April 29, 2021
The Eagles seemed to have plenty of impact players available to them with the sixth pick in the NFL Draft. Sure, a few quarterbacks, Kyle Pitts and Ja'Marr Chase likely would've all been off the board, but Howie Roseman and Co. would've have their choice of just about anyone else they wanted.
Then they traded back to 12. They seemingly still have a decent chance at landing one of the players widely regarded as both a good fit and a good player — think DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn — despite the decision to move back. And making it even better? They picked up an additional 2022 first-round pick in the trade back with the Dolphins last month.
It's very possible (and some would say likely) that one of those four previously mentioned players will be on the board for the Birds on Thursday night, but it appears that once again the team might try to outthink itself when it comes time to make their pick. Here's more from NFL Network's Stacy Dales, who was reporting live from the NovaCare Complex ahead of the first round...
They’re going to be prepared to move up, move down — as far as trades are concerned — or stay right there at 12. I talked to a couple people within the building and they believe this thing runs 16, 17 deep. So, yes, they’re going to go through their 1 through 12. Not a mock draft, necessarily, but their board, based upon their grades. And if somebody’s there at 12, they’ll be prepared to strike.
And I leave you with this: we all talk about wide receiver and cornerback being huge positions of need, but don’t be surprised if it’s somebody else. It may not be the perfect position, I’m told, it’s going to be the player. It may not be the position everyone thinks based upon the biggest need at the moment, but it’s going to be a really good player at a position this franchise needs in 2021, 22, 23, 24, and beyond. [h/t bleedinggreennation.com]
If you're an Eagles fan hoping the Birds were going to address one of their two biggest needs in the first-round (cornerback or wideout), then this was probably your reaction to reading that report:
And it's hard to blame you after the Eagles went against their own scouting department in Round 1 last year by taking Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson, and then went with a quarterback in the second round when a guy like Jeremy Chinn was still available. Now this?
If the Eagles aren't going with one of those two positions — and keep in mind that they obviously still can — what position could they address?
The part about building for the future suggests the team could be looking to build along the lines, where they might not need an immediate upgrade but will certainly be in need within a few short years as guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce all creep up there in age.
There are expected to be options available at 12 on both sides of the ball — Northwestern tackle Rayshawn Slater on offense and Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye on defense, as well as several others — that wouldn't necessarily be a reach for the Eagles at their current spot, but would certainly be less exciting than a skill player.
And then there's this report from Adam Schefter that should scare Eagles fans, as this sounds exactly like the kind of smarter-than-you move Roseman would make when there's absolutely no need to do so.
In a draft light on defensive linemen, here’s a name that could be called tonight: Houston DE Payton Turner could go in the first round due to his character, medicals and length, some NFL execs believe.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
Beyond addressing line depth, they could go with linebacker, a position they've historically not invested much in, and take Penn State's Micah Parsons. There's also a chance the Eagles could go with a quarterback if one of the top five options slip past the first 10 picks.
Of course, the Eagles could simply just do what the fans — and the media — believe they should do. But I wouldn't hold your breath.
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