PHILADELPHIA - When it comes to examining players for the upcoming NFL draft, the Eagles' scouting and coaching staffs are just as concerned with a player's character as they are with his speed, strength and intelligence.
The Eagles not only have been conducting interviews with the top prospects over the last few weeks, they have also been paying attention to social media to get a sense of their personalties and attitudes.
"We have someone looking over their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Monday during an interview at the NovaCare Complex. "It's important for us to get a sense of a players's mindset and what they're thinking about, especially here. (Philadelphia) is a big media market and we want to make sure the players we pick are the right fit for us both on and off the field."
The Eagles own nine selections in the draft, which will be held April 25-27, including the No. 4 overall pick. They will be choosing in the top five for the first time since 1999, when then-rookie coach Andy Reid drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb at No. 2.
At least a half-dozen players have been mentioned as possibilities for the Eagles in various mock drafts. Offensive linemen Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) top the list of contenders, along with outside linebacker Dion Jordan (Oregon), defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Utah), cornerback Dee Milliner (Alabama) and quarterback Geno Smith (West Virginia).
Fisher (Big_Fish79), Jordan (Dionj96), Milliner (Dmilli28) and Smith (GenoSmith_12) are among those with Twitter accounts. Their recent tweets all revolved around their offseason workouts and excitement about the draft.
"Counting down from 10 like it's New Year's Eve!" Fisher tweeted Monday morning. "It's all coming together."
At least a dozen current Eagles are on Twitter, including veterans such as defensive end Trent Cole (Pro_Hunt58), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (deseanjackson10), running back LeSean McCoy (CutonDime25) and quarterback Michael Vick (MikeVick). McCoy did not post anything for about three weeks after getting into a bitter Twitter feud with the mother of his infant son in January.
"In some instances, you're talking about 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds and they are going to make mistakes at that age," Roseman said. "When we see people have said questionable things on Twitter or Facebook, we talk to them and make sure there aren't other questionable things we have to be concerned about.
"When it comes to the draft and free agency, we really just want to get to know them because character is so important. By the same token, we want to make sure we're not making a mistake by putting a red flag on someone and taking someone off of our draft board."
Besides the visits to the combine in Indianapolis and the various Pro Day workouts at colleges, the Eagles also brought in at least 15 draft-eligible players to the NovaCare Complex for interviews and conducted private workouts for others at various locales.
That enabled them to get a better handle on players away from the craziness of the combine and the staged settings of the Pro Days.
"When you go see them at their colleges, they're in their comfort zone," Roseman said. "Bringing players here gives us a chance to sit down and talk to them in a different atmosphere."
The Eagles expressed a lot of interest in Smith, who is regarded in some circles as the top-rated quarterback in a draft class that also includes USC's Matt Barkley, Florida State's E.J. Manuel and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, among others.
Pro Football Weekly gave Smith a scathing review, comparing him to former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Akili Smith (no relation), who was taken one pick after McNabb in 1999. Akili Smith never came close to living up to expectations and was released in 2002.
"Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system," Pro Football Weekly wrote in its draft guide. "(He is) lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room."
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Roseman said. "The most important question we ask ourselves going into a draft is what is going to happen three years from now? What kind of player to do we think this player is going to be (in the future). That's even more important for us this year. When you're picking fourth, we have to be confident in that player."
Extra points: The Eagles released quarterback Trent Edwards later Monday, leaving them with four quarterbacks on the roster: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne. Edwards played in just one game for the Eagles last season, completing both of his pass attempts for 14 yards in a 42-7 loss to the New York Giants in Reid's final game with the team on Dec. 31. Edwards primarily served as a mentor for Foles.
Jordan is considered one of the top possibilities for the Eagles because of his ties to new coach Chip Kelly at Oregon. ... Roseman also mentioned Florida defensive lineman Shariff Floyd, who is a Philadelphia native. ... Roseman said that the Eagles' medical staff has cleared Lotulelei, who drew some concerns at the combine because of a heart-related issue. ... The Eagles begin a three-day minicamp for current players today at the NovaCare Complex. ... The NFL regular-season schedule for 2013 will not be released today, despite previous reports by the league.
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