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April 12, 2023

The Eagles' top 10 options with the 10th overall pick

Eagles NFL
041223WillAnderson Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

Will Anderson would be a dream scenario for the Eagles, though unrealistic.

Each year, we lay out the Philadelphia Eagles' top 10 options with their first round pick, and we have found that while the player they have picked has occasionally been surprising, their base strategies have been somewhat predictable.

For example:

• In 2022, we were right about the team likely trading up for a defensive lineman (option No. 1), but it was for a defensive tackle instead of an edge rusher. We specifically singled out Jordan Davis (option No. 5). We also had wide receiver as option No. 3, and they did indeed get one with one of their first-round picks, though it was a trade for A.J. Brown instead of just drafting a rookie prospect.

• In 2021, we had the Eagles drafting a wide receiver (option No. 2), with DeVonta Smith as the most likely Eagles pick, but were off on the notion that one of the top three guys (Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Smith) would make it to pick 12 (stick-and-pick was option 1). Kudos to Howie Roseman for reading that better than me.

• In 2020, it felt rather clear that the Eagles were going to pick a wide receiver, and they did, though obviously the wrong one.

• In 2019, we correctly diagnosed that the Eagles were likely to trade up (option No. 1). They picked who they thought would be Jason Peters' successor (option No. 8).

• In 2018, it felt like a year to trade out of the first round (option No. 1), and that's what they did, eventually picking a tight end (option No. 7).

• In 2017, we were a little more specific, and had the Eagles staying put and drafting Derek Barnett as option No. 3.

Now that we've taken that little trip down memory lane, let's look at the Eagles' top 10 options in 2023. We'll focus specifically on the 10th overall pick.

10) Bijan 🫤

Every year, there’s some running back, linebacker, or safety prospect that wins the hearts of Eagles fans, and every year, without fail, the team does not select that player because… (clears throat)… THEY DON’T VALUE THOSE POSITIONS.

This year that prospect is Texas RB Bijan Robinson, who most believe is the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. Some think that he’s actually an even better prospect than Barkley. Personally, I think that’s nuts, as Barkley was more productive in college and was a superior athletic specimen. But whatever.

The Eagles are correct not to value the running back position. As we laid out in depth on Monday, selecting Robinson with the 10th overall pick might be a lot of fun, but it would also be a bad use of resources, mostly because running backs have extremely short NFL shelf lives.

The Eagles believe that they have found their long-term answer at quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who is still only 24 years of age. They can be Super Bowl contenders for the next decade-plus, as long as Hurts continues to be anything close to what he was in 2022. Given his extreme work ethic, that’s a pretty good bet. The Eagles are far more likely to try to find a player with their top 10 pick who can be a foundational piece for the duration of Hurts’ career, not just for the next five or so years.

9) A wide receiver 🙅‍♂️

The main argument for drafting Robinson is that the Eagles can build some sort of unstoppable super offense. If that’s the goal, I believe that there is just as good an argument for selecting a wide receiver to complement A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. The consensus best receiver in the draft is Ohio State’ Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a slick separation-creating slot receiver who outproduced Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at Ohio State in 2021.

OSU WRs 2021 Rec Yards YPC TD 
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 95 1606 16.9 
Garrett Wilson 70 1058 15.1 12 
Chris Olave 65 936 14.4 13 

Wilson won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2022 with the Jets, and Olave placed in the top 5 for the Saints.

Quez Watkins remains the Eagles current No. 3 receiver after a bad 2022 season, and they have almost no depth at the position otherwise. Smith-Njigba would give Hurts and the Eagles yet another skilled pass catcher while also providing some insurance for Brown and Smith, and he'll likely be available at 10.

A good argument against drafting a wide receiver, as made by Brandon Gowton in our podcast episode at the bottom of this article, is that adding high volume slot receiver would make it more difficult to appease Brown's and Smith's hunger for targets. A low-volume big play guy (basically what Watkins was supposed to be in 2022) probably makes more sense.

8) Trade the pick for a veteran player 🤝

During the 2022 NFL Draft, Roseman struck a deal with the Tennessee Titans, landing star wide receiver A.J. Brown in exchange for the 18th and 101st overall picks. They also finalized a deal with Brown himself, as the two sides agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $100 million.

As we witnessed in March, the cap-strapped Eagles lost seven starters in free agency, and they still have to hammer out a contract extension for Hurts. While they may have the draft capital to trade for a stud veteran player, they have limited salary cap resources to make that kind of splash this year.

7) Defensive tackle 👎

Defensive tackle is a position that the Eagles heavily prioritize, and it also happens to be a need. However, the only one worth selecting at 10 is the heavily scrutinized Jalen Carter, who we'll get to momentarily.

Carter is unlikely to be available at pick No. 10, and there aren’t any other defensive tackles worth that pick otherwise.

6) Settle on a guard 🥱

Peter Skoronski is a player commonly being projected to the Eagles at pick No. 10. He played left tackle at Northwestern, but because of a lack of ideal length (he’s 6’4 with 32” arms), a move to guard feels inevitable at the next level.

The reasoning behind his projection to the Eagles is simple. He’s thought of as a Day 1 plug-and-play starter who could fill in at RG for the departed Isaac Seumalo and just stay there for the next decade, with some versatility to play offensive tackle in a pinch. Cam Jurgens then becomes the first guy off the bench at guard or center, with Jack Driscoll playing a swing tackle role. And bada bing bada boom, the Eagles fortify what is already the best offensive line in the NFL both along the starting five and beyond.

