A disclaimer to begin: I don't know what the Eagles are going to do with this 2015 NFL draft. I don't know how the board looks in the draft room. I think only Jeffrey Lurie, Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz truly know the plan.
That said, it is with great anticipation and excitement that I look forward to the proceedings on Thursday through Saturday and, honestly, the post-draft frenzy of signing players who weren't selected.
The Eagles have eight picks in the seven rounds, including the 20th selection in Round 1. There are some needs for this football team that seem fairly obvious -- the Eagles could use some ooomph at wide receiver, some depth along the offensive line, answers in the secondary. Another pass rusher or two is something that every team desires.
But "obvious" isn't the conversation at this time of the year, not with the usual pre-draft hysteria combined with an offseason of franchise-rattling personnel moves that have been made. The Eagles are mentioned in just about every extraordinary scenario tossed around by the media in the hours leading up to Tampa Bay kicking things off "on the clock."
What's real? What's fantasy? Let's discuss (and remember the disclaimer) ...
- Will the Eagles make the move and trade up for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota? As the hours melt into late Wednesday and into Thursday, that drumbeat continues, ignoring the several references that both head coach Chip Kelly and vice president of player personnel Ed Marynowitz have made about "not mortgaging the future" for any moves. So will the Eagles give up multiple draft picks and possibly multiple players to get to picks 2-6? The perspective here says, "no," but it comes with the above disclaimer and the caveat that nobody can rule out anything with Kelly, certainly not after the way this offseason has gone. The Eagles are really pleased with Sam Bradford at quarterback. He's at the NovaCare Complex every day in the offseason program. He is working hard. He is going to be an outstanding fit in this offense when he gets healthy.
- What are the Eagles considering should they stay at 20? There are a lot of options and the names you hear are Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones, multiple wide receivers, Alabama safety Landon Collins and many more. Nobody knows. Who do the Eagles like? Who do they love? Only a few men know. The Eagles have visited with 60 players both at the NFL Combine and at the NovaCare Complex in the last few months. They've got their board stacked. They know what they want and who they desire. From here, it seems more likely that the Eagles will stay put at 20 or move out of 20 to gain more draft picks, but how can anyone truly know at this point? I'm not sure, honestly, that Chip Kelly no doubt, 100 percent, knows who he is going to select until the time comes for the Eagles to be on the clock.
- How active will the Eagles be in the trade market? Could be very active, actually. Kelly has made it clear that he's open to making moves. He has his vision for what he wants this 2015 roster to look like. The Eagles have changed out key positions throughout the offseason. There may be some trades made in the three-day draft window as the Eagles deal a veteran or two or three and get back some draft picks. There may be chances for the Eagles to gain a veteran player to fill a need on this roster. I think the trade portion of the weekend could be quite active. No specifics. I just think that Kelly has his plan firmly in place and knows the players he is interesting in moving or those he may want to acquire from other teams.
- How big will next year's draft play in the next three days? Could be significant. How valuable is acquiring a high draft pick next year -- remember, the Eagles sent their second-round draft pick to the Rams in the deal that brought Bradford here -- for either a pick or a player now? It's something to keep an eye on.
- A bold prediction from me: I think Kelly plays it fairly conservatively within each round in terms of moving draft picks. He wants to add draft picks, not deal them away.
- It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the Eagles pass on the quarterback position in this draft. I think they're pleased with what they have here. Bradford and Mark Sanchez are 1-2 -- Sanchez will compete for the starting job and that's a fair mindset for him to have -- and then Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley are battling for No. 3. G.J. Kinne is in the mix as well, and he'll try to earn a roster spot any way he can, even if that means he's a special teams, jack-of-all-trades player.
In the end, though, I don't know what the plan of attack is going to be. From this vantage point, the Eagles could use some help at wide receiver, on the offensive line, in the secondary and even on the edge rushing the passer. Kelly wants to improve every corner of his roster, rightfully so.
The winds are whipping and the rumors are flying and it's almost here. The draft is the exclamation point for a wild offseason, with three days to improve the foundation of the roster through the draft. I don't know what will happen. You don't know, either. That's why it's so much fun, to see the plan come into focus within the frenzy of an NFL draft weekend.