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April 23, 2021

Five first-round trades the Eagles could make based on recent mock drafts

Trading up? Trading back? Trading for Mecole Hardman? It's all on the table for the Birds...

Eagles NFL

By this time next week, the NFL Draft will be well underway, with the first round already over and the second and third on deck, followed by Saturday's four-round pick-fest that goes from noon until the early evening. It's a marathon worthy of the hours (read: days, weeks and months) of coverage that goes in to preparing for the annual three-day event. 

And with 11 picks this year after already making one of this year's big draft trades, the Eagles again find themselves in a precarious position. Following years of misses — and on the heels of trading away one of their highest draft picks ever just as he enters the prime years of his career — Howie Roseman and Co. need to hit, not just on one pick but on multiple.

Their previous trade back from six to twelve gave them some added ammo when it comes to trying to make the right picks, perhaps an attempt to employ the always reassuring even-a-blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut strategy. There have been rumors as recently as last week that the Eagles could be looking to move back up in the Top 10 and would need to surrender some of that ammo to do so, but pretty much anything is still on the table at this point. And that includes the Eagles trading up. Or, once again trading back. Or they could keep the 12th pick and try to use some of their later picks to move back up into the first round.

We won't know what the right decision is until we not only see how the first round plays out but, more realistically, until we see these prospects actually on the field on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Eagles will need to make a decision much more quickly and won't have the luxury of hindsight — no matter how badly they could use it — when they go on the clock next Thursday. But don't worry, the media will be here, as always, to immediately judge their decisions nonetheless. 

So, what will the Eagles do when the draft opens up next week? Our own Jimmy Kempski took a look at the Birds' Top 10 options with the 12th pick, including trades up and down, but we figured today would be as good a time as any to examine a few trade scenarios for the Eagles based on some recent mock drafts in which the writer has them moving off that 12th pick. There are some interesting ones, for sure, including one that would bring the Eagles a dangerous (veteran) wide receiver, as well as one that could cause Eagles fans to form a single-file line on the Ben Franklin Bridge. Let's dive in, shall we?

Trading back again

Our first three options will all come from Bill Barnwell of ESPN, who recently put together an all-trade mock draft. What's that, you ask? It's basically a mock draft where no players are actually selected. Instead, a trade (including picks and current players) is offered up for each of the 32 spots. And the Eagles came up in quite a few of them. 

First, and most obviously, their name came up in their own spot at 12th overall, which means Barnwell doesn't really see a trade back up into the Top 10 as an option (he offered up trades for every pick and the Eagles didn't make the cut, so do with that what you will, Eagles fans who are still holding out hope for Kyle Pitts or Ja'Marr Chase). 

Interestingly enough, Barnwell has the Birds trading back (again) with the Dolphins (again), giving Miami that 12th pick back while the the Eagles move back six spots and pick up a second-rounder in the process. Here's more from Barnwell on one option for the Eagles with the 12th pick... 

12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA through SF)

Eagles get: 1-18, 2-50

Miami Dolphins get: 1-12, 3-84, 6-224

The Eagles will be open for business here, and with the Chargers and the Vikings both in the market for an offensive tackle with the next two picks, they should hear some calls from teams that want to move up and get ahead of those organizations for Rashawn Slater or USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The Dolphins just made a deal with the Eagles, of course, but this move up would get them another building block with which to protect Tagovailoa. This is an almost perfect swap on the Stuart chart, which would be more likely to align with these two analytically inclined franchises and how they typically value picks.  [espn.com]

Trading back a bit further

This next one from Barnwell would involve the Eagles moving back even further, but they'd get the added benefit of an additional third-round pick while actually netting an additional pick (the previous trade would be a net-negative in terms of total picks). 

That being said, this one is even riskier if Roseman is looking to get a stud player and feels like a perfect spot for the Eagles to reach on a guy they could've likely gotten by either trading back up into the first round or by waiting until their own second-round pick. 

22. Tennessee Titans

Titans get: 1-12, 5-150

Philadelphia Eagles get: 1-22, 2-53, 3-100

The Titans don't need a left tackle with Taylor Lewan entrenched on Ryan Tannehill's blind side, but they could want to take one of the draft's top tackles to play the right side. Kendall Lamm, who came over from the Browns, is probably best as a swing tackle in the role Dennis Kelly used to play for Tennessee.

Moving ahead of the Chargers and Vikings could get the Titans Rashawn Slater. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson would send the Eagles a second-rounder and the third-round compensatory pick they netted for losing Jack Conklin, the team's prior solution at right tackle.  [espn.com]


MORE: Roseman explains why Eagles swapped 6th pick for No. 12


A different trade-back option

Here's one last one from Barnwell, and this is a doozy, as it has the Eagles trading almost out of the first round entirely, but it does help them address one of their immediate needs with a proven player: Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs get: 1-12, 2022 fifth-round pick

Philadelphia Eagles get: 1-31, 2-63, 2022 second-round pick, WR Mecole Hardman

A lot of teams in the NFL will try to pretend at one point or another that they're one player away from winning the Super Bowl. The Chiefs might actually have been one good left tackle away from back-to-back titles, given how quickly their offense fell apart without Eric Fisher against the Buccaneers. We know Andy Reid takes left tackle very seriously; he traded a first-round pick to the Bills for Jason Peters during his time with the Eagles and made Fisher his first draft pick after joining Kansas City.

