PHILADELPHIA — Projecting what the Philadelphia Eagles will do at No. 25 overall in the this week’s NFL draft might be in vain, given that they’re more likely to trade out of that position than not, according to past practice.
Howie Roseman, the team’s wxecutive vice president of football operations, is not one to sit still, and that includes in the first round. He has been in charge of personnel decisions for eight Eagles drafts. The team has stayed put in the first round on just three occasions, with Roseman orchestrating trades to move up three times and opting to fall back twice.
Philly’s positioning in this year’s draft increases the odds he will shake things up once again. Roseman noted that a 15-year study conducted by the Eagles shows “there is a breakoff in the talent level where you can get a difference-maker in the first round. There are very few drafts where there are 32 legitimate first-round grades on guys. And so for us, we just kind of look at that opportunity in the draft to get a difference-maker each year — your home-run difference-maker — which is hard to find.”
He has previously said that the typical range for finding such a player is at picks Nos. 1 through 20.
If the players the Eagles have identified as blue-chippers are all scooped up early, look for them to move back and add to their cache of picks. But if one drops into striking distance? Like within five spots or so? Roseman won’t be shy about moving up to snag his guy.
Here are three players who make sense for the Eagles in both a trade-up and trade-back scenario:
If Eagles trade up from No. 25
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Brown would seem to be the definition of a “home-run difference-maker.” Compared mostly to DeSean Jackson, he averaged more than 18 yards per reception during his two seasons at Oklahoma, using his blazing speed and exceptional ball-tracking skills to wreak havoc deep. Last season, he racked up more than 1,300 yards with 10 touchdowns on 75 receptions.
He’s 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds and is coming off a foot injury, which could knock him into Philly’s range. While not without some risk, the reward could be landing a game-changing deep threat who could make Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz‘s life easier for years to come. It’s possible Brown makes it to No. 25. The question is: If Philly really wants him, is it worth the gamble?
Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
Joe Douglas, the team’s vice president of player personnel, had an interesting response when asked whether the Eagles view Ford as a guard or tackle at the next level.
“We have a spot where he’ll most likely start off,” Douglas said last week, “but you gotta stay tuned.”
Douglas preceded that comment by complimenting Ford for his versatility and strength and saying the team had “done a lot of work” on him. The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Ford could serve as an interior lineman to start (right guard Brandon Brooks is currently recovering from an Achilles injury) and potentially slide out to tackle down the road.
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Difference-making edge rushers don’t last long in the draft. The fact that this is a deep defensive line class might allow someone like Ferrell, who doesn’t test off the charts athletically, to slip. The Eagles would be happy to land a polished pass-rusher who compiled 27 sacks in his final three seasons at Clemson. History says the Eagles are most likely to walk away with an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round.
If Eagles trade back from No. 25
Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Ferguson set an FBS record with 45 career sacks. Some evaluators have a second-round grade on him, but given the value this league puts on pass-rushers, it might be best to secure him in the back end of the first round or early in the second.
Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
There is a plausible scenario in which a few quality defensive tackles (Tillery, Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence) make it to the latter stages of Round 1. If that’s the case, the Eagles could stay put or slide back a touch and still walk away with an impact D-lineman.
Juan Thornhill, DB, Virginia
One of the Eagles’ top-30 visits, Thornhill has both safety and cornerback in his background. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz values versatility, and the Eagles need to start thinking about finding successors to safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.