The lead-up to the NFL Draft each year is typically filled with rumors and speculation. This offseason is no different. Sometimes there's truth to these rumors. Other times misinformation is intentionally planted to throw people off the trail of a team's true intentions (#smokescreen).
Here's a look at some Philadelphia Eagles rumors that are currently floating around. These aren't necessarily hard reports. Take these with a grain of salt.
One rumor has the Eagles connected to Jalen Ramsey, who is viewed as the top defensive back in this year's draft class. From ThaSportsJunkies101.com:
The Philadelphia Eagles are being said to be the top contender to trade up for the Cleveland Browns’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. With the signing of Robert Griffin III to the Browns, the need at quarterback becomes secondary (at least Hue Jackson believes so). Given the Brown’s new front office executive belief in "Moneyball" economic principles, it is feasible to believe that Cleveland would actually trade out their No. 2 for more draft picks and the Eagles would take quarterback Carson Wentz.
Quarterbacks are the primary target in football. And yes, the Eagles don’t necessary have a franchise quarterback and haven’t had one since Donovan McNabb. But, do they need to pick Wentz as their first round overall pick? The answer is NO. Our sources are indicating that the Eagles are interested in moving up to take Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey and not Wentz.
Ramsey played safety at Florida State before moving to cornerback in 2015. The Eagles obviously don't need a safety after extending Malcolm Jenkins' contract this offseason and signing Rodney McLeod. I can't see the Eagles trading up so high just to get a cornerback. That's not a slight to Ramsey, who projects to be a really good player. It's just that the Eagles have a glut of cornerbacks on the roster (nine players not including Malcolm Jenkins) and I don't think they'd be that desperate to get Ramsey. If the Birds are going to trade up, I have to imagine it'd be for a quarterback.
While we're on the topic of this player, read more about Ramsey here.
If Ramsey were to play cornerback in the NFL, not only would that increase the learning curve he would experience getting to the NFL, but it really mitigates the impact he can have on every game. Playing corner is very reactionary. Cornerbacks are asked to play to prevent plays on every down and they are confined to operating in a much smaller portion of the field on every down. On the contrary, playing safety like Ramsey does is not about preventing plays, it is about creating them. Ramsey is not a reactionary player, he attacks and he disrupts all aspects of offense when he is playing at the safety position.
He's a really good athlete:
John McMullen wrote the following about Jack in a mock draft over at 973ESPN.
[He's] the player two NFL sources say is at the top of the Eagles draft board.
Jack is viewed as the top linebacker prospect in this year's draft. For what it's worth, Howie Roseman personally attended Jack's pro day. Here's what we wrote about Jack at the time:
Jack is 20 years old and measures in at 6-1, 245 pounds. In 29 games played for UCLA, Jack finished his college career with 178 total tackles, 19 passes defensed, four interceptions, one forced fumble, and one sack. Jack wasn't just a linebacker, however. He also contributed at running back. He ran for 11 touchdowns and 387 yards on 68 carries for 5.7 yards per attempt. Not bad, huh?
The Eagles don't necessarily have an immediate need at linebacker. Jordan Hicks was looking like the Defensive Rookie of the Year before he got hurt and should be the team's starting middle linebacker. Mychal Kendricks was up and down last season after receiving a contract extension but figures to be a starter as well. Newly signed linebacker Nigel Bradham, who shares a connection with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, was paid to be a starter.
It's very possible Jack won't be on the board by the time the Eagles pick at No. 8. If he is, they could draft him even though they don't "need" him. This example could be a true case of taking the best player available regardless of position. I don't think the Eagles would trade up for Jack but they might be happy to see him fall to them.
For more on Jack, read what BGN's Ben Natan wrote about him earlier this offseason.
One of the hottest names in the draft is UCLA linebacker, Myles Jack. The junior defender dominated college as an athletic freak that UCLA moved all over the defense and he was able to play various positions at an incredibly high level. The question remains, where does an undersized but speedy linebacker play in the NFL and how valuable is Jack? The answer is that the dynamic that Jack offers at *middle linebacker* is beyond valuable. The valuation of inside linebacker play is odd, because you can manufacture decent play at the position by having a strong defensive line, so the middle 80% of the league's talent at the position is fairly interchangeable. However, having dynamic speed and coverage ability at the position a la Bobby Wagner, Luke Keuchly or Patrick Willis is invaluable. A linebacker who has that coverage ability can completely change the make up of a defense because it takes some pressure off of defensive backs while locking down the intermediate and shallow middle of the field. Jack's fluidity in coverage and insane closing speed make me think he can be that special type of linebacker and if someone were to take that type of player in the top ten or even top five, I could understand why.
This is a minor note but the 973ESPN mock draft also seems to mention Elliott isn't in play at No. 8.
The Eagles believe the top tier of this draft is 10 deep and even though running back is a bigger need than tackle, forget Ezekiel Elliott because he’s not in that mix.
Roseman was asked about the value of the running back position last week. He publicly downplayed the notion that running backs can be easily found in the late rounds, which seems to suggest he wouldn't totally rule out drafting Elliott so high. Despite this, I don't think Elliott will be the pick in the first round either. I'm a fan of Elliott and think the team should consider drafting him, but I don't see it happening because I think Roseman will think there's better value in the third or fourth round. Roseman's comments downplayed late round running back success, but he didn't say anything about the middle of the draft.
While I don't know how much truth there is to the latest rumors connecting Wentz to the Eagles, I don't get the sense they're totally untrue. To recap, here's what we've heard recently.
1) An NFC executive thinks the Eagles will trade up to draft Wentz. They'll possibly even swing a deal with the Browns at No. 2.
2) The Eagles are rumored to be one of four teams trying to move up to No. 1 overall. This rumor doesn't actually connect the Eagles to Wentz or any specific prospect, but one would assume the Birds would be moving up for a quarterback in this scenario.
3) Interesting comment from Ron Jaworski, whom the Eagles consulted before hiring Doug Pederson. His words: "Teams will start jockeying up if they really like (a quarterback). Don’t discount the Eagles moving into this mix either. I got a funny feeling quarterback is on their list."
The Wentz speculation isn't just a one-off report. There's smoke here, and it could make sense since the Eagles have publicly committed to drafting a quarterback. Then again, maybe they're really just trying to make people think they want a passer.
So in summary, no one has a clue what the Eagles are going to do. That's probably how Roseman wants things to be.