You know NFL Combine week is here when draft guru Mike Mayock has his annual conference call to talk about this year’s prospects.
Mayock, a Philadelphia native, was asked about what the Eagles should do this year since the Birds are in unfamiliar territory picking at No. 32 overall.
Sure. I think probably 1960 was the last time they were picked last.
But anyway, I think I have to preface it by saying the job that Howie Roseman did the last two years ranks off the general manager’s Hall of Fame and what they did with that roster and how they turned it over in a two-year period to win a Super Bowl. Then when you look going forward, you realize that every starter, except I think Nigel Bradham is under contract for this coming year, and they’ve really positioned themselves pretty darn well. Even to the extent that they’ve got a corner [Sidney Jones] that they drafted in the second round last year coming off achilles tear that’s ready to step in and play. So I’m just highly impressed with what Howie Roseman and that group has done.
When you look at sitting at 32, and I’ve had this conversation with teams that are used to drafting late, I think you’ve got to be multiple. I think you’ve got to be versatile. By that I mean you’ve got to get a good football player, but you also have to have an ability to move down if possible, if necessary. And the Eagles don’t have, if I remember this correctly, a two and a three.
So an ability to move down would be first and foremost in my mind. A lot of teams like to move up to get quarterbacks at the end of the first round to get that extra fifth-year option. So sitting at 32 is prime real estate for a move down. That’s first and foremost.
Secondly, if you’re sitting at 32 and you’re going to pick, you want to pick somebody that you think is safe. And I think Zach Berman asked earlier about Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. And I think I know why Zach asked, and Mike McGlinchey will be a great pick as a tackle at 32. I don’t think he’s going to last that long, but I think you’re looking for somebody that you can plug in year one in your system that will contribute somehow. Regardless of the position, he better be comfortable with who he is as a football player, and he’s going to come in day one and compete.
That’s very high praise for Roseman. Though ‘Hall of Fame’ might be hyperbolic, it’s obvious that Roseman and his staff deserve a lot of credit for bringing the first Lombardi Trophy to Philly.
But Roseman isn’t going to have a lot of time to bask in the glory of the Eagles’ first Super Bowl title. Free agency begins in a few weeks. Then Roseman’s going to have to decide what to do with the No. 32 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Mayock’s advice about trading down makes sense. The Eagles only have six selections in this year’s draft, and none of them fall on Day 2.
Round 1, Pick 32
Round 4, Pick 30 (acquired from Vikings in the Sam Bradford trade)
Round 4, Pick 32
Round 5, Pick 18 (acquired from Seahawks in the Matt Tobin trade)
Round 5, Pick 32
Round 6, Pick 32
Draft picks are especially valuable to the Eagles in their current state. As we all know, Philadelphia is very limited on cap space. It’s vital for Roseman to stock their system with talented young players on inexpensive rookie contracts.
History tells us there’s a good chance the Eagles will get offers for their first-round pick. As Mayock said, the value in getting a player at No. 32 as opposed to say, No. 36, is that first-round selections automatically have a fifth-year team option in their contract. That makes it easier for the team to keep them around in the long-term.
Ever since fifth-year options began in the 2011 NFL Draft, the last pick on Day 1 has been traded three out of seven times. A brief history:
2016 - German Ifedi (Seahawks trade up via Broncos) [NOTE: There were only 31 picks in the first round this year since the Patriots got their pick taken away due to DeflateGate]
2015 - DT Malcom Brown
2014 - QB Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings trade up via Seahawks)
2013 - S Matt Elam
2012 - RB David Wilson
2011 - OT Derek Sharrod — FIFTH-YEAR OPTIONS STARTED
Now let’s take a closer look at those three trades.
Patriots receive: Brandin Cooks, Saints’ fourth-round pick (No. 118)
Saints receive: Patriots’ first-round pick (No. 32), Patriots’ third-round pick (No. 103)
Analysis: The fourth-round pick the Patriots got in this deal was forfeited due to DeflateGate, though it allowed them to keep a fourth-round pick they got from Seattle, which turned out to be defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. So the Patriots got Cooks, a very good wide receiver, and a rotational defensive lineman in exchange for offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and pass rusher Trey Hendrickson. Ramczyk started all season long for the Saints and finished as the No. 4 graded tackle by Pro Football Focus. Hendrickson played 281 snaps as a rotational defensive lineman for the Saints. Overall, I’d say this deal worked out well for both sides. (Prior to Cooks getting knocked out by Malcolm Jenkins in the Super Bowl, at least.) The Pats got good value by trading out of No. 32.
The Broncos actually traded up from No. 31 to No. 26, so this deal doesn’t really apply to the Eagles’ interest of potentially trading down. Just wanted to mention it since the pick was moved.
Seahawks receive: Vikings’ second-round pick (No. 40), Vikings’ fourth-round pick (No. 108)
Vikings receive: Seahawks’ first-round pick (No. 32)
Analysis: The Vikings’ trade fits what Mayock described with a team desperate to move up for a quarterback at No. 32. Minnesota landed Teddy Bridgewater. He had a 86.3 passer rating over two seasons before suffering a nasty knee injury in 2016. Seattle, meanwhile, used their picks to get even more picks. The Seahawks took No. 40 and packaged it with their fifth-round selection at No. 146 to get the following selections from the Detroit Lions: No. 45, No. 111, and No. 227. Then they traded No. 111 to the Cincinnati Bengals for No. 123 and No. 199. When all was said and done, the Seahawks ended up with: wide receiver Paul Richardson, defensive end Cassius Marsh, wide receiver Kevin Norwood, offensive tackle Garrett Scott, and running back Kiero Small. That’s a whole lot of nothing, outside of Richardson, who is a respectable deep threat.
The reminder here is that trading down can land you a bunch of picks, yes, but that doesn’t mean it always works out. You could easily blow them and fail to land an impact player. Trading down isn’t always the no-brainer some make it out to be.
The feeling here is the Eagles should not go into draft night with the plan to automatically move down. If there’s someone they really like at No. 32, go get him. If they’re not feeling strongly about anyone, that’s when it’s time to hope someone else calls and wants to move up.
Mayock mentioned one name that could interest the Eagles, although he doesn’t expect him to be there when the Birds pick: Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.
Yeah, he’s one of my favorite players in the draft because I know the kid, and that helps me with evaluation. I know what kind of kid he is. He’s Matt Ryan’s cousin. I saw this kid play football and baseball at Ben Carter High School. I know the kidwell. I did Notre Dame games when he was young, and I’ve been around him when he works out in the weight room.
So the reason I have him as the No. 1 tackle in the draft, and by the way, I believe very much that those other tackles -- Orlando Brown, Connor Williams -- are in the same category as players, but I love two things about Mike McGlinchey. I love that he got coached by Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame, which tells me when he comes out, he’s going to be ready to play. I don’t care if you put him at right tackle or left tackle, he’s going to be ready to play.
And, number two, his work ethic and passion for the game of football is unparalleled. So I know what I’m getting with that kid, and that’s why I bang the table for him.
Offensive tackle is a big need for the Eagles, even if Jason Peters returns in 2018. It would be ideal to land a quality prospect there in the first round, just like we saw the Saints do with Ramcyzk last year.
The Eagles will have no shortage of options on draft night. And while Roseman isn’t infallible, his ability to the turn the Eagles around should have bought some confidence in his decision-making.