Let’s Make A(nother) Deal
Eagles Trade With Saints Just Beginning Of Active Draft
It’s hard to view the Eagles as anything other than winners in Monday’s trade with the New Orleans Saints that shook up the NFL Draft.
The Eagles sent picks No. 16 overall and No. 19 overall along with a sixth-round pick to the Saints for the 18th pick along with a 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick and a third-round and seventh-round pick in this year’s draft.
This is an impressive haul by Howie Roseman, Eagles executive president of football operations, and only those who truly believed Roseman would’ve made three first-round picks later this month – which was highly unlikely, for reasons both financial and statistical – are disappointed by the move.
The deal ensures that the Eagles can still fulfill their objective of rebuilding the team’s nucleus and infusing the roster with young, dynamic talent while still having ammunition next year if the team needs to find its next cornerstone quarterback.
The Eagles still have five picks in the first three rounds, and still have 10 overall selections. Roseman, whose trigger finger is notoriously itchy during maneuver draft weekend dealer, has enough assets to maneuver up and down the rounds – and you should anticipate that he will.
Next year, he has two first-rounders and a future second to package, if need be, to move up.
The win-win deal safeguards the Eagles in case Jalen Hurts doesn’t develop enough in 2022 to secure the starting job for 2023 and beyond.
If he does, the Eagles will have plenty of assets to use to help surround Hurts with more talent. If he doesn’t, the Eagles are well positioned to find their next guy.
For those who are concerned that Roseman hasn’t done enough this offseason this support Hurts’ development, let’s reserve that judgment until after the draft and final stages of free agency and the trade market.
Some of his most significant acquisitions — signing LeGarrette Blount, trading for Ronald Darby and Jay Ajayi – came well after the opening month of free agency.
As for the Saints, it’s easy to poke fun at general manager Mickey Loomis and surmise that Roseman fleeced his trade partner, but nobody will second-guess New Orleans’ decision if the Saints come out of the draft with a quarterback prospect who fulfills his potential in the post-Drew Brees era.
No price tag is too costly if you land a quarterback who transforms your franchise. The Saints, now with two first-round picks, have the assets to move up for Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis or whichever quarterback checks their boxes.
Three’s A Harm?
Those who were hoping the Eagles would fortify their roster with three first-rounders weren’t seeing the big picture. The history of teams with at least three first-round picks isn’t promising.
Don’t be surprised if Roseman makes another move, too.
Roseman is heavily into analytics and recently talked about the crapshoot nature of the draft, with hit percentage shrinking deeper into the round.
“It goes in the first round, and obviously you can break it down 1 through 10, 11 through 20, 21 through 32, and it’s not like it’s 100 percent,” he said. “I think what [having multiple picks] allows you to do is allows you to have more shots at really good players, really talented players. Gives you more flexibility to move up and down the draft board. It gives you more ammunition to decide if at some point you wanted to trade a pick for a player, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The Dolphins, Raiders, Browns, Vikings and Giants have each made three first-round picks in a draft over the past decade, and all five teams would have to admit to missing on at least one of those first-rounders.
What good is three first-rounders if at least one, and maybe two, don’t pan out?
For the draft, quantity isn’t as valuable as quality. The hit percentage for first-rounders, by many NFL personnel standards, is about 50 to 60 percent, with percentages going higher in the upper half and lower in the second.
At 15, 16 and 19 – the second of three tiers – the Eagles were positioned in that 50- to 55-percent range, which means there’s just as good of a chance at missing on the pick as hitting.
Three years ago, the players who went 15th, 16th and 19th, respectively, were wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (Broncos), cornerback A.J. Terell (Falcons) and cornerback Damon Arnette.
Terrell is coming off an excellent second season with Atlanta, while Jeudy played just 10 games and saw his yards-per-game average drop from his rookie season. Arnette’s legal issues led to him being cut midway through his second season with Las Vegas and released again by the Chiefs.
From 2009 to 2019, at least one player in the 15/16/19 grouping every year has become either an average NFL player or below average/bust, which lends credence to the notion that if you have three-first round picks, you really just have two.
It wouldn’t be shocking if Roseman packaged 15 and 18 to move up into a top-10 slot, an area more ripe for producing Pro Bowl talent, or if he packaged a first-rounder with a Day 2 pick to move slightly up and increase his overall hit percentage.
On Their Radar
Roseman might have to package both first-rounders to bring in Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, the former Cincinnati Bearcat and top overall cornerback prospect who’s expected to go top 10, maybe top five.
The Eagles have shown plenty of interest in Gardner during the pre-draft process and welcome him to the Novacare Complex on Sunday for one of their allotted 30 visits.
Would Roseman use a top-10 pick on a cornerback? He’s never used a first-round pick on a defensive back since taking control of all personnel decisions in 2016. The Eagles haven’t taken a corner in the first round since drafting Lito Sheppard out of Florida in 2002 – almost 20 straight years.
However, Roseman came close last year to moving up for Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain, according to multiple sources. Surtain went to the Broncos at ninth overall. Roseman then moved up from 12th to 10th for Surtain’s college teammate, DeVonta Smith.
If he wants to make more of a modest move up, maybe two or three spots, Roseman could have his eyes on LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. or Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeuax.
Also, don’t rule out the possibility of Roseman sticking at 15 and then using the 18th pick as trade bait to move down to acquire more assets.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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