Eagles GM Howie Roseman was part of one of the more memorable encounters of the 2021 NFL Draft when he shared an awkward fist bump with director of player personnel Tom Donahoe. After the Eagles selected Milton Williams with the 73rd pick in the draft, Roseman made the rounds in the Eagles’ draft room, celebrating the pick with his constituents. However, when he got to Donahoe, the personnel man didn’t appear to be happy, and it created an uncomfortable, tense moment.
As the moment was seen by more and more people, it led them to question whether everything between Roseman and Donahoe was OK. In a recent interview, Roseman cleared the air and dismissed the notion of any problem between him and Donohoe. In fact, he explained exactly why Donahoe may not have been 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’s a three-technique, one is more of a nose tackle. Obviously, when you have different flavors, everyone likes different flavors. So, Carolina calls and they’re picking two picks behind us and Scott Fitterer says, ‘Hey Howie, you wanna drop down two picks for our top of the sixth round pick?’ I said, ‘You gotta tell me, offense or defense?’ He says, ‘I’m taking an offensive player.’
“So we know we’re getting one of these two guys and when we talk to our coaches about their fit and their role, they are excited about these two guys. And so, one of them goes, and we take Milton Williams.”
The one who went ended up being N.C. State defensive tackle Alim McNeill, as the Lions took him with the 72nd selection. One can assume that Donahoe was in the camp that preferred McNeill, so that explains why he may have been upset, as the Eagles had a chance to take him but traded down instead.
That said, Roseman didn’t seem too worried about the relationship between him and Donahoe after the pick. It helped his cause that the team got DT Marlon Tuipulotu with the extra sixth-round pick that it picked up in the trade with the Panthers, as Tuipulotu was seen as a potential Day 2 pick by the team. Plus, he filled the nose tackle need that McNeill would have filled.
One reason that this interaction drew so much attention on social media is that there had been very recent rumors about Roseman being overly controlling in the draft room. They stemmed from a mid-April story from The Athletic detailing the Eagles’ rapid fall from grace after their 2018 Super Bowl win that culminated in the firing of Doug Pederson and the departure of quarterback Carson Wentz after a terrible 4-11-1 season. That piece alleged that the Eagles’ first three picks in the 2020 NFL Draft — WR Jalen Reagor, QB Jalen Hurts and LB Davion Taylor — “mystified some scouts and coaches watching along at home.”
But in this case, it doesn’t appear to be a case of the Eagles’ front office and the coaching staff being on different pages. It’s just about a difference of opinion between two long-time scouts.
And for Roseman, that’s a completely normal thing to see on draft day.
“Discussion and debate and having these conversations, it’s OK. You’d rather have that passion,” Roseman said. “Tom’s been here for a long time. We’ve been together for 10 years, extremely close relationship. It’s OK to have tough conversations, and Tom and I have had a lot of them in 10 years.”