April 09, 2021
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. In fact, as you're all well aware, they already have this year. They traded the No. 6 overall pick in this draft for the No. 12 overall pick, plus a first-round pick in 2022.
Now that they're sitting at pick No. 12, could they move again?
First, we'll recap the last 22 years (since the beginning of the Andy Reid era), showing the Eagles' picks in the first round of the draft, and then we'll determine their best course of action in the 2021 NFL Draft:
Green = Traded up | Blue = Stayed put | Red = Traded back
The tale of the tape:
• Traded up (7 times): Jerome McDougle, Shawn Andrews, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Carson Wentz, and Andre Dillard.
• Traded back (4 times): Kevin Kolb, Trevor Laws, Marcus Smith, and Dallas Goedert.
• Stayed put (10 times): Donovan McNabb, Corey Simon, Freddie Mitchell, Lito Sheppard, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson, Nelson Agholor, and Derrick Barnett.
The best players are probably still from the "trade up" group.
The following is a list of trades made either at the 11th, 12th, or 13th overall pick, just for purpose of providing a historical sense of what it might cost to move up, or what can be gained by moving back. Trades involving players omitted.
• 2020: San Francisco traded first- and seventh-round selections (13th and 245th) to Tampa Bay in exchange for first- and fourth-round selections (14th and 117th).
• 2018: Tampa Bay traded first- and seventh-round selections (7th and 255th) to Buffalo in exchange for Buffalo's first-round selection (12th) and two second-round selections (53rd and 56th).
• 2017: Cleveland traded a first-round selection (12th) to Houston in exchange for Houston's first-round selection (25th) as well as a first-round selection in 2018.
• 2016: Tampa Bay traded its first-round selection (9th) to Chicago in exchange for Chicago's first- and fourth-round selections (11th and 106th).
• 2013: Oakland traded its first-round selection (3rd) to Miami in exchange for Miami's 2013 first-round selection (12th) and second-round selection (42nd).
• 2012: Seattle traded its first-round selections (12th) to Philadelphia for their first (15th), fourth (114th), and sixth round (172nd) selections.
When the Eagles still owned the No. 6 pick, drafting a quarterback was seemingly still in play, and there was a report (since deleted) that the Eagles unsuccessfully attempted to move up for BYU's Zach Wilson. Now that they have moved out of the No. 6 pick, a quarterback is seemingly no longer in play.
If the Eagles couldn't land their quarterback, then trading back was a logical move, in my opinion, especially in this particular draft, where the talent level between the non-quarterback you might land at pick No. 6 isn't that much different than who you might land at pick No. 12. Or perhaps better stated, it's not so different that you'd turn down an extra first-round pick in 2022 to make that move.
However, the feeling here is that there is potentially a more substantial dropoff from who the Eagles might land at pick No. 12 and who they would have to settle for later in the teens.
If a quarterback like Mac Jones were to still be available at pick No. 12, and a quarterback-needy team like, saaayyy, the New England Patriots or the Chicago Bears came calling, and the offer was too good to pass up, then sure, the Eagles would be smart to consider all options.
Another opportunity to siphon off an extra pick would be to deal with the Chargers at pick No. 13. The Chargers desperately need a LT, so if Sewell and another player of interest to the Eagles were both on the board, the Eagles could perhaps coax something like a third- or fourth-round pick out of the Chargers so they can be certain they get their guy, while the Eagles still land a player they can be happy about at pick No. 13.
First, let's try to figure out what positional players are worth taking if you're the Eagles at pick No. 12. In my view, the following players, in no particular order, would range anywhere from "Yes please!" to "golf clap."
• All of the top three receivers: LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, or Alabama's DeVonta Smith.
• Either of the top two cornerbacks: Alabama's Patrick Surtain or South Carolina's Jaycee Horn.
• Florida TE Kyle Pitts.
• Oregon OT Penei Sewell.
Those seven players would represent good value at pick No. 12. Beyond those seven players, arguments could be made for the following:
• Michigan DE Kwity Paye, or (fill in your preferred edge rusher here): Position of need, and a position of priority, but is Paye (or another edge rusher in this draft) worth the 12th pick?
• Northwestern OT/OG Rashawn Slater and USC OT/OG Alijah Vera-Tucker: Both Slater and Vera-Tucker were standout tackles in college, but most believe their futures in the NFL are at guard. The Eagles' roster, as currently constructed, does not offer any starting opportunities at guard, so either of these guys would sit as rookies, or the Eagles would have to find a way to deal Brandon Brooks for adequate compensation. (It's at least mildly interesting that "trade interest" in Brooks was either leaked or conjured up a short while back.)
Anyway, getting back on track, the initial seven prospects listed above would be ideal. The last three, less so. So what are the chances of one of those seven ideal guys falling to pick No. 12?
Well, three quarterbacks are almost certainly coming off the board at picks 1, 2, and 3, to the Jaguars (Trevor Lawrence), Jets (Wilson), and 49ers (Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Jones).
The Eagles would need for (a) at least one more quarterback to come off the board before their pick, which feels very likely, and (b) they would need one team to take a fifth QB, Slater, Vera-Tucker, Penn State LB Micah Parsons, any edge rusher, or some other weird pick, for any one of the sexy seven to fall to them. Again, in my view, that feels likely, with Slater or the fifth QB being the best possibilities.
It's hard to find many logical reasons for the Eagles to trade up. If they really like either of the corners (Surtain, Horn), then wanting to move ahead of the Broncos at 9 and the Cowboys at 10 would make some sense. The Panthers at 8 probably wouldn't mind moving back to recoup some picks after trading three of them for Sam Darnold.
Barring an offer they can't refuse, the Eagles would probably be best served to stay put at pick 12.
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