MOBILE, Ala. — A few weeks ago, when Howie Roseman met with reporters in his end-of-the-season press conference, he lauded the contributions of Joe Douglas and said it was Douglas who would set the team’s draft board.
The Eagles’ new vice president of player personnel wanted to clear something up about the Eagles’ draft board.
“It’s going to be ours,” Douglas said in a corner of Ladd-Peebles Stadium after watching the North Senior Bowl team practice on Wednesday. “Not just me, not just Howie, but our scouts. Everyone that did the work, everyone has a say. It’s not just me, Howie, it’s going to be our scouts, Doug, our position coaches and the coordinators too.”
Douglas, 40, who worked his way up from a scout and spent 15 years in the Ravens’ organization, learned from Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome. And one of the many things Douglas has carried over is the idea that everyone involved in the draft process should have a say.
During his first mass media availability since he was hired in May, Douglas talked about the importance of developing quality talent evaluators, saying the only way for them to get better is by watching film and writing reports. Then, he wants them to have a say in meetings when the draft board is arranged.
“We want to have the best scouting staff, evaluation staff in the NFL,” he said.
Setting a draft board isn’t easy. It’s a long process, one that’s already well underway. “You don’t set it all at once,” Douglas said. “There’s different stages.”
Douglas and assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl, who came to Philly with him, had initial meetings with scouts in December. They’ll have another round of meetings with them in February before the combine and then once again in April before the draft. In addition to scouts, the personnel team will meet with Doug Pederson, his coordinators and position coaches. Input from coaches is “vital,” according to Douglas.
Hiring Douglas was the result of a lengthy search for a new personnel head after Roseman was reinstated into football power following the firing of Chip Kelly in December of 2015. Douglas got his start with the Ravens as a player personnel assistant in 2000 and worked his way up to national scout before leaving for Chicago. With the Bears, Douglas was the director of college scouting for one year before the Eagles came calling.
When asked how he learned to evaluate football players, Douglas said it started as a player; he was an offensive tackle at Richmond and still looks like a football player. After that, he credited people like Newsome, former Browns GM Phil Savage, Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta and Cardinals GM Terry McDonough for helping him learn the draft.
This, however, is the first time in his career Douglas is charged with evaluating players at the pro level in addition to college and it’s taken some getting used to. He said he’s learned a lot about the business side of the pro game from Roseman.
A big challenge in his new job has simply been allocating his time.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment after so long just strictly worrying about college and going on visits,” Douglas said. “It’s definitely been a challenge. Time management is a part of this business and it’s been good rearranging my schedule and burning both ends of the candle, so to speak.”
It seems pretty clear, at least for now, Douglas’ specialty is evaluating college prospects and he’s had to see a lot of them during Senior Bowl week. He said there are prototypes for certain positions — height, weight, speed — but said there’s a lot more to evaluating than that, and although most of the team’s scouts pre-date his arrival, he thinks they’re all on the same page.
“Everybody’s looking for mentally tough, smart, physically tough guys,” he said.
Douglas stressed the importance of his scouts' really getting to know the prospects as players and as people, learning about them aside from what can be seen on film. That means building important relationships based on trust with people inside the schools.
There are just over three months until the draft in Philly.
“I think this is a very good draft,” Douglas said. “I think Howie might have touched on a couple different positions. I think this is a very good draft at tight end, at running back, corner, wide receiver.
“I think there’s a lot of good players out there.”
Soon it will be time to see if Douglas helps the Eagles pick them.