While all the mock drafts we list in this space project who the Eagles will take with the No. 4 pick, another possibility exists: They trade down.
It’s an option that makes plenty of sense, and the organization has been more than willing to deal in the past. Consider this: The Eagles have made a first-round trade in five of the past six drafts.
This year’s class is not considered top-heavy, and the Eagles are coming off a 4-12 season. If they can grab an extra pick or two to slide down and still get a player they covet, Howie Roseman could definitely consider the option.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com recently put out a list of the three teams most likely to trade down, and he included the Birds:
Philly already addressed several of its needs in the offseason. The Eagles added experienced starters to all three levels of their defense via free agency. The offensive line should be drastically improved, as long as key players like Jason Peters and Jason Kelce return to form following injuries in 2012. There is still a question mark at quarterback, but there isn’t a glaring weakness at another position that could only be addressed with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Eagles could easily slide down a few slots and still get an impact player who fits into their new defensive scheme.
The obvious follow-up question here is: Which teams might be interested in trading up?
Jeremiah addresses that too, listing the Dolphins (No. 12 overall), the Vikings (Nos. 23 and 25) and the 49ers (No. 31). The Cardinals (No. 7) and Chargers (No. 11) also get a mention.
The key will be who’s available at No. 4. Offensive tackle is a an area to watch. It’s widely expected that either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher will be gone by the time the Eagles pick. And it’s possible that both players get taken in the top three. But if one of them is available, the Birds could receive some calls.
There is also the question of who the Eagles might target if they do move down. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said earlier this offseason that the early picks probably won’t be much different than picks 20 or 25. The sense I get from the Eagles is that they partially agree with that statement, but aren’t willing to go as far as Mayock. In other words, there might not be a huge difference among the first 10 or 12 guys, but after that, there is a gap.
I could see someone like Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson grabbing the Eagles’ attention. The 6-foot-6, 303-pounder is the most athletic of the top-three tackles. He’s still expected to be a top-12 pick, but maybe the Eagles could move back and still land him.
Tavon Austin is a wild card. Many teams in the bottom half of the first round could be looking to move up to grab him. I’ve got to think Chip Kelly wouldn’t mind his first pick as the Eagles’ head coach to be on the class’ most dynamic offensive playmaker.
Defensively, there really are several options. Guys like Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Utah DL Star Lotulelei and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner could be top-five picks, or they could slip. All three could be fits for the Eagles as they rebuild their defense.
In a later post, we’ll explore potential compensation the Eagles could net for moving down, but clearly, sliding down is an option for them.