The Eagles have the luxury of patience and not only took a pass on their first pick with a trade out of the first round of the NFL draft, but accepted a 2019 second rounder as their main compensation rather than a selection this year.
A Super Bowl title buys time.
“Our balance was the short term vs. the long term on the trade offers,” executive Howie Roseman said not long after the Eagles swapped picks with the Ravens on Thursday night. “And we decided that it’s just too hard to get a second-round pick. When we look at the draft, the difference in value when you’re picking in the second round vs. even when you’re picking in the third round.
“It’s too good. It gives you a lot of flexibility.”
The Eagles sent their No. 32 (first round) and No. 132 (fourth) picks this year to Baltimore for the No. 52 (second) and No. 125 (fourth) picks and a 2019 second rounder. While the trade back wasn’t a surprise, getting a future pick rather than an immediate one that would increase the Eagles’ light draft load – they still have only six picks – was unexpected.
Were there prospects the Eagles liked still on the board at No. 32? Sure. But, according to Roseman, there should be enough comparable players available when they select 20 spots later Friday night.
“We had a group of guys at 32 that we would have been really excited about picking,” Roseman said. “Will they be there at 52? I don’t know. But that helped us make the trade because we felt like there was a cluster of guys grouped together for us.”
Roseman said there was interest from other teams looking to trade into the last slot of the first round. The fifth-year option that comes with a first-round pick is an attractive option, particularly for quarterbacks, and the Eagles had identified Lamar Jackson as a commodity should he fall to them.
Pre-draft conversations with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, according to Roseman, had prepared both sides for the likelihood. When the Jaguars at No. 29 and the Patriots at No. 31 – two teams with possibly interest – passed on the Louisville quarterback, the Eagles knew they had at least one trade scenario.
But “there was a bunch of phone calls,” Roseman said. He didn’t specify the other offers, but he equated the Ravens’ 2019 second-round pick offer vs. a 2018 mid-third round one and said there was no comparison.
Asked if it was difficult to balance an immediate payoff that could help the Eagles repeat vs. an impending one that would not have any impact on this season, Roseman said, “We still have a chance to go back to the Super Bowl.” This is a team, after all, that drafted cornerback Sidney Joens in the second round last season even though he was unlikely to play in 2017.
And, yeah, the Eagles still won a championship.
Roseman clearly sees more value in the 2019 draft, and the Eagles now have nine picks in seven rounds – extras in the second and seventh – not to mention several compensatory picks they should receive after losing players in free agency this offseason.
But nothing is certain a year out.
“When we looked ahead last year at this draft a lot of variables change,” Roseman said. “But we thought the strengths of the draft next year were different than the strengths of this draft. … For us, we want to win this year, but we want to continue to win. We want to win in 2018, we want to win in 2019, 2020.”
The Eagles, with no glaring holes on the first team, are in a position in which they don’t have to draft for need. Every team likes to say it takes the best available, but few follow the script to the T. But Roseman said that the Eagles should still be able to get a prospect from one of the positions of strength in the second round.
“The strengths of the draft that came into the draft come into play even more so after you get past the first round,” Roseman said. “… We felt like what we were going to get at 32 was going to be strength throughout tomorrow, as well.”
Mock drafts are mostly mock-worthy, but many of the players predicted to the Eagles are still on the board, especially at positions (running back, defensive back, tight end) that are considered the deepest in the draft.
Here are the best available at each position that would be of interest to the Eagles:
Derrius Guice, LSU
Ronald Jones, Southern Cal
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
The Eagles had Guice in for a pre-draft visit, but NFL scouts have questions about character. He has first-round talent, according to some evaluators, but he’s still waiting for a call. The Eagles would be more willing to expend a second-round pick on a running back.
Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
Josh Jackson, Iowa
Donte Jackson, LSU
The Eagles have young depth at cornerback with Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas and Jones, but Oliver could be a steal if he were to fall to 52.
Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
Justin Reid, Stanford
Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
The Eagles don’t have an immediate need at safety, but they lack depth and Malcolm Jenkins isn’t getting any younger. Reid is versatile and could possibly step into the vacant slot spot and would appear to make the most sense.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
Mike Gesicki, Penn State
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Chris Herndon, Miami
The Eagles have publicly praised the depth at tight end in the draft, but would they be willing to expend their top pick on the position? They still have Zach Ertz, but Trey Burton and Brent Celek are gone. Goedert produced at the FCS-level.
Connor Williams, Texas
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Williams is likely to be gone by 52, but O’Neill has drawn comparisons to Lane Johnson because he’s new to the offensive line. The Eagles would conceivably have time to nurture him.
Courtland Sutton, SMU
Anthony Miller, Memphis
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
James Washington, Oklahoma State
There are some intriguing receivers that could be for the taking in the second round. Miller has the greatest upside. Kirk projects to the slot and has return experience. And Washington could be a sleeper.
Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State
Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
Hurst is a first-round talent, but some teams have reportedly taken him off their boards because of a heart condition. If the Eagles aren’t concerned he could be worth the gamble. He’s a one-gap penetrator who could thrive in Jim Schwartz’s scheme.
Harold Landry, Boston College
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Uchenna Nwosu, Southern Cal
Rasheem Green, Southern Cal
Landry was one of the best available players on most team’s boards as Day 2 opened, and he went quickly to the Titans, who traded up for him.
Will Hernandez, UTEP Austin Corbett, Nevada
Braden Smith, Auburn
All of the Eagles best hopes at offensive guard were off the board in short order.
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Malik Jefferson, Texas
Oren Burks, Vanderbilt
As Roseman noted, there’s a steep drop between the top prospects at certain positions and the second tier. Linebacker appears to fall under that category.