Time to start guessing. In three weeks, and after the Eagles figure out a way to parlay 12 draft picks into whatever combination that best serves the team's roster, we can go position by position and analyze. For now, we can only speculate, because while the rest of the world reports that this prospect is visiting and that prospect has a workout lined up with the Eagles in attendance, we don't know how much of this is pre-draft bunk and how much of it is going to be remembered on draft weekend.
Twelve picks. The Eagles can move up into the top 10 if they desire. Who has to be there at, say, eight overall to intrigue the team enough to make such a dramatic move? The Eagles could use a second- or third-round pick in addition to No. 28 overall and go up to the teens and get somebody, too. For who? For what?
Should the Eagles make the move to go up, they would do so to get a player whom they expect to make an immediate impact, a right-now starter. That's an exciting prospect.
Or the Eagles could stay where they are and take the best players at 21 and 28. If you believe the mock drafts, which change every week, the Eagles will have a chance to take Knowshon Moreno (yes!) at 21 and then either a wide receiver, an offensive lineman or, well, the best of the rest at 28.
It's tough writing at this time of the year. The Eagles' decision makers are behind closed doors every day working through their reports, sifting through the mounds of information on each draft prospect and keeping the lines of communication open should a trade become available.
I guess I'm starting to think that something major is going to happen on draft weekend, either through a trade to vault up in the first round or through a trade to acquire a veteran player. I will say that I don't expect the Eagles to trade for one of the wide receivers said to be on the market. I just don't see it. I genuinely believe the Eagles think they have a good group of receivers. I think the team wants to concentrate its efforts to improve other positions that are greater in need. Is, for example, bringing in a quality running back more important than a wide receiver who may not be a huge upgrade over what the Eagles have?
I'm not that much different than you at this point. I would love to know the plan, but I also know that the team only have about two dozen options right now, and there is no way to predict what is going to happen. Do you think the Eagles knew three weeks before each of the last two drafts that they would trade out of the first round? No way. Last year's trade came right down to those 10 minutes when the Eagles were on the clock, when they had an offer from Carolina that they felt they could absolutely not refuse.
I do know this: By the end of draft weekend, the roster is going to be largely complete. A trade later down the way, or a waiver-wire pickup is certainly possible. And it has happened many times in the past. But the Eagles' plan is to attack this draft, to do a great job of addressing needs and of emerging with a handful of players who can step on the field in 2009 and play and help this team win the Super Bowl.
My Wish List? Sure, for now ...
Moreno, Beanie Wells, Donald Brown, Andre Brown, etc. It is a good group of backs, and the Eagles are looking for a top-shelf talent who can complement Brian Westbrook and who can be a big-play maker in the offense. I loved Correll Buckhalter, but the Eagles can absolutely upgrade this position.
I'm expecting the Eagles to draft a running back fairly early. Maybe they do it on day one. Maybe they hit other spots then and come back early on day two and address running back right away.
I'm expecting an upgrade here, not a lateral move. I'm expecting the Eagles to take a player on draft weekend whom they think can be a starter someday. It is a good year to draft a running back, which is why the Eagles stayed away in free agency.
I see a couple of options. Either the Eagles draft a tackle with the expectation that he can play right away, or they move Shawn Andrews or Todd Herremans to left tackle and draft an interior lineman to compete with Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles for playing time at guard.
The draftniks say that the premier left tackles will be taken among the top 6-7-8 picks, so if the Eagles trade up into that range, maybe one of those players is the target. There is so much uncertainty going on at the top of the draft that it is impossible to predict who those first 10 picks will go.
I've said this before and I will say it now: Offensive line is in much better shape than those on the outside believe. The Eagles have Andrews ready to go, they have Stacy Andrews expected to be ready to play in training camp, they have depth with Cole and Jean-Gilles and they have some young linemen whom they have drafted in recent years ready to make a move.
This is a position very much the same as the running back spot. Brent Celek is the starter, but there is also no reason he can't be challenged. The tight ends are creating a buzz, especially the group expected to be taken in rounds 2-4. What happens if Brandon Pettigrew is on the board at 21 or at 28? Could the Eagles pass on the best tight end, the only one said to be a good receiver and a good blocker? It's going to be interesting if the Eagles are presented with that scenario.
Regardless, the Eagles have to address the position behind Celek. The young man came on strong in 2008 and is expected to take another step in 2009. He has good instincts, good hands, is tough with the ball and knows he has to improve as a blocker. Another weapon here will make this a very strong position.
From a draft perspective, the only super, superstar is Michael Crabtree. He is expected to be a top 10 pick, maybe even a top five selection. Would the Eagles go up and get Crabtree if he is still there at 6-8?
I don't think he will be there, but we'll see. Instead, the Eagles have a plethora of receivers rated behind Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin from which to choose. Maclin, in fact, might be the best pick of them all because he is a dynamic return man, and the Eagles are going to need one if they use DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps as starters in the offense and defense, respectively.
Barring a trade for an established receiver, which I just am not holding my breath on, the Eagles need to add a receiver who can help the return game. Whether than is day one or not, it is a need for this team.
The Eagles have three good ones in Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Joselio Hanson. But they have questions about the candidates for that fourth spot, so more quality competition couldn't hurt. If the Eagles bring in a cornerback on Day 1, I will admit to being surprised and then will wonder just what the next step would be.
Cornerback is a pretty good group in this draft. It makes sense to snoop around the position and see if the right fit can be drafted. Cornerback is a vital position, and the Eagles know they can't have enough good ones on this roster.
This is on my personal list, and it is niche need. I would love the Eagles to have a fourth tackle who is a big body, who can stop the run in short-yardage situations, who can be used for 10-12 quality snaps a game.
This is not a huge priority at all. The Eagles are three-deep at tackle, and they are all quality players. Dan Klecko is back at tackle and is going to try to make the team at 285 pounds of hustle and bustle. I'm just wondering, with all of these draft picks, if the Eagles can locate a mass guy to play tackle and help with a different look for the defense.
Other needs? Maybe a linebacker, but I really like this group. A pass rusher? I think the Eagles are going to be hard pressed to find anything better in this draft than what they have now. Punter? Yeah, I've read that the Eagles are paying attention to this group, so maybe one of those 12 picks goes to a player who can challenge Sav Rocca.
Anything can happen. In three weeks, anything will happen. And a roster that has some pieces missing now will be just about complete, and then we can talk about what the Eagles are, rather than what they might be.