We know where the Eagles are going at No. 2: They're taking the best quarterback on the board, either Jared Goff from Cal or Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. Once Los Angeles makes its pick at No. 1 and takes a quarterback, the Eagles are taking one immediately after. That's etched in pencil. What about after the first round? What can the Eagles do to maximize this draft?
The reality is that the Eagles need to make an impact in this draft, starting with their first pick. Clearly, they are banking on drafting a quarterback who has franchise-level ability and who will then get the right kind of coaching from a quarterback-friendly staff and work hard to reach his highest ceiling of performance. It is a projection, to be sure, but for a team that has not won a playoff game since 2008 and that has been taking a short-term approach – from necessity – at quarterback, the idea of getting a quarterback to guide the franchise for the next 10 to 12 seasons is, obviously, too much to pass on.
Beyond that, there are needs the Eagles have and opportunities to address them. Some scenarios to consider …
Can The Eagles Move Into The Second Round?
It would be very, very difficult to do. The Eagles traded away their second-round draft pick in the Sam Bradford trade a year ago and they traded away a third-round choice (77 overall) to move up to No. 2 in the first round. Trading away future high draft picks for a second-round selection this year is tough to do. Sending a veteran player to a team is a possibility, but NFL teams cherish their draft picks and are reluctant to deal for veterans and big contracts.
So you can pretty much scratch the idea. After making the pick at No. 2 overall, the Eagles are likely going to have to wait for a very long time before they are on the clock again, with the 79th overall pick that comes in the third round.
And With That Third-Round Pick, The Eagles Select …
There are going to be players with starting-level ability at No. 79, so the Eagles are going to have options. They can stay put and address the offensive line, or the defensive side of the ball. They know the strength of the draft is going to give them a chance to take a player at this spot to compete right away for playing time.
Or Howie Roseman can see just how valuable this draft pick can be. Maybe there is a player on the board another team covets enough to offer a deal that enables the Eagles to add another draft pick to its 2016 numbers.
What Can Eagles Do With Two Fifth-Round Selections?
Tight end Brent Celek and cornerback Nolan Carroll are two starting-level players on the current roster who were fifth-round draft picks. There are plenty of other examples of fifth-round draft picks making their way into starting, and starring, roles. Even if they don't become starters, many fifth-round selections gain playing time and contribute.
So the Eagles have two of them, Nos. 153 and 164 overall, and Roseman and his personnel department have to nail the picks. Then again …
We know how Roseman can make deals. Is there somebody who will be on the board in the third or fourth round who he wants? Could he package the fifth-round picks and move up in the draft's third or fourth round?
There is considerable value with two fifth-round draft picks. Roseman's goal is to maximize that value and continue to help this roster.
In Rounds Six And Seven, The Eagles Have Three Picks
With one draft pick in the sixth round and two in the seventh, the Eagles are looking for players to challenge the roster. The current roster has former sixth-round draft picks like center Jason Kelce, running back Kenjon Barner, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner and cornerbacks JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans, both of whom will push for roster spots this year. Seventh-round hits on the current roster include punter Donnie Jones and defensive tackle Beau Allen.
OK, so the odds are tough to overcome. Late-round draft picks like this don't often yield high-level players, but this is where the really good drafts can be defined. Hitting on picks in the latter rounds round out good drafts and often push them into the "great" category.
The point is this: The Eagles are in the business starting Thursday of making this draft impactful not only for the future – in the instance of taking either Goff or Wentz at No. 2 – but also for the present starting with the 79th overall selection. There are going to be good football players on the board throughout the draft and after – on this roster, by the way, neither future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters nor newly signed safety Rodney McLeod, to name two, were drafted.
So the Eagles have to be good, very good, in this draft. They've got seven draft picks as it stands now and the intention is to add to a roster that has been upgraded with some smart movement in free agency. It all starts on Thursday, and while the attention is mostly aimed right now at the first-round pick, the Eagles know they have chances for hits all the way through the draft and beyond.