As there is every year in April, there are a bevy of unanswered questions and intriguing curiosities as the Eagles prepare the the 2017 NFL draft.
But in stark contrast to last season, where the ascension of rookie head coach Doug Pederson to the helm of the Birds and a chaotic quarterback controversy involving soon-to-be drafted Carson Wentz and highly paid veterans Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, this season is different.
The Eagles, for the most part, know what they are doing in terms of scheme and personnel.
"When a head coach gets into his second year, it’s a little bit like a player going from that rookie year to the sophomore year," former NFL head coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci said. "It’s a world of difference. You’ve been through everything, you’ve been through camp, you’ve been through the ups and downs of the season, drafts and combines and free agency. You know your team better than you did. … Doug Pederson had to learn who his players were, and who he wants on his team. From that standpoint, it’s a huge plus going into Year 2. He will understand which direction they want to be in in terms of offense and defense, what kinds of players fit the scheme instead of inheriting a bunch of players to fit into a scheme. You can get players through the draft and free agency who fit."
Things will be different for Howie Roseman and his front office staff as well, as the decision-makers will have a much better sense of what direction they need to go in for each position, whether it's emphasizing athleticism or size at a position or the fit of a college scheme. And as another former NFL head coach, Brian Billick, said, the decision-making will happen more quickly in the sometimes chaotic draft environment.
"Everybody should be a little more on-line," the former Ravens skipper said. "Coaches and scouts alike, as to those conversations, last year it was in theory but this year, there is no ambiguity about it. You have lived it. The scouts can see it, if they didn’t before they understand how you will use that corner or that tight end. It makes the conversations a lot more efficient. Everybody should be on the same page as to what it is they are looking for."
The Eagles pick at No. 14 Thursday night and their needs are pretty apparent — weapons for Wentz and help in the secondary. But the specific fits could potentially be better this year than last, as the team knows what kinds of players they covet.
Pederson Year 2 starts now.