This would be a lot to give up for one player, but the Chiefs might think left tackle is just that important. By getting ahead of the Chargers and Vikings, Kansas City could have its pick of the non-Penei Sewell left tackles in the class.

By making a deal with their old coach, the Eagles would get a first-round pick, two second-rounders and add a wide receiver with upside to their roster in Hardman, whose role with the Chiefs is capped by the presence of Tyreek Hill.  [espn.com]

By landing him, it would allow the Eagles to address cornerback with one of their first two picks (31 or 37). Additionally, the ability to land Hardman, who is just 23 and has two years left on his rookie deal, while also getting an additional second-rounder in 2021 and another in 2022 would be quite the haul. If the Eagles do trade back, something like feels much more like a win than either of the first two trades mentioned. And it certainly feels better than this next trade...

A trade that would cause the fanbase to melt down

This one comes from Peter Schrager of NFL.com, and it's hard to think he's not trolling Eagles fans with this. Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who wowed in the national title game, falls to the Eagles at 12. And what does Howie do? Trades back and takes a lineman?!? 

Pick 12

New England Patriots (via Eagles)

DeVonta Smith, Alabama · WR

Everyone seems to think Philadelphia is looking to trade up into the top 10, but I believe the Eagles are a prime team to trade down, looking to squeeze out another first-round pick for next year -- giving them potentially four in 2022 -- or an additional second-rounder in 2021. New England gives up its second-round pick (No. 46) to move up three spots for the Heisman-winning, Nick Saban-endorsed star WR1.

[...]

Pick 15

Philadelphia Eagles (via Patriots)

Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC · OL

Philadelphia trades back three spots, picks up another Day 2 pick (No. 46 from the Patriots) and still gets one of the top offensive linemen in the draft. The Eagles have so many picks in the next two drafts that they could be in Best Player Available mode, even if they end up staying at No. 12.   [nfl.com]

If this were to happen, it would really lead to speculation that Roseman simply hates Alabama. With several top prospects from Tuscaloosa potentially being available when the Eagles pick, the Eagles GM was already asked about why the team seems so hesitant to take players from the school.

"You know, I'd like to joke and say it's something about being a Florida grad with Alabama, but the reality is my wife's family is from Mobile and they're Alabama fans," Roseman said earlier this week. "You know, I think we look at Alabama as a program that's incredibly well run. The NFL players that come out of there are ready to play and ready to go. 

"I know there's a lot of guys on our draft board at the University of Alabama not only in this draft but in a lot of other drafts. Tremendous respect for Coach [Nick] Saban and what they've done there, and we would be excited to add players from the University of Alabama."

In addition to Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II, Mac Jones, Najee Harris and Christian Barmore could all be selected in or near the first round next week. But it's those first three names that have been most linked to the Eagles in the lead up to the draft, dating back to before they traded down to the 12th pick. If one of them (in this case, Smith) is still there and Roseman again trades back, only for a rival like the Pats to come up and take that player off the board while the Eagles select an offensive lineman, this city my riot.

You thought the "Fire Howie" chants at a Phillies game were bad? 


MORE: Shander: Feel free to boo the Eagles (and Howie Roseman) anywhere — it's our way


Trading back up into the first round

Finally, we get to one more traditional option for the Eagles, this time from Joe Giglio of NJ.com. He has the Eagles sticking with their pick at 12th overall (and drafting a cornerback that's been mocked to them quite a bit this year), but he also has them trading back into the late first round to get a wide receiver from the secondary tier of WRs. 

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

If the Eagles have similar grades on the next three or four players off the board around this time, a trade down makes sense. But if Horn is the last guy in their first group of potential picks (with, say, Surtain and Waddle) just call in the pick at No. 12.

[...]

TRADE: The Eagles trade the No. 37 and No. 84 overall pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for the No. 32 pick.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

I thought about Kadarius Toney from Florida here, but ultimately went with a guy more suited for an outside role in the NFL. If the Eagles don’t go WR at No. 12, using capital to move back into the first round to get a pass catcher is a possible route.  [nj.com]

It seems like most fans want the Eagles to get a wideout and a corner with their first two picks, so this seems like it would be more palatable for the fanbase, certainly more so than the prior option.

What will Roseman and Andy Weidl (and, I guess, Jeffrey Lurie) do in the first round on Thursday night? At this point, your guess is as good as mine. 


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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