Weekend Reading: Eagles Still Want A QB

Plus, more on the growing link between the Eagles and Ezekiel Elliott.

Photo | Jeff Fusco.

Photo | Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles appeared to have a plan. Shore up the defense in free agency. Sign Chase Daniel to mentor a blue-chip quarterback in the draft. Trade up to ensure this quarterback would be an Eagle.

And then the Rams trade happened.

Naturally, the national and local media had a lot to say about where the Eagles might be headed.

ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan assures us that the Eagles interest in the first overall pick was no smoke-screen.

Don’t let the change in the facts change the narrative. The Philadelphia Eagles have been very interested in selecting a quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft. They still are.

There is a temptation to paint the Eagles’ QB-related activities as some kind of smoke screen. By appearing interested in a quarterback, the logic goes, the Eagles created urgency for other teams to do whatever necessary to move up and assure themselves of a shot at Carson Wentz or Jared Goff.

That urgency led the Los Angeles Rams to trade a bonanza of draft picks to Tennessee to move up to No. 1. And that will help the Eagles by making another high-rated player available when they draft with the No. 8 overall pick.

Sounds good, but it doesn’t really make sense. The Eagles have spent a considerable amount of time and money studying the draft’s top quarterbacks. They traveled to San Francisco, South Dakota and Tennessee. Then they brought the top QB prospects to Philadelphia for visits.

Jeff McLane examines the state of the Eagles’ quarterback hunt in the wake of the Rams’ trade to number one overall.

A year ago, Chip Kelly drove into the franchise-quarterback neighborhood, queued up the prices on his Realtor.com app, and after realizing what it would cost to move up into the tony section of the draft, shrunk into his car and headed back to the 20th-pick zip code.

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson took that trip again this year, but while they passed on the richest house on the block, they have not left the neighborhood altogether. In fact, the Eagles may still have an opportunity to snatch their coveted quarterback even though the Rams vaulted into the top spot Thursday.

There are two ways to read Roseman and Pederson’s reluctance to pull the trigger: (1) They didn’t believe their top-rated quarterback was worth that much, or (2) they believe they can still get either quarterback by trading up – and surrendering less – or standing pat.

If Goff was the Eagles’ No. 1 guy, and the Rams draft him, well, all bets are off – unless Wentz rates comparably. It could be said that they should have paid whatever the cost for Goff or Wentz, but the Eagles’ need for a quarterback isn’t as great. They have Bradford under contract for another two years, after all.

Delaware Online’s Martin Frank takes a sardonic look at one possible reason the Eagles lost to the Rams in the chase for the number one pick.

Oh, the irony.

There the Eagles were, in the running to trade up to the top spot in the upcoming NFL draft to get the quarterback of their dreams, when the Los Angeles Rams surpassed them by offering, among several other draft picks, the second-round pick the Eagles traded to them last year to get quarterback Sam Bradford.

In other words, the Eagles couldn’t get their quarterback of the future because they were hamstrung by their coach of the past in Chip Kelly who left them with their quarterback of the present.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirmed as much when he told ProFootballTalk.com that the second-round pick from the Eagles made the difference in the deal with Tennessee for the No. 1 pick. In all, the Rams gave up six draft picks — first-round picks this year and next, two second-round picks this year, and third-round picks this year and next.

If the Eagles don’t select a quarterback in the first round, Ezekiel Elliot could very well be their pick. The Eagles-Elliott connection has certainly seemed to be heating up as of late. Chase Goodbread of NFL.com elaborates on how the relationship could be mutually beneficial.

As the top running back prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, Ezekiel Elliott has been through his share of private workouts, pre-draft visits and all manner of evaluation from plenty of NFL clubs.

But it’s the Philadelphia Eagles who seem to Elliott to be the most interested, according to ESPN.

And why wouldn’t they be? There was speculation that the Eagles could be targeting Elliott when they swapped first-round picks with the Dolphins in a trade last month.

After ranking 14th in the NFL in rushing last season with 109 yards per game, it’s certainly an area that could use an upgrade, particularly since the club executed a trade last month that jettisoned running back DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans. As well, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman debunked the devaluation of the running back position last month.

But Bill Barnwell warns against drafting a running back so early on.

It’s almost always better to trade down and acquire extra picks than it is to think that you’re smarter than the crowd and target a player at the top of the draft at a given position. While the players at the top of drafts are unquestionably talented, they just don’t seem to succeed at a disproportionately high rate given their pedigree coming into the league. And while Elliott might look like a perfect prospect as he comes into the league, teams drafting in the top 10 are likely better off remembering what they know about running backs and shop for ball carriers in the later rounds.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal sees the Eagles as on the fringe of contention next season.
Philadelphia makes the biggest leap of this group in free agency after a boffo free agency period. It boasts a defensive roster that has talent at all three levels. If the team can get Sam Bradford (or Chase Daniel) playing at a league-average quarterback level, they can be back in the playoffs.
ESPN’s Mike Sando came up with a list of NFL Trades That Should Happen. Here is what he had for the Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles to the Philadelphia Eagles or Miami Dolphins for a 2016 third-round choice: 
The Chiefs fared just fine without Charles last season and they could move him without incurring dead money against their salary cap. Charles turned 29 in December and is coming off knee surgery, so it’s not clear how much he would command in a trade. A highly motivated Charles could carry appeal through 2017, the final year of a contract carrying base salaries of $2.75 million (2016) and $3.75 million (2017).
Charles’ connection to new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson makes Philadelphia a logical trading partner following DeMarco Murray’s departure from the roster. The Eagles also own two third-round choices, while the Chiefs lost theirs when the NFL handed down punishment for tampering with Jeremy Maclin.
Gil Brandt ranked the top 16 late round draft picks of all time. Trent Cole made the list at 13.

Drafted: Round 5 (No. 146 overall) in 2005 by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Teams: Eagles, 2005-2014; Indianapolis Colts, 2015-present.

When he was coming out of college, the question about Cole was, Is he big enough to play end or fast enough to drop into space? He was a pretty good athlete, posting a 37.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine. The two-time Pro Bowler has 88.5 career sacks and 21 forced fumbles, and he has four seasons of double-digit sacks on his résumé. He’s a classic ‘tweener who got his weight up enough that he was able to play defensive end, an athletic guy who can rush the passer.

Chad Reuter re-picked the first round of the 2014 draft.

Pick: Marcus Smith

Do-over: Greg Robinson

With Jason Peters nearing the end of a fantastic career with the Bills and Eagles, picking up a talent like Robinson would be a great investment. Smith has yet to start a game in his career, and has just 1.5 sacks in 21 contests.