PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The calendar says Howie Roseman will preside over his third NFL draft as general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles.
It's the first one he can really put his stamp on.
Roseman replaced Tom Heckert in January 2010, just a few months before the draft - when most of the scouting and grading of players already was complete. Last year, the lockout changed much of the landscape, and free agency came after the draft.
"You want to put your own spin on it and you want to bring in some of your own people and the people that share your philosophy," Roseman said. "And I think that takes time."
With three of the top 51 picks in this draft, and nine picks overall, one thing is clear.
The time is now.
"There's an evolution of trying to get guys, guys who have contracts, bring them into the building and if you're changing things, certainly in the first year, you can't do that right away because you're coming in in January, the scouting's going on and then you have a draft right there," Roseman said. "And the second year, last year was a unique situation. No excuses, but it was a unique situation in terms of the timing of the draft and free agency."
"You feel like this is the first year that really the playing field is level and it is what it was supposed to be," Roseman said. "I'm really excited about that. I'm excited about our football team that we have now, excited to add to that, and excited about the future."
The Eagles need to bolster a defense that struggled badly before a season-ending, four-game winning streak. A pass rusher and a playmaking safety are tops of Philadelphia's list of needs. Safety Mark Barron (Alabama), tackles Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State), Michael Brockers (LSU) and Jerel Worthy (Michigan State) or ends Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and Nick Perry (USC) could be the choice with the 15th pick.
Of course, Roseman insists the Eagles will follow the popular pre-draft cliche, and take the "best player available."
"I think when we go back and look back at our drafts, sometimes we have probably drafted based on need, based on some circumstances," he said, "and we're trying to make sure that we're taking the best player available now, going forward."
He may have been referring to trading up and taking defensive end Jerome McDougle at No. 15 in 2003. Or choosing wide receiver Freddie Mitchell at No. 25 in 2001. Roseman wasn't the GM for either of those drafts, but he was part of the organization. McDougle and Mitchell are the two biggest busts during Andy Reid's tenure as coach.
"We always look at the draft as a long-term decision for our franchise," Roseman said. "If that best player happens to be at a position where someone's already starting but we think this guy has a chance to be a really great player for the Philadelphia Eagles, we're still going to take him because we're trying to take the best player; we're not trying to take the best player at specific position.
"I think that's important."
Maybe that's why there's been some speculation the Eagles will move into the top 10 and take quarterback Ryan Tannehill, even though they have Michael Vick. Despite making just 19 starts under center at Texas A&M, Tannehill is expected to be the third quarterback taken in the draft behind Stanford's Andrew Luck and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
It would be a stunner if he came to Philadelphia.
"We have so much confidence in Michael Vick leading our team," Roseman said. "The way that he works, and the determination he has, we're all in with Michael. Michael is still a young quarterback. He looks great to me. He's healthy and he's determined. We feel very lucky to have him as our franchise quarterback."
Roseman's first two drafts are still being graded.
In 2010, the Eagles traded up to No. 13 to draft defensive end Brandon Graham. He's been limited to just 16 games because of injuries and has three sacks in two seasons. Jason Pierre-Paul went to the New York Giants two picks after Graham. Pierre-Paul had 16 1/2 sacks last season and played a key role in helping the Giants win the Super Bowl.
"We clearly want to come out of this with a player that we feel really good about and get someone who can make a difference," Roseman said. "That's what we're looking for as we go into the draft."