Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, there was a lot of speculation about the possibility of the Philadelphia Eagles trading up to get Marcus Mariota. Ultimately, it didn't happen. Rumors indicate Chip Kelly tried hard to get Mariota, but the former Eagles coach has publicly denied those reports. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter much now. It's in the past.
But what might not be in the past is the pre-draft speculation that the Eagles want to trade up for a quarterback. According to Lance Zierlein, at least one NFL executive thinks the Birds have moving up (again) in this year's order to draft a passer.
"Don't be surprised if a team like the Eagles makes a really strong move up the board to get (Carson) Wentz. I don't think he's worth it, but I think they do. Everyone thinks you have to move ahead of Cleveland, but (Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta) will want to get as many picks as possible out of this draft. It wouldn't surprise me if a team moved directly to Cleveland's spot for Wentz." -- NFC executive
And so now Wentz is now the new Mariota.
OK, so not really. The situations aren't exactly comparable. But this rumor can't be totally dismissed. There's actually some evidence to support it.
First of all, the Eagles (more specifically Jeffrey Lurie and Doug Pederson) have been very vocal that the team plans to draft a quarterback. So it's just a matter of when that will happen. One report states the Eagles plan to draft a quarterback within the first three rounds. Another report indicates there was talk at the NFL Combine that the Eagles wanted to move in position to select one of the top three quarterbacks in this year's class. The Birds already traded up from No. 13 to No. 8. Now they're only six spots away from being able to move up to as high as No. 2 if they really wanted to make the jump.
Moving up obviously wouldn't be cheap. The Eagles do have nine draft selections, but they don't own their 2016 second round pick. It might be hard to see the Eagles investing a lot of resources into trading up for a quarterback prospect after already spending so much money on Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Then again, the Eagles could be hoping to hedge their bet at the most important position in the game. Neither Bradford nor Daniel are sure-fire long-term options under center.
The Eagles have shown some interest in Wentz this offseason. They met with him twice at the Senior Bowl. Interestingly enough, Lurie attended the Senior Bowl this year. He usually doesn't do that. Most owners don't show up there.
It's easy to see why the Eagles could have some interest. A number of draft "experts" have Wentz as the top quarterback prospect in this year's class. The 23-year-old passer has good size at 6-5, 237 and is fairly athletic.
As always, it should be noted that any kind of pre-draft rumor is susceptible to being a #smokescreen in order to cloak a team's true intentions. The Eagles could be hoping another team trades ahead of them to take Wentz so that the prospect they truly desire falls to them. Or maybe the Eagles actually do like Wentz. It's all a guessing game for now.
It'll be interesting to see if there's any more substances to these Wentz rumors or if this is just a one-off thing. We'll certainly find out as the NFL Draft draws closer.