The teams that win this weekend are the ones who have used their offseason time the best, who have prepared for the most scenarios. Let's take a moment to answer some questions that everyone has at this most unusual period of time in the NFL …
Can The Eagles Make Trades During Draft?
Yes, they can. At this point in time, though, they can only trade draft picks from this year and next year to maneuver in the 2011 NFL draft. Expect the Eagles to work deals, if history is an indicator. The team has made 16 draft-weekend trades in the last couple of drafts, and they like to work the draft and accumulate players.
At this point, however, no team is permitted to trade veteran players. So all of the speculation about quarterback Kevin Kolb and his future is just that – speculation. It has been a primary story throughout the offseason, but there is nothing the Eagles can do to make those kinds of trades until the NFL begins its league year.
Now, it's possible that the league could open for business at some point on Wednesday, or even on Thursday prior to the start of the draft, but there are legal hurdles to clear first. So, for now, the expectation is that no veterans will be traded before, during or immediately after the draft.
How Will The Eagles Play The First Round?
Only a handful of people really know, and they aren't saying a thing. The Eagles have plenty of options and they intend to exercise every one of them. They could very well trade up into the teens if there is a player there they like. They could stay at No. 23 overall. They could move back later into the first round or into the second round.
I've been asked a bunch these last few days who the Eagles are going to draft. I really, honestly, truly don't know. They can go defense. They can go offensive line. They can shock the world and take another position, knowing they have nine more draft picks after round one and an anticipated free-agency period in which to add more talent.
I'll be on the edge of my seat, same as you. I don't know what to expect in the first round on Thursday night.
What Are The Positions Of Need?
This has been discussed for many weeks. The picture hasn't changed. The Eagles need to upgrade throughout the defense, and I would rank the right cornerback spot, the safety positions and defensive end right at the top of the list. There are questions at linebacker as well, and the Eagles figure to add a couple to the mix before it's all said and done in the offseason.
Offensively, the line needs to be fortified, particularly the right guard spot. Otherwise, the Eagles have a lot of pieces in place on that side of the ball.
It isn't likely the team is going to concentrate only on the need list we set out prior to the seven rounds of the draft. The Eagles are going to go with the best players on their board. They are going to trust their scouts and have faith that their improved coaching staff will improve each and every player on this roster for 2011 and beyond.
In What Other Ways Can The Eagles Improve?
It is fair to anticipate that the Eagles will look for impact additions when free agency opens, whenever that happens. The Eagles know that there are going to be a lot of veterans looking for jobs, no matter the structure of free agency.
Philadelphia is a team for which players are going to want to play. The city, the facilities, the winning tradition, the coaching staff and the roster are all draws. What outstanding defensive lineman, for example, wouldn't want to play for Jim Washburn? What offensive player wouldn't want to be in a system where everybody gets touches and is productive? The Eagles have it going on, and the fans' tremendous passion is a huge reason for that. Players want to perform in front of these fans.
So just a word of caution: Don't judge the Eagles until the team reports to training camp, and even then understand that Andy Reid and Howie Roseman are looking for ways to upgrade the roster. They are always looking for ways to make this team better.
Draft weekend should be one to remember, that's for sure. The picture is certainly incomplete, even as we close in the proceedings. The Eagles aren't tipping their hand, perhaps because they truly don't know what to expect in this highly unpredictable NFL draft, 2011.