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February 26, 2018

Eagles 2018 draft: Trade up, trade back, or stay put?

Eagles NFL
022618DerekBarnett Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles rookie defensive end Derek Barnett.

Heading into any draft, there are always arguments to be made about trying to trade up for a better prospect, trading back and acquiring more draft picks, or just staying put at your spot and picking a player.

The Philadelphia Eagles tend to move around in the first round more than most. Here we'll recap the last 18 years (since the beginning of the Andy Reid era), showing the Eagles' moves in the first round of the draft, and then we'll determine their best course of action in the 2018 NFL Draft:

Green = Traded up | Blue = Stayed put | Red = Traded back

 YearPlayer drafted Traded up, traded back, or stayed put 
 2017Derek Barnett Stayed put 
 2016Carson Wentz Traded up 
 2015Nelson Agholor Stayed put 
 2014Marcus Smith Traded back 
 2013Lane Johnson Stayed put 
 2012Fletcher Cox Traded up 
 2011Danny Watkins Stayed put 
 2010Brandon Graham Traded up 
 2009Jeremy Maclin Traded up 
 2008(Nobody in first round) - Trevor Laws first pick in 2nd round Traded back 
 2007(Nobody in first round) - Kevin Kolb first pick in 2nd roundTraded back 
 2006Brodrick Bunkley Stayed put 
 2005Mike Patterson Stayed put 
 2004Shawn Andrews Traded up 
 2003Jerome McDougle Traded up 
 2002Lito Sheppard Stayed put 
 2001Freddie Mitchell Stayed put 
 2000Corey Simon Stayed put 
 1999Donovan McNabb Stayed put 


The tale of the tape:

• Traded up (6 times): Jerome McDougle, Shawn Andrews, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Carson Wentz.

  1. McDougle: The only bust of the trade up group, largely because he got shot.
  2. Andrews: Stud RG for a few years, then he got his Michael Phelps on.
  3. Maclin: Developed into a very good starting receiver, had 1300+ receiving yards the year before bolted for Kansas City in free agency.
  4. Graham: Highly criticized pick for years, but Graham is now one of the best players on the team, and a Super Bowl hero.
  5. Cox: Star DT.
  6. Wentz: NFL MVP until he tore his ACL.

• Traded back (3 times): Kevin Kolb, Trevor Laws, and Marcus Smith.

  1. Kolb: In his first game as "the guy," he was pummeled by Clay Matthews and lost his starting job to Michael Vick before being dealt to Arizona. The Eagles selected Kolb, Stewart Bradley, and C.J. Gaddis with the picks acquired from Dallas in that trade.
  2. Laws: 45 career tackles and five sacks in an underwhelming career. However, this trade netted Laws, Mike McGlynn, Quintin Demps, and Carolina's first-round pick in 2009, which the Eagles then traded along with a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick for Jason Peters. I'd say that trade worked out.
  3. Smith: By moving back four spots and selecting Smith, who is already a bust, the Eagles also drafted Jaylen Watkins and Taylor Hart.

• Stayed put (10 times): Donovan McNabb, Corey Simon, Freddie Mitchell, Lito Sheppard, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson, and Nelson Agholor.

  1. McNabb: Franchise QB for more than a decade.
  2. Simon: Impact player early in his career, declined rapidly at around 27.
  3. Mitchell: Made one huge play, talked like he was an All-Pro.
  4. Sheppard: Quality starting corner for years, although like Simon, he too declined rapidly at around 26.
  5. Patterson: Meat and potatoes guy on the interior of the defensive line. Decent career for a late 1.
  6. Bunkley: Imposing interior defender, did not live up to vast potential.
  7. Watkins: This was the stupidest pick the Eagles made over the last 20 years. He was freaking 26!
  8. Johnson: Great pick in a weak draft class.
  9. Agholor: Bust for two years who broke out in year three with the team.
  10. Barnett: Looks like a long-time NFL starter who made a difference in his rookie season.

By far, the best players are from the "trade up" group, and it's not even close.

So what will the Eagles do this year?

A season ago, the Eagles were sitting at pick No. 14, where they felt confident that they were going to get a very good player. 

"When we look back and we look at our drafts, specifically looking at where we were in the 20's, we've had some good success at 20 and higher," said Howie Roseman, speaking at the 2017 Senior Bowl. "I think there is a line where you don't get a difference maker. This is your opportunity, in the first round of the draft, to find a difference-making player. That's our first priority, is bringing in a difference maker to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

"By trading back and getting extra picks, but not having somebody who can affect the game... I mean, you're watching these championship games, and you're seeing that there are difference makers making big plays in these games, so we need to make sure that we come out of (the draft) with that."

In order for the Eagles to get into a spot on draft day where they think the "difference makers" can be had, they would have to trade up into the teens. Unfortunately for them, the Eagles don't have the ammo to do that, at least in terms of draft picks, seeing as they have no picks in rounds 2 or 3.

In order to move up into that philosophical "20-or-better" range, the only real ammo the Eagles have, without parting with a future No. 1 pick, would be Nick Foles. The Arizona Cardinals would make some level of sense in a trade for Foles, as they sit at pick No. 15. The thinking here is that it would take Foles, plus some extra ammo, to coax that 15th overall pick away. The Buffalo Bills also have a pair of picks just on the outskirts of the top 20, as they sit at picks No. 21 and 22.

Beyond a trade of Foles prior to the draft, moving up into Roseman's preferred draft territory feels unlikely.

As for staying put or moving back, there's a thinking that there isn't much of a difference between picking at 32nd overall (obviously an amazing problem to have) and a few spots later. Every year, teams trade up into those spots at the end of the first round or the beginning of the second round.

Here's a recent look back at teams selecting near the 32nd overall pick who traded back for additional picks:

2017

• Green Bay traded their first-round selection (29th) to Cleveland in exchange for Cleveland's second- and fourth-round selections (33rd and 108th).

• Seattle traded a first-round selection (31st) to San Francisco in exchange for San Francisco's second- and fourth-round selections (34th and 111th).

• Seattle traded a second-round selection (34th) to Jacksonville in exchange for Jacksonville's second- and sixth-round selections (35th and 187th).

• Chicago traded their second- and seventh-round selections (36th and 221st) to Arizona in exchange for Arizona's second-, fourth-, and sixth-round selections (45th, 119th, and 197th) as well as a fourth-round selection in 2018.

2016

• Kansas City traded its first-round selection (28th) and seventh-round selection (249th) to San Francisco in exchange for San Francisco's second-, fourth-, and sixth-round selections (37th, 105th, and 178th).

2015

• Tennessee traded its second-round selection (33rd) to the Giants in exchange for New York's 2015 second-, fourth- and seventh-round selections (40th, 108th and 245th).

2014

• Seattle traded its first-round selection (32nd) to Minnesota in exchange for Minnesota's second- and fourth-round selections (40th and 108th).

• Washington traded its second-round selection (34th) to Dallas in exchange for Dallas' second- and third-round selections (47th and 78th).

2013

• New England traded their first-round selection (29th) to Minnesota in exchange for Minnesota's 2013 second-, third-, fourth-, and seventh-round selections (52nd, 83rd, 102nd, and 229th).

Because the Eagles are already so tight up against the salary cap with a Carson Wentz mega-contract extension looming in the semi-near future, the Eagles can use all the inexpensive players they can get. You obtain those guys in the draft, so this may be a reasonable year for the Birds to trade back and acquire some extra picks.

Then again, if there's a player sitting there at 32 that the team loves, as always, they should probably just take him.


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