Tony Pauline, a draft expert from SI.com and TFY Draft Insider, said yesterday that sources are telling him the Eagles would like to trade up into the top 10, from the 15th spot in the first round, to draft Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
My initial reaction is that this makes sense. Cox is touted as a difference-maker on the defensive line, and most recent draft projections have him gone by pick 15. We don't know that the Eagles covet him more than, say, LSU DT Michael Brockers, but if Cox is as dynamic as he is said to be, moving up for the bigger impact guy wouldn't shock anyone.
When reports started sifting out about the Eagles looking to move up, speculation centered on Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I think there's a real possibility the Birds will look for a QB in the first few rounds, but they'd have to move up into the top 5 to really be sure of getting Tannehill, and I always thought that was unlikely. There's no way Tannehill is starting here this season. To get him, you'd have to expend a lot of resources, for something that would not help your 2012 team. If the Eagles DID do that, we'd know Andy Reid was staying, regardless of what happens this season. But I really don't think that issue is settled, and I think they want to address more urgent needs with their first-round pick.
So, Cox, which wouldn't require as big a move, makes sense, although one thing about all this talk makes me wonder -- I really doubt the Eagles are going around telling teams they'd like to trade up for Cox, or even letting that information filter out of NovaCare through back channels. That is not how they do things ... unless their target isn't really Cox.
Other possible targets? Looks like you'd have to move into the top 10 now for BC linebacker Luke Kuechly, which also would not be a bad idea. Yes, I know the Eagles acquired DeMeco Ryans. He is one guy, still trying to prove he has gotten everything back after Achilles' surgery. I can't imagine the Birds really think they are set at linebacker.
You'll recall that at the recent owners' meetings, Reid acknowledged he "goofed" in underestimating the need for top-notch LBs behind a wide-nine front. This draft might tell us whether he considers last year's approach to linebacking a "small-g" goof, or a GOOF! Moving up to draft Kuechly would be saying "Wow, we weren't even close to having what we needed to run this defense."
If the Eagles had a move-up target other than Cox or Kuechly, I'd be a little surprised. LSU* corner Morris Caliborne? Maybe, wouldn't rule it out, but there again, the 2012 starters at corner will be Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Claiborne would be another move more for the future than for now.
But let's not assume the Eagles are trading up, just because they've looked into it. The 15th overall spot isn't terrible. Whether to trade up might come down to how things start to fall on draft day, past the first few picks.
Another factor in moving up is Asante Samuel. Does he help you move up, or is his salary a complicating factor? I don't see anybody who isn't a contender wanting a 31-year-old corner. How many contenders are drafting in the top 10.
*Post originally said Alabama, because my brain malfunctioned. Thanks to commentors below for pointing out Claiborne is from LSU.