Adam Schefter kicked off what will be a very busy Thursday for him with a morning interview on 97.5 The Fanatic. When it came to being asked about his take on what the Philadelphia Eagles will do, here’s what the NFL insider had to say:
“My gut feeling is that they’ll be sitting there at 21, it’ll get to around pick 16, 17, 18 … there will be a guy there that Howie loves, he can’t help himself, and they’ll go up a few picks and get a guy because … I don’t think he’s going to wait. Like, what was the draft where they took Marcus Smith? Remember that draft? I think that that scarred people in Philadelphia. Because there were guys that they wanted — not because of the player they picked, because of the guys that didn’t get there, went off the board before them. And so, I believe there are a few players your team loves. And if one of them is there at 15 or 16 and the price is not prohibitive … and that would just be my guess. I don’t think they move back. If they move back, that’s a bad sign. If they move back, that tells you the guys that they want went off the board. If they move up, that tells you that they didn’t want to run the risk of that Marcus Smith draft. And if they sit where they are, it tell you that it played out the way they wanted, that one of the guys they like, and there are a few, fell into their lap and they’re good with that. And so if you ask me what’s going to happen, that’s about as good as I can do for you right now.”
I tend to agree that the most likely outcome for the Eagles tonight is a small trade up from No. 21, assuming one of the top four receivers is still on the board. Moving up would prevent teams from behind the Eagles jumping over their pick.
On that note, I think the 2014 draft that Schefter referenced serves as a cautionary tale. The Eagles were realistically hoping to get one of the following six players at No. 22 that year: Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyle Fuller, C.J. Mosley, Brandin Cooks, or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Howie Roseman’s plans were foiled when the New Orleans Saints unexpectedly jumped from No. 27 to No. 20 to grab Cooks. Then Clinton-Dix went off the board at No. 21, which caused the Eagles to trade back from No. 22 to No. 26. The Eagles found a trade partner with the Cleveland Browns, who wanted to move up for Johnny Manziel.
When their pick came up at No. 26, the Eagles wanted to trade back again. But they failed to find appropriate value from another team and were forced to make their own pick instead. That was Marcus Smith, who ended up being a huge bust.
The Eagles don’t want to find themselves in the same boat as they were back then this year. Hence why Schefter likely believes a small trade up is the preferable option.
The danger in waiting to draft Justin Jefferson, for example, at No. 21 is that someone could leap ahead of Philly’s pick to get him. The Eagles could then look to trade down if the top four receivers are off the board but Philly’s leverage will be damaged at that point. Other teams will realize the Eagles missed out on their top targets and pepper Roseman with low ball offers. With no good deals on the table, the Eagles might be forced to stay at No. 21 and pick, say, a linebacker like Kenneth Murray.
That’s just one possible scenario where things could work out poorly for the Eagles. It’s also possible things break quite favorably for them.
But, as Roseman said earlier this offseason, hope is not a strategy. The Eagles might have to get aggressive to end up with one of the players they’re realistically targeting.