Philadelphia Eagles: Draft week, how will it go?


It’s the week of the draft, y’all!

And for a team picking in the back-half of the first round, the Philadelphia Eagles are at the center of a whole lot of discussion.

The way I see it, it could go one of about five ways:

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The Eagles trade up and draft Marcus Mariota.

The Eagles stay put and take the best player on their board at #20.

The Eagles back up because they have a large group of players all graded in the same area and add extra pick-value.

The Eagles move up (more modestly) to target a non-Mariota player at a pick before #20.

The Eagles, failing to acquire Mariota, quit the league and Chip Kelly founds the CKFL with the Oregon Ducks as charter members.

I’m going to take a quick glance at each of those scenarios. Well. Four of them.

If the Eagles trade up for Mariota, it could go a few different ways:

They could, as many do, buy into the Titan-generated hype surrounding Mariota and feel the pressing need to get all the way to #2. They will give up a lot. And, despite the endless analysis and criticism (I’ll write at least forty articles about it, myself) the move’s value will depend, entirely, on how Mariota develops in the NFL. There is no amount the Eagles could give up that is too much… if Mariota, as Kelly has said,  will ‘win multiple Super Bowls.’

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Or they could be patient. Decide that it’s not worth the move to #2 and see where Mariota falls. It’s not as dangerous as it might seem: The Eagles would simply need to make sure every team on the clock is aware that they’d be willing to top any offer to move up. So if Mariota is sitting at #4 or #5 or if he gets beyond the Jets at #6… no team would pull the trigger on a deal without giving Chip a call first.

When a team like the Vikings is on the clock at #11… if Mariota has lasted… the Eagles could acquire him for far less than anyone’s expecting right now.

This would clearly be a dream scenario. But not an unfathomable one: I still believe there are teams that worry about taking Mariota too high. Teams that worry about his transition to the NFL. If it will take too long and have too many bumps along the way. Remember: coaches and GMs (especially of bad teams) have a shelf life. And they know it. They need players that will provide impact quickly, otherwise by the time the player’s ready to contribute… he’ll be doing it under new management.

If a couple of choice teams (Titans, Jets, Browns) have such concerns about Mariota? He could find himself waiting to hear his name called well into the teens.

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota throws a pass during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s happened to better players (Aaron Rodgers) and bigger names (Johnny Manziel) in very recent memory.

Despite everything you read… I promise that a Mariota slide is not out of the question.

That said? I’m not sure the Eagles will let that scenario play out. If they truly want Mariota? They’ve long-since decided what they’re willing to give up to get all the way to the top of the draft.

And their trigger-man? Is hard to read.

If the Eagles stay put? They’ll find a number of attractive options on the board.

But probably not a difference maker. At least by their own definition.

VP of Player Personnel, Ed Marynowitz, spoke to the media last week and echoed what we’ve heard from other organizations regarding this draft: There are roughly 8-10 difference makers.

If most teams agree on this number… and if we assume that there’s a good amount of overlap among teams as to who these 8-10 players are? Well, the chances of one landing at #20 is fairly unlikely.

Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Connecticut Huskies defensive back Byron Jones catches a pass in a work out drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

But it won’t be like last year. 2014 was a sort of nightmare first round for the Eagles: Every player the Eagles had targeted came flying off the board (including three in the four picks before the Eagles went on the clock) and they were forced to trade back because there simply wasn’t anyone they were excited about taking at #22.

The options will be better in 2015. The Eagles have worked out (and brought in) a number of players that seem like scheme and need fits that all hold reasonable value at pick #20. Guys like Kevin Johnson, Byron Jones, La’el Collins, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Jaelen Strong. I strongly believe that at least one of those players will fall to the Eagles at #20.

But that’s no guarantee they take him. If the Eagles have one of those players graded out as equal or roughly equal to a few other guys at the same position?

Or if more than one or two of those guys are still on the board at #20?

The team could certainly trade back a few spots, pick up a mid-round pick (like the 4th they lost to St. Louis) and rest assured that they’d still get a guy they want in the late 20s.

I admit that this seems more like a business-minded move… a Howie Roseman move… than it does like a football-minded one.

Roseman executed such a move last year. And there aren’t a lot of folks who’re happy with the results so far (give Marcus Smith another year before you write him off.)

Chip Kelly is in full command now. And I’d actually be surprised if he moved back so strategically. I think Kelly, like most coaches, has some players in mind that he’d love to coach. And he simply wants to make sure that the Eagles get a few.

But what about a move in the other direction?

Well, what did I just say?

I think Chip Kelly’s got a few players in his mind. Guys he’d love to have in Philly. Guys about whom he feels like he did about Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.

And, this year, he doesn’t have Howie Roseman perched on his shoulder with a gown and a halo making sure he does the responsible thing.

Kelly said, to no one’s surprise, that he loved Beckham last year. Thought he was the best player in the draft.

But when asked if he was disappointed not to have traded up and snagged Beckham before the Giants could take him at #12? His answer was telling:

“I didn’t have final say so, I mean, you always defer to who’s in charge.”

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This year… Kelly’s in charge. And if he feels about Amari Cooper or Dante Fowler or anyone else… the way he felt about Beckham last year? And if that player falls into a range where making a trade up from #20 wouldn’t require an incredible sum?

Kelly may very well take a shot.

Those are merely possibilities. Ways things could go.

As for my take on how it will shake out?

I think Marcus Mariota is the likeliest player in this draft to be an Eagle when the weekend is over.

I, like many, just believe that Chip Kelly will find a way to get it done. I think he wants Mariota. I think he believes he can win with Mariota. And most of all:

I think he’s less conventional than anyone else who might be vying to get Marcus Mariota. He’d be willing to give up more without caring, for a moment, what anyone thinks.

The caveat? If the Tennessee Titans (or Tampa Bay Buccaneers for that matter) believe that Marcus Mariota can be their franchise quarterback… then no one’s getting that pick. Not for anything.

In that case? I believe the Eagles will still look to trade up. With players like Trae Waynes and Amari Cooper as their targets.

If that doesn’t work out? I believe the Eagles will stay put and take Byron Jones (if he’s available.)

And if Jones is gone? And La’El Collins? And Kevin Johnson? And Agholor?

Well… then I’ll be buying season tickets to watch the Oregon Ducks play in the CKFL next year.

Next: Should the Eagles Make the Trade?

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