The Philadelphia Eagles made a bit of a surprise move on Thursday when they traded a fifth round draft pick for Darren Sproles. While Sproles is a valued addition to the roster, the trade left some feeling concerned. Trading away a draft pick now only leaves the Eagles with a total of six heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. What makes this especially concerning is this upcoming draft class has been lauded as "the best draft class in ten years." Here are the picks the Eagles currently own:
Round 1 - 22
Round 2 - 54
Round 3 - 86
Round 4 - TBD
Round 5 - TBD
Round 7 - TBD
The pick numbers beyond the third round are yet to be released. They will be determined when compensatory picks are awarded. The Eagles are not projected to get a compensation pick. So how can they acquire more? Let's take a look at their options. As I see it, there are three main options.
The Eagles have a few players who could be on the trade block this offseason.
Brandon Graham - Graham proved he can rush the passer and defend as the run really well as a 4-3 defensive end in 2012. The worst kept secret is that the doesn't seem to be an ideal fit in the 3-4 as an outside linebacker, however. Graham saw the field in limited time last season. Perhaps he could see more time on the field this year if they put him in rotation with Trent Cole. If he's not in the Eagles' long-term plans, however, it would make sense for them to trade him to a 4-3 team in need of a defensive end. Jeff McLane of the Inquirer has noted Graham does indeed have trade value.
Vinny Curry - The Eagles also drafted Curry as a 4-3 DE but he switched to being a 3-4 DE last season. He rushed the passer well last year despite starting off the season as an inactive. Some will argue that Curry doesn't fit the Eagles' system, but the numbers tell a different story. In limited playing time last season, Curry led all Eagles 3-4 DEs in sacks. Unless the Eagles receive an offer they can't refuse, keeping Curry makes sense.
Bryce Brown - With the addition of Sproles, the Eagles' running back picture is more crowded than it was expected to be. Some immediately speculated Brown could be gone. Brown has flashed potential and is still very young. He's only 22! Then again, Dion Lewis was also young and showed potential before the Eagles traded him away last offseason. There could be a market for Brown.
Chris Polk - McLane reported that Polk is expected to have a bigger role in the Eagles' 2014 offense. So unless that changed with the Sproles trade, I don't see him being gone.
DeSean Jackson - Now, wait a second before pulling your hair out here. I've already written multiple times that it doesn't make sense to trade Jackson unless there's some kind of underlying issue that's not privy to public knowledge. It's been reported that the Eagles are not shopping Jackson. Even still, some Jackson trade speculation has popped up this offseason. Check out this line from Paul Domowitch of the Daily News in a recent column:
After re-signing Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and now adding a unique weapon like Sproles, who caught 71 passes last season and had seven touchdown catches in two of the last three seasons, and a draft coming up that includes one of the best and deepest wide-receiving classes in recent history, might the Eagles be willing to trade Jackson for more picks? Believe me when I tell you it’s been talked about on the second floor of NovaCare.
It's interesting that this speculation just won't die.
This one is simple. If the Eagles don't like who's at pick No. 22 or even later in the draft, they could easily decide to trade down to get more picks. Given that the Eagles maintain they don't draft for need and instead focus on "Best Player Available", it makes even more sense for them to do this.
If worst comes to worst and the Eagles don't add any more picks, it might not be the end of the world. Last year, the Eagles drafted eight players. Of those eight, only six remain with the team. And one of those six players one spent the entire year on injured reserve. So the Eagles only kept five players on their regular season regular who were 2013 draft picks. If the Eagles hit on all six picks from this year's class, that would already be more than they had on the roster last year. Then there's the matter of undrafted free agency. Last season the Eagles added a few UDFAs who made the regular season roster: Jake Knott, Damion Square, Matt Tobin, and Matthew Tucker. The Eagles ending up cutting their seventh round picks Jordan Poyer and David King, but adding talent through UDFA kind of makes up for that difference.
Ideally, the Eagles will be able to add more picks before the draft this year. I would be a little surprised if they didn't. They have some trade pieces. But even in the worst case scenario, it's not the end of the world if they can't add any more. While quantity is nice, and the Eagles could certainly stand to add more talent to their roster, the most important thing is that the Eagles continue to hit big on the picks they do own.