Essentially the same topic covered by Mayock on the front page, but a good read with a couple different angles by Rich Hoffman. I think it really does a good job of summarizing the dynamics of the draft in 2009.
Rich Hofmann: Eagles in enviable draft position
EVERY TIME the possibility of the Eagles moving up in the first round of the NFL draft is brought up, the idea seems to be hooted down - and accompanied by worries that all they would do is take an offensive lineman anyway.
This might be the year, though - the year when you could move up farther for less treasure than at any time in the past.
At the owners' meetings last month, general manager Tom Heckert said the Eagles were in a position pretty much to do whatever they wanted to do. With the 21st and 28th picks in the first round, with a second and a third and about a hundred fifth-rounders, they could maneuver this thing however they wanted to maneuver it. They might be able to move up to the tippy-top of the first round if they were willing to give up both of those late first-rounders - something that would not have been true in the past but which, in 2009, could be at least in the conversation.
But there are myriad permutations. Their first pick and their second-round pick could probably get them in the top 10. Their first- and third-rounders could probably get them to about 15th. These are guesstimates because the value situation in the first round is not nearly as ironclad as it once was. You get the sense, reading newspaper Web sites around the country and places like ProFootballTalk.com, that there is this great, uncertain fluidity when it comes to drafting near the top of the first round.
Some of this is the United States economy, no doubt. More of it, though, is the National Football League economy and the upcoming labor uncertainty. There has been growing talk over the last few years about this entire subject - that high draft choices make so much guaranteed money in the NFL that teams are a-scared when they find themselves at the top of the round.
How a-scared? Nobody has suggested that the Detroit Lions are actually thinking this way, but it is being speculated that the smart move for the Lions might be to pass on the first pick and let the St. Louis Rams go ahead of them if they aren't completely in love with somebody - because, whether it's love or like, the first pick will cost whomever makes it somewhere north of $30 million in guaranteed money.
It is a bizarre sport in many ways. The warriors - and they are warriors, survivors of the most physically brutal sport we have - often find themselves in an ungainly cash scramble with people in the same situation while untested kids lounge on a couch in the VIP room. Because of that, teams find themselves looking at this great reward for being lousy and wondering if they want it.
There are people in the NFL who believe that the way to handle it is to give the worst team the choice of where it wants to draft, not mandating that it take the first pick. That is how far out of whack the economics have become.
So people have all of those uncertainties. There also has been ongoing discussion for a couple of years about the value chart that most teams use, and whether or not it reflects the economic realities. What used to be simple is not anymore - and, with that, the Eagles have their opportunity.
There are people who believe that the place where the Eagles currently sit with their first three picks - from about 20th in the first round down to about the same place in the second round - is the most valuable place to be drafting in the NFL. That is, you don't pay ridiculous sums for these guys but still have a good chance of finding quality players. In the cost-benefit analysis that these people endlessly perform, that is the value spot in the system.
But here is the counterargument: a disproportionate number of Pro Bowl players come from the first half of the first round of the draft. Yes, they cost more - a lot more. And, yes, when you miss on one those guys, the stain on the front of your shirt will be winking at you (and your paying customers) for years.
But so many of the difference-making players in the league come from that small pool. And while you can like the way the Eagles handle their business in most cases, and you can respect the talent level of their players and the overall ability of their coaches to scheme them into successful positions on the field, it seems clear that they need two more difference-makers, one on each side of the field.
Trade up, and you have a much better chance of getting one.
Given that all of this endless talk about trading for Anquan Boldin/Braylon Edwards/Chad Ocho Cinco/whoever is creative fiction until proven otherwise, maneuvering in the first round really makes sense. It might be the boldest thing the Eagles can do. *