I am of the opinion that come the end of April, it would better serve this franchise to try to accumulate as many picks as possible in the 25 to 90 range. We were 4-12 last year, and the stark reality is that a 4-12 team needs to make some extensive changes to the existing roster, unlike a 12-4 team who may be 1 or 2 guys away from the ultimate prize. In a draft that is allegedly lacking in elite, sure-thing prospects at the very top, (Not necessarily my opinion, but it is the opinion of the seemingly majority of folks who discuss the draft) the second level of prospects may be the most efficient way of using of our draft assets to revamp the talent on this roster.
However, it is common practice for some BGNers (and I am using that term very loosely for some of you) to scoff at others and myself when discussing the supposed improbability, or for some, the utter impossibility, of the Eagles trading back in the 2013 NFL Draft. The most common reasoning for this is they say that there is no single prospect that other team's have to have, and lacking that strong desire, other team's won't pay the price it takes to move up.
I consider this to be inaccurate, as my memory insists that every year there are trades that happen. Some early, some late, but there were always trades.
Well, I decided to take a quick, inexact look back at the 3 previous drafts to determine how much activity really occurs and if my memory serves me correctly.
Before I do that though, a few points need to be made.
The "talent level" of the prospects are going to vary from one year to another, and this absolutely factors into the equation of whether or not a team is going to move up for a prospect. However, I am going to disregard it for this exercise. Why, you may be asking? Because frankly, team's have to pick, or more accurately teams aren’t going to sacrifice their picks. So even if the prospect @ #5 this year is not as highly ranked as last year's @ #5, the team isn't going to say "You know what Goodell, these guys aren't as good as last years and so we are going to go home and pout." They will either try to trade back, trade for picks next year or take the guy who is highest on their board or fills a position of need. My point is, regardless of the prospect pool's overall talent level, they are still going to take part in the draft.
All of my information is via Wikipedia, so while I am sure that this has been sourced accurately, it may be off here or there. I was going to list all the details involved in the trades, but decided that I wasn't going to waste time recreating the wheel. If you want more info on the specifics, go to Wiki.
I am only going back to 2010 because of organizational turnover and personal laziness. For this exercise, I think it will be enough to make my point.
Here we go.
The 2012 Draft had 16 of the 32 1st round picks changing hands with 6 of the top 10 being involved in trades and 3 of the 1st round picks changing hands twice or more (from here on out, I will be referring to this as a "multiple"). The 2nd Round had 12 of 32 with 2 multiples and the 3rd round had 14 of 32 with 1 multiple.
Notes: The biggie here was the RGIII trade, with the #2 pick bringing back a veritable cornucopia of valuable picks (#6 that year, 2012 1st and 2nd and a 2013 1st). Obviously, RGIII is a once-in-a-decade #2 pick and I can't see anyone trading anything close to this for any of this year's prospects. But, this trade wasn't alone. CLE traded #4, #118, #139 & #211 to move up just 1 slot for Trent Richardson. JAX moved up to #7 for Blackmon, we moved up to #12 for Fletch, NE moved up to #21 for Hightower and TB moved up to #31 from the 2nd round for Doug Martin.
Overall, 42 of the top 96 picks, over 43%, were made by teams who the pick was not originally assigned to. To me, that is astounding. As you can see, several teams identified guys that were worth moving up for and made it happen. And the price paid to get into the top 5 was ridiculous.
The 2011 Draft had 7 of the 32 1st round picks changing hands with only 2 of the top 10 and only 1 multiple. The 2nd round had 12 of 32 with 3 multiples and the 3rd round had 12 of 32 with only 1 multiple.
Notes: The biggie this year was ATL moving way up to get Julio Jones (from #27 to #6 at the cost of 4 additional picks; #59, #124 and 2012's 1st and 2nd). The thing that sticks out to me about this trade is that they did this when they already had Roddy White, a legit #1 WR who is probably a top 10, if not top 5 WR in the League. Did anyone see this coming? I don't think so, and if they did, they probably would have been laughed at. A lot. It should also be noted that 7 of the top 11 guys taken are Pro Bowlers, so it is possible that the lack of movement at the top of this draft had more to do with teams identifying a must have guy that was actually available when it was their turn to select. And while this would seemingly work against my argument, it does show that it only takes 1 other team falling in love with a prospect for Howie and the boys finding a dance partner to trade with.
Overall, 31 of the top 96 picks, less than 33%, were made by teams who the pick was not originally assigned to.
The 2010 Draft had 11 of 32 1st round picks changing hands, but none in the top 10 and 3 multiples. The 2nd round had 15 of 32 with 8 multiples and the 3rd round had 12 of 32 with 5 multiples.
Notes: While the top 10 didn't change, the amount of movement and intricacy involved thereafter was mind blowing when I reviewed it. Some of the picks have so much detail involved that the explanations are paragraphs and harder to follow than the Te'O/Kekua tweets back and forth. To me, this tells me that each teams board was quite varied after the top 15-20 guys and when it came time for teams to pick, they didn't like any of the players available and found a team who did and made a move.
Overall, 38 of the top 96 picks, almost 40%, were made by teams who the pick was not assigned to but a staggering 16 of those were multiples. There were a few picks that changed hands 3 or 4 times.
So, what does all of this mean, or at least what does it mean to me as far as the Eagles and their #4 pick are concerned?
1- If they want to trade back, last year set a price precedent that won't be matched and as a result, any trade back will be compared to the first 2 last year and will almost certainly be deemed a "loss" because there is no way we are going to get back anything close to what STL or CLE got. However, this is probably a moot point to Howie and the boys because I seriously doubt that they will let public opinion deter them from making a move if they feel it is in the best interest of the team.
2- The last 3 drafts have shown that anywhere from 30%-40% of the picks in rounds 1-3 have change hands. There should be plenty of opportunity for Howie and the boys to broker transactions, because regardless of the perceived talent level of the players, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there will be prospects at the top of the draft that some team's feel they have to have. While 2010 didn't have a top 10 pick change hand, 2011 had 2 top 10 picks and 2012 had 6 of the top 7 change hands. The trend would point to teams being less apprehensive about paying what it costs to move up.
3- The positions of the top 5 picks are somewhat fluid from year to year, but at least 1 QB (#1 all 3 years), OT and pass rusher have been picked in the top 5 the last 3 years. While the QB prospects appear to be the weakest class in years, there are 2 outstanding Ts in the draft this year (Joeckel and Fisher, and J Matthews would have been #3 had he declared) and a handful of pass rushers that are very intriguing, depending on what system you run (DaMonster, Jarvis and Bjoern) that could be enticing enough for a team to move to #4, should their respective prospect be available when we are on the clock.
So, after 1500+ words, I would say that if Howie and the boys want to trade back, recent history shows us that it is indeed quite possible for them to do so. In fact, given the potential change to a 34 and the possibility of having to overhaul a great portion of the defense, a trade back is probably just as likely as staying @ 4.
As always, thanks for reading. Have a great day and a better tomorrow. Time's yours.