Andy Reid used to say it doesn’t matter where you find good players, as long as you find them. Chris Long put it a little more poetically: “The play doesn’t care who made it.”
The Eagles haven’t drafted well. We all know that. They don’t have the best track record recently signing free agents. We know that.
Names like Chase Daniel, Marcus Smith, Mike Wallace, Danny Watkins and Zach Brown have become punchlines more than anything.
Yet here we are. The Eagles won their last four games, won the NFC East title and are one of just four teams on their way to the playoffs for the third straight year.
Howie Roseman has taken a lot of heat for many of his moves, much of it deserved.
The Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl player on defense since Fletcher Cox in 2012 and moves like guaranteeing Alshon Jeffery’s 2020 contract, exercising Nelson Agholor’s $9.4 million 2019 option, drafting JJ Arcega-Whiteside over Terry McLaurin or D.K. Metcalf, bringing back Darren Sproles for another year and so on leave Roseman open to plenty of scrutiny.
But the Eagles are in the playoffs once again, and they got there while missing most of their projected offense and a significant chunk of their defense, and when you see former practice squad guys like Josh Perkins, Boston Scott, Deontay Burnett, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Jake Elliott and Greg Ward make play after play after play, you realize it’s more than just luck.
They didn’t just show up here. They’re here because Roseman and his staff identified every one of these unknown, unheralded guys as potential contributors, and whether you find a playmaker in the first round of the draft while millions of people watch on national TV or sign someone to your practice squad without anybody noticing, it doesn’t matter.
If LeBlanc was a second-round pick, Scott was a third-round pick, Ward a fourth-rounder and Perkins a fifth, we’d all be celebrating last year’s draft.
But they all became Eagles last year, they’re all former practice squad players, and they were all enormous Sunday in the biggest game of the year with a division title on the line.
The Eagles beat the Giants 34-17 and all 34 points were scored by former practice squad players.
Those points count just as much as if they were scored by first-round picks.
And that win was just as dramatic and just as exciting and just as memorable as it would have been if a bunch of premium draft picks caught all those passes, scored all those touchdowns, made all those plays.
Roseman is an easy target sometimes, and when you just focus on the Eagles’ draft record, his performance hasn’t been great, although the Eagles certainly nailed the Miles Sanders pick.
But when you break down what Roseman, vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl and the personnel staff does, it goes far beyond the draft.
It’s about finding players. No matter where you get them.
Now, this isn’t to say Roseman has cobbled together a championship roster out of a bunch of practice squad players. This isn’t a Super Bowl team.
And looking at the future, there are some major concerns.
The Eagles desperately need playmakers on defense and outside receivers on offense.
Their best linemen on both sides of the ball are older players, and at some point in the next couple years, many of them will have to be replaced. That won’t be easy.
But give credit where credit is due. The Eagles are rolling right now, and these way-under-the-radar moves Roseman has made are a big reason why.
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