There was an interesting exchange about halfway through Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas' pre-draft media session Thursday morning.
Well after both had already been asked about how teams evaluate draft prospects with character concerns, Douglas was asked about Joe Mixon, taking the off-the-field concerns out of the picture.
Douglas, who doesn't ever seem to be very boisterous, lowered his tone to an almost whisper while talking about the prospect, who once punched a woman in the face.
"A lot of people feel that he is one of the top backs in this draft, so if you take character out of the equation, physically, a very gifted player," Douglas said. "But … most teams aren't doing that."
That's when Roseman, the more seasoned of the two in dealing with the media, interjected with lavish praise for Mixon as a football player.
"Yeah, I think you talk about the things you look for in a three-down back, there's not much he can't do," Roseman said. "He's incredible with the ball in his hands, you can split him out, he's got really good hands, he can pass protect, he can make people miss. He's an extremely talented guy. But everyone we talk about, the total package comes into the equation."
So what does that brief exchange mean?
Well, we hear plenty of talk about "smokescreens" around this time of year and a press conference exactly a week before the start of the draft is a perfect example. It would be foolish to take everything the duo said Thursday on its face. After all, they certainly don't want to telegraph their thoughts to the rest of the league.
But how do we read into this exchange? One point of view is this: Roseman simply wants to continue to the conversation about Mixon's being a possibility for the Eagles. The other: Roseman wants to prepare folks for the possibility of Mixon's becoming an Eagle.
Both thought processes have some merit and, sorry to disappoint, there's no correct answer.
If you believe draft pundits, Mixon, it seems, will be drafted sometime in the second round next Friday. The Eagles hold the 11th pick in the second round (43rd overall).
For what it's worth (not a lot), Roseman was asked directly if Mixon is still on the Eagles' board.
"It doesn't serve us any purpose to talk about particular guys and whether they're on our board or not," he answered.
The Eagles have said over and over that they judge each player on an individual basis. They don't have non-starters for things like domestic abuse that would take a player off their board at the onset. Some teams do. Instead, the Eagles choose to do their own research, getting to know the player and weighing the positives and negatives.
The most obvious example of the Eagles' bringing in a player despite character concerns came in 2009 when the team signed Mike Vick.
"I think Mike, where he was and where we were was unique," Roseman said. "And Mike had a tremendous support system, which is important to all these players we're talking about. Who's their support system? Who are they going to, to ask advice? When you met Mike and you saw how Mike dealt with people, he had an amazing ability to connect with people, not only on the field and off the field. He could tell his story and speak about his story and try to help others. I think that was a lot of the parts that attracted us to Mike, how much together he was and had learned from his past mistakes."
In addition to the situations with the two individuals -- Vick and Mixon -- being very different, there are also several differences between the state of the organization.
Back in 2009, the Eagles had an established head coach in Andy Reid and an established group of leaders, including a quarterback. The team had also made it to a conference championship the year before.
While Roseman praised the leadership of Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz, they're still in their second years and the team is coming off a 7-9 season.
"Each case, you have to judge individually," Roseman said. "You gotta do your research, you gotta go through the whole process. We talked about having an unbelievable security team led by Dom (DiSandro). And so we get all the information and we make the decision."