Howie Roseman of the Eagles explains how the price cut fueled the awkward draft-day encounter with Tom Donahoe
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was part of one of the most memorable encounters in the 2021 NFL Draft when he shared a clumsy punch with Director of Player Personnel Tom Donahoe. After the Eagles selected Milton Williams with the 73rd draft pick, Roseman toured the Eagles draft hall, celebrating the pick with his constituents. However, when he got to Donahoe, the staff man didn’t seem happy, and it created an uncomfortable and tense moment.
As the moment was seen by more and more people, it made them wonder if all was well between Roseman and Donahoe. In a recent interview, Roseman clarified the situation and dismissed the notion of a problem between him and Donohoe. In fact, he explained exactly why Donahoe might not be as happy as some of the others who were in the room when the team selected Milton Williams.
“When we’re at pick 71, we have two guys standing on our board. Two defensive linemen,” Roseman said in an interview on 94WIP. “And they’re different flavors. One is a three way technique, the other is more of a tackle on the nose. Obviously when you have different flavors everyone likes different flavors. So Carolina calls. and they pick two picks behind us and Scott Fitterer says, ‘Hey Howie, do you want to drop two picks for our first sixth round pick?’ I said, ‘Do you have to tell me, offense or defense?’ He says: “I take an offensive player”.
“So we know we have one of these two guys and when we talk to our coaches about their form and their role, they’re excited about these two guys. And so one of them leaves, and we let’s take Milton Williams. “
Whoever went ended up being NC State defensive tackle Alim McNeill, as the Lions took him with the 72nd selection. Presumably Donahoe was in the camp that preferred McNeill, which is why he may have been upset as the Eagles had a chance to take him but instead traded.
That said, Roseman didn’t seem too worried about the relationship between him and Donahoe after the pick. It helped her cause that the team got DT Marlon Tuipulotu with the extra sixth round pick they picked up in the trade with the Panthers, as Tuipulotu was seen as a potential Day 2 pick by the team. Plus, he fulfilled the need for a nose tackle that McNeill would have filled.
One of the reasons this interaction has garnered so much attention on social media is that there had been very recent rumors that Roseman was excessively in control of the draft hall. They are from a story in mid-April of Athletic detailing the Eagles’ rapid downfall after their 2018 Super Bowl victory that culminated in the sacking of Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz leaving after a terrible 4-11-1 season. This article alleged that the Eagles’ top three picks in the 2020 NFL Draft – WR Jalen Reagor, QB Jalen Hurts and LB Davion Taylor – “mystified some scouts and coaches watching at home.”
But in this case, it doesn’t seem like a case where the Eagles front office and the coaching staff are on different pages. It’s just a difference of opinion between two longtime Boy Scouts.
And for Roseman, that’s a completely normal thing to see on draft day.
“Discussion and debate and having these conversations is OK. You’d rather have that passion,” Roseman said. “Tom has been here for a long time. We’ve been together for 10 years, an extremely close relationship. It’s normal to have difficult conversations, and Tom and I have had a lot of them in 10 years.”