NFL Draft 2021: Eagles need to get coaching, scouting staffs on same page

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Dave Zangaro
·5 min read
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Eagles need to start pulling in same direction in draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

For a franchise that has thrown around the word “collaboration” in recent years as if it gets paid per use, the Eagles haven’t exactly been pulling in the same direction, especially when it comes to the draft.

It’s hard to build a team like that.

This time last year, the Eagles used their first and second picks on Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts, reportedly twice veering from their draft board to make questionable selections. That’s an assertion Howie Roseman did not deny when given the chance on Wednesday.

In the case of Reagor, the Eagles picked the speedy receiver from TCU instead of Justin Jefferson from LSU, despite the fact that Jefferson was higher on the Eagles’ draft board, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported during last season. That report alleges that Roseman “sided with his coaches over his scouts” as it pertained to the Eagles’ decision at No. 21.

All that leads us to now as the Eagles enter the 2022 draft with a brand new coaching staff, led by head coach Nick Sirianni and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, in place.

Because there are naturally going to be some disagreements on player evaluations. Entire franchises won’t always agree on everything. And in the modern NFL, paranoia rules, so draft circles constrict annually. But there needs to be some transparency in the internal process.

Most importantly, there needs to be a good relationship and an understanding between the scouting department, coaching staff, the analytics department and, yes, even the owner, who has been known to weigh in as well. Ideally, Roseman shouldn’t have to choose sides.

Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl, as the head of the team’s scouting department, said some encouraging things on Wednesday.

“We're an extension of the coaching staff ultimately, the scouts, and we want to go out and find the players that best fit this program that are going to come in and hit the ground and go,” Weidl said.

“I think when you have alignment between that and like we had last week, you had a bunch of people talking about players, how they saw them, their viewpoint, and there's no ego involved, you're just trying to get the player right, and ultimately that's what we're trying to do is get the player right for the Philadelphia Eagles.

When you have that alignment and everybody is in sync, great things are possible.”

That’s ultimately the idea.

Weidl said that after Sirianni’s coaching staff was completed, the new coaching staff and the scouts all got together virtually on a Zoom call. That’s when the coaches “laid out with great clarity” the intricacies of their offense and defense. While there’s some carryover from the previous staff, especially on defense, there are “also some nuances,” according to Weidl.

“The main thing is just getting on the same page, and I think we did that,” Weidl said.

Just last week, the Eagles held meetings between the coaching staff and the scouts and Weidl said he was able to see the chemistry between the two sides develop and evolve. The Eagles hope that process will continue next week when their scouts, who have been spread out across the country, will be back at the NovaCare Complex for the first time since last February. It’ll also be a chance for those scouts to meet the new coaching staff in person for the first time.

A scout’s job is to evaluate players. But the next level of that is for the scout to truly understand their team’s schemes and how players would potentially be used by the coaching staff.

According to Weidl, this new coaching staff has done a good job laying out exactly what it wants in its players and the intricacies of their schemes so that scouts can do their jobs better.

So what kind of players does the new coaching staff want?

Well, Sirianni didn’t get into too many specifics. But he talked about giving examples to the scouting department on individual players. So if they’re talking about Receiver X, Sirianni makes it a point to explain to the scouts and personnel departments exactly how that player would be used in his system.

“Here's what we're looking for, players out there, Eagle players out there,” Sirianni said. “Here's what we want it to look like. Well, it's the same thing here in the scouting process. Hey, here's how we would use this player. Here's the skill set this player has and here's how we've used this type of player in the past, just to expand on that just a little bit more.”

This all sounds good the week before their first draft together … before we see how the process actually plays out. If you’re skeptical, maybe there’s good reason to be. After all, Roseman’s draft record in recent years has left much to be desired and while we don’t yet know about the results from the 2020 draft, the way the process played out probably didn’t leave you with much confidence.

Trust goes a long way and there seems to have been at least some level of dysfunction in the NovaCare Complex in recent years, which was highlighted in that recent story from The Athletic. But the old coaching staff is gone and a new one is here. And it seems very apparent the Eagles have worked this offseason on making sure those two sides of the franchise will see eye to eye.

“I think we're all on the same page here,” Roseman said.

That would be a good start.

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