That would be a questionable use of resources with the 10th overall pick, in a different way than it is for running back. At running back, the biggest worry is a lack of longevity. At guard, how much impact are you getting out of the player? Like, how many more games over the next 10 years are you going to win because you drafted a guard?

5) Cornerback to eventually replace Darius Slay 🪑

After the Eagles locked up James Bradberry on a three-year contract and were able to negotiate a re-worked deal with Darius Slay, cornerback became less of a pressing issue for the Eagles to address.

Still, Slay is 32 and Bradberry will turn 30 in August, so the Eagles could use another cornerback both for depth and to groom as a future starter.

The consensus No. 1 corner in the draft is Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, a 6’1 3/8” outside corner who ran a 4.38 and vertical jumped 41 ½” at the Combine. He likely won’t make it to pick 10.

The other corner who has been mocked to the Eagles is Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, who is one of my favorite prospects in this draft for his toughness and tenacity, but who is only 181 pounds, and who reportedly “only” ran a 4.43 as his pro day. Those aren’t the physical/athletic traits typically associated with top 10 corners.

4) Offensive tackle 😱

A week ago, I put on my “what would Howie think” hat, and ranked offensive tackle as the Eagles’ No. 1 draft need, narrowly edging out defensive tackle and edge rusher. That was a semi-controversial take, but be certain that they're going to draft an offensive lineman. It's just a matter of when (probably early).

The reality is that the Eagles lack offensive line depth and they have two starting spots to fill in the near future. Quarterback aside, they value their offensive line above all else, and they build it specifically through the draft. They have also proven repeatedly that they like to be proactive — sometimes to an extreme degree — in having succession plans in place along their offensive line so they’re not caught with their pants down.

The two players who I believe offer short-term value either as starters at guard or guard/tackle depth while also being groomed to take over for Lane Johnson at RT in a couple years are Georgia’s Broderick Jones and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson.

The question is, would they be reaches at pick No. 10? If you think they can protect Hurts’ right side for the next decade, does it matter if you take them at 10 or with a trade back to, like, 12?

3) Edge rusher 💪

At (or near) pick 10, there are more palatable edge rusher options than there are defensive tackles or offensive linemen, as there could be as many as four edge rushers who get picked in the top 10. They are Alabama’s Will Anderson, Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson, Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness, and Georgia’s Nolan Smith.

Personally, I don’t understand why Van Ness is being thought of as a top 10 pick. He tested well at the Combine and he has some highlight reel bull rushes, but he has no pass repertoire whatsoever and is arguably just a developmental player. But if you read any mock draft, there he is, somewhere in the 6-15 range. 🤷‍♂️

Smith is undersized, but an athletic freak of nature. His upside is through the roof, and unlike Van Ness he should also be an immediate contributor, even if he lacked eye-popping production at Georgia in a loaded defense.

Wilson is an interesting possibility. Like Smith, he lacked eye-popping production in college, but he's a height-weight-speed phenom at 6'6, 271, and there's a chance he could fall to 10 if, say, four quarterbacks go in the top 9.

And finally, there's Anderson...

2) Trade up for one of the two elite defensive linemen prospects 🆙

One trade-up option would be Anderson, who far out-produced all of the edge rushers in the section above, collecting 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for loss in three seasons at Alabama. Anderson is likely to go top 5, unless he gets pushed back because of an early run on quarterbacks. He would be an interesting trade-up possibility for the Eagles if he got to within striking distance.

The other is Jalen Carter, who many believe is the No. 1 prospect in this draft, but who has had a rocky draft process that you can catch up on here.

Let's throw out an Eagles trade-up scenario. Some team trades up to No. 3 with the Cardinals (for the sake of argument let's say it's the Titans), and quarterbacks come off the board 1-2-3 with the first three picks to the Panthers, Texans, and Titans. The Colts are left sitting at pick No. 4 and they don't love the remaining available quarterback. Would you trade 10 and 30 to move up to 4 ahead of the Seahawks (5th pick) and Lions (6th pick) and have your pick of Anderson or Carter?

On Tuesday, we reminded you of the 2014 draft, when the Eagles hoped a player they liked would fall to them instead of aggressively moving up to secure one. I believe that was a costly lesson learned by Roseman, but at what point does the cost become to high?

1) Trade back 🔙

The Eagles 2023 draft picks:

Round Overall How acquired 
 10 From Saints 
 30 Eagles' own pick 
 62 Eagles' own pick 
 94 Eagles' own pick 
 219 From Vikings (via Texans) 
 248 Eagles' own pick 

As you can see, they only have six picks, and no picks in rounds four, five, and six.

Again, as noted on Tuesday, an ideal scenario would be for the Eagles to move back from 10th overall into the teens, where they could add a few extra picks and still land a good player.

The two most likely scenarios for them to move back:

  1. There are four surefire first-round quarterbacks in this draft in Bryce Young (Alabama), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida), and Will Levis (Kentucky). Should one of them still be available at pick 10, the best case scenario would be for the Eagles to land a package of picks from a team desperate for a quarterback.
  2. Other teams around the league could be jockeying for position to draft offensive linemen like Skoronski, Johnson, or Jones.

A trade up for Anderson or Carter is probably the best move Roseman and the Eagles could make, but that's likely to be very costly. A trade back is probably a little more realistic.

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