After a day to let it sink in and examine the ramifications and to discard the "hot takes" after the Eagles traded out of the No. 6 position in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, it all makes sense. The Eagles are a team looking to bolster its draft capital, and by dealing with Miami and moving to No. 12 overall on April 29, moving into the fourth round of the draft (No. 123 overall), and securing the Dolphins' original 2022 first-round draft pick, the Eagles have done just that.
They've set themselves up to control their path and open all options for 2021's draft, and they've put themselves in position to have three first-round draft picks in 2022. This is where a team that needs to rebuild its roster and infuse it with high-end young talent wants to be. Every NFL team goes through its down periods, and the 2020 season – a 4-11-1 disappointment – was certainly that for the Eagles. The best organizations are the ones that rebound quickly, and with the help of two trades – Carson Wentz to Indianapolis which brings to the Eagles a third-round draft pick this year and potentially a No. 1 in 2022 and the deal with Miami on Friday – Philadelphia is ripe to do just that with 20 selections over the next two drafts, including those first-rounders, two second-rounders, and three third-round choices.
That is prime draft stock. And that's why what the Eagles did on Friday was so important.
The key, of course, is that the Eagles take advantage of 11 draft picks – as it stands now – in 2021 and nine in 2022. Howie Roseman and his personnel team have the power to control their destiny and – here's the thing – April hasn't even started. Who knows what could happen in the next month? If the Eagles want to move back into the top 10 of the draft, they can do it. If they want to move back further and pick up more selections, they have that power. If they want to go outside the box and deal for a veteran on another roster, hey, they've got the fistful of draft picks to trade away.
Moving from No. 6 to No. 12 still puts the Eagles in position to draft a premium talent. Suggestions otherwise just don't make sense. The Eagles moved down all of six spots and they know, even this far out from the April 29 first round, generally how the first 11 picks will play out. At the cost of six slots in the first round and a fifth-round draft pick (No. 156 overall), the Eagles gained the 12th overall pick, the 123rd overall selection, and a first-round draft choice from Miami next year. That is great, great value for moving down six spots in the first round.
So, what will the Eagles do at No. 12? That remains to be seen. The approach, as Roseman said a few weeks ago is, "As we go forward with 19 draft picks (now 20) in the next two years, we need great players and great people ... we need to get really good players, especially at the priority positions for our football team. We're not really concerned about anything other than improving our team and making the right decisions for our team going forward."
This isn't going to happen overnight, as Roseman also said in the press conference he and Head Coach Nick Sirianni held as free agency opened. Roseman has been strategic in free agency as he helped the safety positions (Anthony Harris and Andrew Adams) and the quarterback room (Joe Flacco). The Eagles just don't have a lot of wiggle room within the salary cap. That hasn't stopped them from bringing those free agents on board, along with retaining some key veterans. The real work comes in the month ahead to maximize the 2021 NFL Draft.
How far away are the Eagles in the NFC East? You know how it works, right? How it looks on paper in March and April, and even in August many times, isn't the way it plays out when September arrives. The Eagles fell to the bottom of a bad division in 2020 and now they're on the rebound. They've been in this position before and they've come out of it very quickly. That's the goal this time around, and moves like the one the Eagles made on Friday – adding key pieces for their NFL Draft chessboard – tremendously help the cause.
Just think about it: The Eagles moved down six spots in the first round of the draft and parted with a fifth-round draft pick to add a first-round selection and a fourth-round pick to help the move forward. By any standards, that's a great deal. And we're still a month out from the Jaguars opening on the clock in Round 1. Anything can happen, as we've learned before. The Eagles have options, thanks to a smart series of trades in this offseason that bring to them draft picks to restock a transitioning roster.