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January 23, 2017

Will the Eagles draft for need or take the best player available?

Eagles NFL

The Super Bowl is still almost two weeks away, but for 30 of the NFL's 32 teams, it's time to start looking forward to the 2017 season. The Senior Bowl is this week. The combine will be here before you know it. And the NFL Draft, well, that's just over three months away.

We already know that Philadelphia Eagles VP of Player Personnel Joe Douglas will set the team's draft board. What we don't know just yet is how that board will look and what types of players he'll prefer. We also don't know (and may never for sure) just how much influence other members of the organization not named Howie Roseman will have in what he called "an inclusive process."

Does that mean Doug Pederson? Jim Schwartz? Carson Wentz? Jeffrey Lurie? Swoop?

On Monday, Roseman and Douglas joined Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show to attempt to answer some of these questions as best he could -- you know, without giving away any actual information about whom the team intends to draft on April 27.

But they did give some indication as to their overall draft strategy/philosophy.

“We’re not going to pass up a potential Hall Of Famer player, or a Pro Bowl player,” Douglas said. “At the end of the day we’re going to take the best available player.”

That alone would suggest that the Eagles aren't thinking short-term when it comes to the Eagles rebuild. Typically, you take the best player available when you feel nearly every position could use an upgrade. Drafting for need makes more sense when you're a team that's close to being a Super Bowl contender and upgrading a specific position could be the difference-maker.

And with Douglas now in charge of his first draft with the Birds, Roseman sees him playing a very important role in the war room.

“His assignment is to make sure we don’t make the mistakes we’ve made in the past,” Roseman said.

This year, however, those mistakes could be somewhat limited because, as it turns out, the Eagles biggest areas of need -- cornerback and running back -- also happen to be two of the strongest in the class.

“I think when we look back at last year, when we looked at the strength of the draft, it was unusually strong in the offensive line,” Roseman continued. “So we went — obviously we didn’t have as many picks with the trade for Carson and the trade the year before — but we were able to get two offensive lineman in the third [Isaac Seumalo] and fifth rounds [Halapoulivaati Vaitai]. 

"And that was really a priority of ours. We did the same thing in free agency, adding Wiz [Stefen Wisniewski] and Brandon Brooks. As you look at it, there’s always positions of strength in the draft. Beautiful thing is when they match up with kind of what your needs are.”

RELATED: Roseman: Rowe wasn't traded because he was a 'Chip guy'

While the draft will be held in Philadelphia, the Eagles are one of the few teams still unsure of exactly where they'll be picking. Because of a tie in the standings, a coin toss will determine weather or not the Birds pick 14th or 15th.

"I hope we get 14th," Roseman said. "But in all the scenarios we've done so far in the top 15, we're smiling when it comes to our pick.''

There's a decent chance, however, that the Eagles won't be looking to upgrade Wentz's weapons in the first round of the draft, despite the fact that most mock drafts have them taking a wide receiver or running back in the first round. [A month earlier, nearly every one had them taking a cornerback or safety, FWIW.]

According to Roseman, those upgrades will be done "probably more in free agency than the draft." He also wants to make sure the young QB is on board with said upgrades.

"The way the league rules are, you'd love to have him [Wentz] come down [to workouts] and throw to these guys, but it just doesn't work that way," he said. "From our perspective, we want to make sure he's on board with some of these things."

So when it comes to the NFL Draft, they'll likely stick to their "best player available" strategy.

Listen to the full interview:

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin