Howie Roseman leaves no stone unturned. He enters every offseason with a keen-eye and probably runs up a phone bill long enough to be the second leading rusher on the Eagles.
The most casual attention paid to the Eagles’ transactions will display Howie’s ability to wheel-and-deal. The 2016 NFL Draft was perhaps Howie Roseman’s magnum opus. This is where he traded up to the second pick and acquired Carson Wentz. Last April, Howie Roseman turned the 32nd overall pick (they picked 32nd because they won the Super Bowl) and a fourth rounder into two second rounders (2018 and 2019) and a fourth round selection.
The Eagles current first round draft slot, No.25, has the potential to hold abnormal value. An early run on quarterbacks could give way to defensive linemen falling further than they normally would. Four quarterbacks going before the Eagles pick could lead to Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, or maybe even Montez Sweat falling to pick 25. Wide receivers are another position group that could shift the deck in favor of the Eagles.
But what if the tide turns against the Eagles and sitting at No. 25 is no longer worth it? The Eagles would have a much easier time moving back rather than up, but both options need to be examined in anticipation of an unpredictable first round.
I think there are four players at positions of need for the Eagles that are of top 15-ish value that could fall close enough to the Eagles trade-up range. Ed Oliver, Devin Bush Jr., Cody Ford, and Jonah Williams. If any of them somehow made it to 25, the Eagles (and myself) would be ecstatic.
It’s mind-blowing to me how much talk there is of Ed Oliver not being a top-ten pick. He’s a 285 pound freak of nature that was rarely blocked one-on-one and has the potential to become one of the game’s elite defensive linemen. The biggest knock draft writers seem to have on him is his size. Oliver may be in the 280s in weight, but he doesn’t have the typical mass of a 4-3 defensive tackle. On top of that, he’s not especially long and 6’2″. Size concerns ultimately feel like nitpicking. If, by the grace of God, Ed Oliver became an Eagle, the defensive line in Philadelphia would concretely be one of the four or five best position groups in football.
Devin Bush Jr. would be a welcomed addition to an Eagles defense. The departure of Jordan Hicks has left room for improvement at linebacker. As I have previously written, the Eagles need more impact from their linebackers. The defensive line will always be the lynchpin of Jim Schwartz’s defense, but the Eagles need a playmaking boost from the rest of the front-seven. Bush Jr. could start for the Eagles immediately, whether it would be inside or outside. He has the tools both mentally and physically to become an excellent NFL defender. I think out of all the names listed, Devin Bush Jr. would be of the least interest to the Eagles.
Jonah Williams and Cody Ford are both high upside talents that could be key contributors for the offensive line as soon as they strap their helmets on. Both are physically capable of playing guard and tackle at the next level. Williams was the top lineman on an Alabama frontline that annually faced some of the best defenses in the nation. He’s an All-American tackle that led a monster rushing attack and played well into the CFB playoffs. Cody Ford is another stout lineman that was a driving force behind a prolific offense. Ford made Heisman winner Kyler Murray more-than-comfortable in the pocket. He would fit like a glove in the Eagles offense. Ford has clean footwork and a gnarly demeanor. Cody Ford buries people. Jonah Williams and Cody Ford being anywhere near the Eagles should have their war room buzzing.
The Eagles go-to trade pieces are their second round picks. No. 25 plus either No. 53 or No. 57 could possibly move them up to at least No. 20.
According to Pro-Football-Reference’s Draft Pick Trade Value Chart, the 25th pick holds a value of 720 points. Each of the second round picks are worth over 300 points. In theory, the Eagles could combine two picks to move up into the range of 15-19 (point ranges of 875-1050). Just because numbers add up doesn’t mean people will be willing to move back. The Eagles’ lack of a third round pick could factor into their ability to move up. The Eagles last second round pick is No. 57; their next pick doesn’t come until No. 127. Furthering the gap between their selections may not be practical.
If the Eagles decide to move players, two names come to mind; Nelson Agholor and Rasul Douglas. Both players are on affordable deals that expire within two seasons. Nelson Agholor has proven production, but the Eagles reportedly examined moving him or reworking his deal. They’ve publicly said he’ll be on the team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if teams came calling for Nelly on draft weekend.
Rasul Douglas has five career interceptions. He’s also racked up 83 tackles in two seasons. Douglas has always seemed to be out of favor with the coaching staff. You could argue the cornerback play improved once Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby went down, and Douglas was definitely a component in the cornerback play not falling off a cliff. I would not be surprised to see the 23-year old’s name pop up in trade talks.
I would guess the chances of the Eagles moving back is more likely than moving up.
In a scenario where the Eagles’ top targets at d-line, o-line, or safety are off the board, I could see them moving back in the first or out of the round entirely. They Eagles’ absence of a third round pick could be a motivator for trading back.
There are three position groups that could dictate the Eagles’ ability to move back in the draft; quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end.
Three quarterbacks are nearly guaranteed to be off the board before No.25; Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock. Two quarterbacks that could become targets in the late-first are Daniel Jones and Will Grier.
The only receiver that should be permanently inked to go before the Eagles is super-human DK Metcalf. Hakeem Butler, N’Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, and Marquise Brown are all wideouts that could be deemed top-32 talents.
The tight end class is headlined by TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant. The Iowa teammates are far and away better than the rest of their positional class. Both players are top-20 talents, but projecting their draft slots is difficult. An early run on quarterbacks and defensive lineman could have either one, if not both, of the stellar tight ends fall farther than they should. If either Fant or Hockenson gets to No. 25 the Eagles’ phone-lines will be very busy.
Three teams that pick behind the Eagles have the draft capital/motive to trade up with the Birds (assuming they would want to stay in the first round); Kansas City, New England, and the Green Bay Packers.
The Chiefs, like the Eagles, are in need of bolstering their defense. There isn’t a position on defense that should be off limits. If the Chiefs don’t want to wait until No. 29 to find their defensive playmaker or Josh Jacobs, they have the ammunition to move up several spots. In addition to their first round pick, KC has two second rounders and a third. If the Eagles felt comfortable sliding back and wanted to fill their third-round void, the Chiefs could be an ideal trade partner.
Wheeling and dealing on draft day isn’t New England’s M.O., but they have the ability and authority to influence the early rounds of the draft. In addition to the 32nd pick, the Pats have two second round picks, three (!) third rounders, and a fourth round pick. The sleeveless general manager and massage-enthusiast owner of the Patriots will have plenty of options during the first two days of the draft. If New England’s top target falls and is available with the 25th overall pick, the Eagles could be justly compensated.
Green Bay has the 12th and 30th picks in the first round. If a sought after pass-catcher falls to No. 25, the Packers could be inclined to move up. The Packers have the 12th pick in the second round, plus a third rounder and two fourth round selections.
The Eagles’ draft priorities should be maintaining the effectiveness of the defensive line, fixing the backend of the secondary, adding offensive line insurance, and finding another running back. If the Eagles found a trade-back partner that allowed them to stay in the first round while landing a pick in rounds 2-4, they could knock out their needs and remain in contention with their first four or five draft picks.