The Eagles have spent the better part of the last couple of weeks considering the different scenarios that could happen in front of them Thursday night in the first round of the NFL draft.
They have had conversations with every team in the league. They have done countless mock drafts (yes, NFL teams do them as well). They have a plan for every potential scenario.
After trading down from six to 12 last month, could they trade back up? Absolutely, if somebody they like/want slips a few spots and the price isn’t too onerous.
Could they trade down again? You betcha. Especially if somebody wants to give them a high-round pick in next year’s draft, which could be one of the most talented in history.
Could they stay put at 12? Most definitely. This is the year of the Great Quarterback Grab. Five QBs very well could go among the first seven or eight picks. That’s going to push the position players down and increase the chances of the Eagles getting an impact player at 12.
But if somebody like tight end Kyle Pitts or wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase were to unexpectedly slip to eight or nine, the Eagles could pounce.
They did it in 2019 when they moved up from 25 to 22 to get offensive tackle Andre Dillard, giving up fourth- and sixth-rounders to the Ravens.
Seven years before that, they moved up three spots from 15 to 12 in the 2012 draft to take defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Paid a fourth- and sixth-rounder then as well (to Seattle).
The Eagles have a league-high five picks in the sixth and seventh rounds, and two picks in the third round. So they certainly have the wherewithal to do some maneuvering in the next three days.
They also have another potential bargaining chip — three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, who many expect to be moved at some point during this draft. FYI, the Carolina Panthers, who own the eighth overall pick, got a total of 27 receptions from all their tight ends last season.
“We’re talking to teams in front of us and teams behind us,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “We’re trying to figure out what everything is going to look like because when you’re on the clock that’s harder to do. You don’t want to get into a negotiation when you’re on the clock or another team is on the clock.
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“You want to make sure that you understand what they’re looking for and what you’re willing to do. We’ll figure out what [another team] would be willing to do if their guy is there.
“It’s all contingent on a player being there, but we try to have all that homework done. If we’ve had the conversation with a team where the compensation is worked out before the draft, then you can just pick up the phone and say, ‘You ready to roll?’ And it’s done.”
Roseman loves to wheel and deal. The Eagles have made 33 draft trades since he became general manager in 2010. That’s the fourth most in the league during that period.
The Eagles have four of the top 84 picks in the draft. They haven’t had four in the top 85 since 2005.
They need to do better with these four picks than Andy Reid and his two top personnel people, Tom Heckert and Jason Licht, did in ’05 when they took defensive tackle Mike Patterson (No. 31), wide receiver Reggie Brown (No. 35), linebacker Matt McCoy (No. 61), and running back Ryan Moats (No. 77).
Patterson was a good late-first-round pickup. Made the NFL all-rookie team, played eight years for the Eagles and made 99 starts.
Brown was, at best, a serviceable receiver. Had three 40-catch seasons in five years. But both McCoy and Moats were busts.
One thing is certain about this draft. There are going to be a lot of mistakes. Maybe some really, really glaring ones.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the predraft scouting process. Dozens of prospects opted out of the 2020 season. The Pac-12 and Big-10 conferences played abbreviated schedules. So NFL teams are relying on two-year-old game tape.
NFL scouts weren’t allowed on college campuses last fall, which prevented them from getting valuable in-person information on players from coaches, trainers, and other on-campus sources.
The league scouting combine in Indianapolis — where more than 330 invited prospects work out for teams, are interviewed, and get extensive medical checks — was canceled.
Earlier this month, the league brought 150 prospects to Indy for medical exams. But teams are going to be flying blind on a lot of players in this draft. A game of rock, papers, scissors can only tell you so much.
“Last year, as weird as it was, at least they got the combine in and had good medicals on 330-plus guys,” said NFL Network senior draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “This year, you only end up with 150 guys getting checked.
“So you’ve got incomplete medical information on all of these guys. And nothing scares a general manager more than not having the medical. People are majorly freaked out about the medical stuff.
“There are going to be a lot of guys that get picked this year that teams are not comfortable with medically. That’s one of the reasons you’re going to see teams very willing to part with late picks to try and move up in the second, third, and fourth rounds, or even trade some picks this year for picks next year.”