March 24, 2017
As we have noted in the past, in recent draft history, the Eagles have had by far the most success when they have traded up for their draft targets.
And so, here's a short list of players who might make sense for the Eagles if they somehow slipped to a range where the cost to move up wouldn't be devastating.
We already covered him, as noted above, but obviously, cornerback is the Eagles' biggest need in this draft, and Lattimore is the consensus top corner in the draft.
Lattimore was only a redshirt sophomore last season who has participated in under 20 games in his career at OSU, partly due to hamstring issues. 2016 was Lattimore's only season as a starter, when he had 41 tackles, four interceptions, and nine pass breakups. Lattimore is a phenomenal athlete, doing a great job of staying in phase with opposing receivers out of tight press coverage.
According to cfbfilmroom.com, Lattimore was targeted 36 times in 2016, and gave up just 13 receptions, or approximately one per game. He allowed one TD while collecting four INTs. He was also credited with 36 tackles, and just one missed tackle. That's outstanding.
As Dave Mangels of Bleeding Green Nation pointed out, the Bills at pick No. 10 feels like a sweet spot for the Birds to move up to jump ahead of the CB-needy Saints.
There's no chance in hell that Thomas will fall to the Eagles at pick No. 14, but again, if he were to fall to the 10-ish range, Thomas would be a player absolutely worthy of trading up to secure.
If you watched Stanford's bowl game against North Carolina, you saw that Thomas was the best football player on the field, not hyped quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
A highlight reel:
Thomas doesn't have eye-popping numbers (8 sacks in 2016, 3.5 sacks in 2015), but he was a disruptive force along the defensive line for Stanford.
The question that NFL teams will have to answer is, where do you put him? Is he too light at 273 pounds to play inside? Is he too short (6'3) with arms not ideal enough (33") to take with a top five pick as an edge rusher? There's a reasonable chance that Thomas could fall a bit further than he should because he isn't a perfect positional fit.
From the Eagles' perspective, he could be a guy who can play DE on early downs, and then kick inside to beat guards on obvious passing downs. Of course, that's what the Eagles just signed Vinny Curry to a five year deal worth $46.25 million to be, so there's that. Or maybe you just stick him out at RDE, leave him there, and tell him to hurt quarterbacks.
Foster is an awesome player, who is likely to be gone by the time the Eagles pick at 14. He's an intimidating thumper, but he also has speed, ability in coverage, and was a special teams standout while he waited his turn to be "the guy" in the middle of the Crimson Tide defense. He and Jordan Hicks would be an outstanding pair of linebackers.
A highlight reel:
But would they trade up for a linebacker when they have bigger needs at defensive end and corner? Maybe. With Nigel Bradham facing potential suspensions from the league for his two arrests last year, if the Eagles have an inkling he'll be out a substantial period of time (I'm not saying they do, to be clear), linebacker becomes a much bigger need to hunt in the draft, and Foster has the potential to be special.