Eagles have a history of unpredictable draft moves

Howie Roseman says the Eagles are open to all draft options.
Howie Roseman says the Eagles are open to all draft options.
Posted: April 28, 2011

Whatever the Eagles plan to do with the 23d pick in Thursday's draft, recent history says it will be surprising and less conventional than simply waiting to choose from the remaining talent when their turn rolls around.

In each of the last four years, the Eagles either have moved up - hopping 11 spots in 2010 to get Brandon Graham and two in 2009 to snag Jeremy Maclin - or dropped down to accumulate more picks, trading out of the first round in 2008 and 2007.

"We're open to explore any options that we think make us better, whether that's moving up, moving down, we're definitely open," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. He took a moment before adding, "Or picking."

Roseman has strongly hinted at moving back and adding talent with more picks, though cases also could be made for going up to grab a stud cornerback, defensive end, or offensive lineman.

Which is to say it's still a guessing game when it comes to where the Eagles will draft Thursday, if at all, and whom they will target.

In the case of Graham and Maclin, few prognosticators, if any, linked the team to either player.

A far safer bet is that in early rounds the Eagles won't be looking at quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, positions where the team is loaded with talent due to a string of big draft hits and the signing of Michael Vick.

In recent days, The Inquirer has examined draft moves that have contributed to roster weaknesses. Still, it's worth noting that the Eagles have built a playoff team on the back of an explosive offense featuring Vick and successful recent picks DeSean Jackson (second round, 2008), Jeremy Maclin (first round, 2009), and LeSean McCoy, a 2009 second rounder whom Roseman said the team graded as a first-round talent.

The Eagles have found quality from late-round skill players as well, including Jason Avant (fourth round, 2006), Brent Celek (fifth round, 2007), and Riley Cooper (fifth round, 2010).

After years of struggling to pick big-time wide receivers, the Eagles have so much offensive talent they can hardly squeeze it onto the field at one time. Roseman said the team examined leaguewide successes and failures at the position to improve its picks.

"That's a great example of a position that we had a chance to go back, study, as we do at all these positions, and put those studies into practical use," Roseman said.

With the offensive skill spots set, the Eagles need complements on the offensive line and throughout the defense.

If they trade back, they likely will focus on the offensive and defensive lines, where the draft is deepest.

If they want a topflight cornerback, they will have to pay steeply to move up high enough, possibly into the top 10, to get Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. After him, questions abound.

A more modest, and less costly, move up could put the Eagles within reach of players such as pass rushing defensive ends Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) and Aldon Smith (Missouri) or defensive tackle Corey Liuget (Illinois).

Right tackle Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, considered the best offensive lineman who could play right away, might be available toward the middle of the first round.

If the Eagles stay at 23, they may have a decision to make on Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, whose supreme talent is matched by worries about his behavior. Other potential picks at that slot include mauling offensive tackle Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin and versatile Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

Of course, choosing at 23 would mean the Eagles' taking an ordinary approach to the draft. That in itself would be a surprise.

Eagles Draft Order

The Eagles have 10 picks in the 2011 draft, the second-highest total in the NFL behind San Francisco's 12.

Rd.     Overall    Origin

1         23      Own pick

2         54       Own pick

3         85       Own pick

4       104       Acquired    from Washington in 2010 Donovan McNabb trade

4       120       Own pick

5       149       Acquired

from San Diego in 2010 trade

5      153       Own pick

7      227       Acquired

from Seattle in the 2010 Stacy Andrews trade

7      237   

   Compensatory pick

7      240   

   Compensatory pick

Compensatory picks

cannot be traded.


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanTamari

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