evaluations, they are based on the coaches and scouts. He is making sure they fit what he is looking for from the value of that spot. If we are talking about a guy in the first round like a role player, he may stand up and say 'wait a minute, is that really what we are looking for in a first-round pick?'
"He is not saying 'this is my opinion, this guy is a role player or not.'"
Most work on the draft should be done before the big day, according to those around the league, including former Tennessee personnel executive Blake Benningfield, who spoke with SI.com's Eagle Maven on Birds 365 earlier this week.
Per Roseman, the Eagles leave the door slightly ajar.
"In terms of his role in the draft room, 90 percent of the time the work is done," he said. "It's all done, and you're just picking them off based on where it is."
"Now, you may get in a situation where you have a couple of guys and you're trying to decide based on them having the same grade. In terms of what [Lurie's] role is, again, like he's listening to the conversations that we're having on there, and if he hears something that doesn't really make sense based on some of the meetings we're having he may say, 'Hey, I remember in that meeting Jonathan Gannon felt like this wasn't a guy who really fit his system.'
"I'm making something up. He may jump in that like. But he's not jumping in terms of saying I had this guy higher so let's go and select that guy."
In the cases of Arcega-Whiteside and Hurts specifically, the disconnect is likely tied to the boss steering his employees in the direction he wants in place of the actual order.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.