They wait at the NovaCare Complex. They work the telephones, discuss last-minute scenarios and march forward with their plan, staying open to any last-minute opportunities that arise. What we know about the Eagles is that they have 10 draft picks, that they have No. 21 overall today, and that, really, anything can happen.
A trade for a veteran from another team? Yeah, of course, but the time is dwindling and it will be very difficult to pull off anything with a major magnitude -- read: New contract -- once the draft begins.
Trade away veterans from this team? The Eagles have done it before. They could very well do it again today and tomorrow.
Stay put and play the tried-and-true route of taking "the best available player" for the weekend? Could happen, but Andy Reid has the ammunition to jump around as he sees fit.
The good news is that there are no restrictions here. The Eagles aren't bumped up against the salary cap. They aren't in a situation where they have to shed salaries or players. They don't have huge holes on the roster. They don't have dramatic needs.
Certainly, they have a great chance to improve the talent level on their roster this weekend. They will do that. They will aggressively go into the draft and work through the draft using every bit of creativity they have.
So, what's the strategy. Everyone is focused on the first pick, so let's start there. Most mock drafts suggest that Knowshon Moreno will be available and will be the Eagles' choice. He would be difficult to turn down, for sure. He is an outstanding prospect. But I don't think the Eagles are pigeon-holed into thinking they have to come out of round one with a running back, or a skills-position player.
They know something funky is going to happen in those first 20 picks. They know that somebody they didn't expect to see on the board at 21 will be there, and they will pause to consider. Would they pass on, say, Moreno, for a defensive end? Yeah, I think they might. Would they chase down a cornerback instead? Yup, could happen.
The Eagles aren't married to a running back early. They think this is a good, deep crop of running backs, and there is value through the early part of Sunday. So they do not have to pull out the stops to get Moreno or Beanie Wells today. Understand that. That's a fact. Both players are strong prospects, but this is not a running back-or-bust first round.
Tight end? Good ones through four rounds, at least. Athletic kids. Pass catchers. Brandon Pettigrew is the top of the line and is a complete package, but don't think the Eagles believe they need a big, stud blocker to complement Brent Celek. They need a young player to come in and play some right away, and make tight end a position of strength here. The Eagles have two new tackles and the hope is that they can get the tight ends out in the pass game just a little bit more than they did at times last year.
Cornerback? There are some good ones in the draft, but the pre-draft reports say there aren't any superstar-caliber guys out there. We'll see.
My prediction: I think the Eagles go defense in round one. No names. I just feel that this group of linemen will produce a player the Eagles can't pass up in the first round. I also think there is a chance that the Eagles trade out of 21, move back a few spots and stay in the first round and get an extra draft pick for the second or third round.
In the second round, I see offense as the pick. Maybe a running back. Maybe a tight end. I don't know. I think at the end of the day, though, the Eagles will have added one offensive player and one defensive player. The line of scrimmage just strikes me as the most vital area for Reid to make as strong as it can possibly be. Add another top-line player to this defensive line and the Eagles will have a great, great defense.
But, in the end, I'm guessing. You're guessing. The Eagles don't really know what they are going to do. They know what they want to do, and they are prepared for all scenarios. Think they knew last year that they would trade twice before they made their first pick? Not until the moves happened.
Here, the Eagles stay in the first round, but maybe just barely. Here, the Eagles go with the best players and by the end of day one, we'll see a lot more clearly how this team will shape up for 2009.