Since 1991, the Eagles have had 25 first-round draft picks.
Three receivers. Two quarterbacks. One cornerback.
And 19 linemen.
This is Howie Roseman’s philosophy. It’s Joe Douglas’s philosophy. It was Andy Reid and Tom Heckert’s philosophy and, even before Big Red got here, it was Tom Modrak’s philosophy.
Build up the lines first.
And nobody has done it more than the Eagles.
Since 1991, the Eagles have drafted more linemen in the first round than any other team.
They’ve taken 11 defensive linemen — tied for most in the league during the last 28 drafts — and they’ve taken eight offensive linemen, third-most behind the Seahawks and Lions.
The most combined linemen?
19 … Eagles [8 OL, 11 DL]
17 … 49ers [6 OL, 11 DL]
16 … Rams [6 OL, 10 DL]
14 … Seahawks [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Lions [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Saints [6 OL, 8 DL]
13 … Patriots [6 OL, 7 DL]
13 … Cardinals [6 OL, 7 DL]
12 … Jets [2 OL, 10 DL]
12 … Buccaneers [3 OL, 9 DL]
12 … Vikings [8 OL, 4 DL]
The only non-linemen the Eagles have taken in the first round since 1991?
Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb in 19991 and Carson Wentz in 2016, both with the No. 2 pick. Receivers Freddie Mitchell in 2001, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Nelson Agholor in 2015. And cornerback Lito Sheppard in 2002.
And you know what? There’s a good chance they’ll take another one this year at No. 25.
Much of the rest of the league has adopted the Andy Reid philosophy to build up the lines first and then fill in the blanks.
Most mocks drafts have 17 to 19 linemen going in the first round this year — more than half.
During Roseman’s years as general manager — 2010 through 2018, minus 2015 — the Eagles have taken four defensive linemen (Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett), two offensive linemen (Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson) and Wentz.
With picks in the first half of the draft?
The only non-linemen since 1989 are McNabb and Wentz.
You’re always a product of the people you’re around, and just growing up in this environment and this system and where coach Reid was and someone that really put a huge emphasis on that, it was something that stuck," Roseman said. "We won a lot of games with that philosophy. We try to study what other teams are doing, what successful teams are doing, and you see, it’s important obviously to build along the lines and sometimes you say that, but you have to reflect it also with your actions.
Roseman first joined the Eagles in 2000 as a salary cap intern, so he was around Reid from Corey Simon through Cox.
And Douglas, Roseman’s No. 1 adviser and the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, shares his philosophy to build from the inside out:
Joe and I, when we started talking about building teams, it was quickly apparent that we believe in the same things. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements on certain players, that doesn’t mean there are other things that we kind of see differently because of his background and how he was raised in this business, but that adds to it.
The first round of this draft is jam-packed with talented defensive, and there are some very good o-line prospects as well.
The Eagles don’t generally draft for need, but of their five projected 2019 offensive line starters and four projected d-line starters, only Isaac Seumalo will be under 29 when OTAs start next month.
So you can hope for a receiver, a running back or a cornerback. Based on what we know about Howie? Based on recent history? Based on what just may make the most sense?
It’ll be a lineman. Again.
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