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Taking Stock Of First-Round Trades

Time to look back. Time to look ahead. Time to analyze. Draft-day trades have been a topic of great conversation and debate the last couple of Aprils as Andy Reid wheeled and dealed his way out of the first round both in 2007 and 2008.

Both years, when the Eagles traded out of the first round of the NFL draft, the natural reaction was to, well, overreact, and form an immediate opinion. Not fair. Can't do it with any degree of accuracy. Time will tell, the Eagles said.

And time will tell. Even after the trade of the 28th selection in Saturday's draft, the one the Eagles acquired during last April in their Day 1 draft trade with Carolina, to get Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, the proof of the quality of the trade will ultimately rest in how well Peters performs, if he is the dominating left tackle the team envisions.

But now we have some clarity. We have some inventory to discuss. So let's do that right now, and update the evaluation of the trades in anticipation of Peters meeting the media on Sunday at the NovaCare Complex.

In 2007, the Eagles traded their first-round draft pick to Dallas and used the three picks they received back from the Cowboys to take quarterback Kevin Kolb (second round), linebacker Stewart Bradley (third round), and safety C.J. Gaddis (fifth round). Now, as you know, the Eagles look at that fifth-round pick a little differently. They count tight end Brent Celek as part of the deal, since the extra pick in the fifth round allowed them to take a tight end when they might have otherwise honed in on the safety spot.

Bradley is, the Eagles anticipate, going to be a Pro Bowl middle linebacker and a fixture in the middle of the Eagles defense for years to come. Kolb remains a top prospect for this team, but it is fair to wonder what role he will play with Donovan McNabb very much in the picture and still at the top of his game. Gaddis was a poor draft pick. Celek is the team's starting tight end now after coming on strong in his second season.

Dallas used that first-round pick to take linebacker Anthony Spencer, who has started six games in two seasons, with a total of 4 1/2 sacks. The thinking in Dallas is that it is now or never for Spencer. And of those six players taken after Spencer at No. 26 overall, only a couple have made a dent in the league. Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, taken 32nd, has 94 catches and 7 touchdowns in his time with Indianapolis and could play a more prominent role in that offense this season. Chicago tight end Greg Olsen, taken 31st in 2007, caught 54 passes for the Bears and is a quality young tight end.

Still to be determined is, of course, Kolb's ultimate value with the Eagles. Does he ever become the starting quarterback here, or is he going to be used as trade bait, or will he play out his contract and move on? Stay tuned.

In 2008, the Eagles traded out of round one when Carolina made them an offer they couldn't refuse. In exchange for the 19th overall pick, the Eagles received the 43rd overall pick (which was then traded), a fourth-round pick (which the Eagles used to take offensive guard Mike McGlynn) and a first-round pick in 2009. That latter pick became the ammunition the Eagles used on Friday to select Peters.

The 43rd pick acquired from Carolina was traded to Minnesota (along with a fifth-round pick, which became offensive guard Roy Schuening, who played in one game last year with the Rams) for the following: the 47th overall pick, which the Eagles used to take defensive tackle Trevor Laws, and the 117th overall pick, which became safety Quintin Demps.

Laws is a key piece of the Eagles' defensive line, and he should contend for more playing time after playing in the tackle rotation as a rookie, and Demps is vying for a starting job at free safety after playing well on special teams and in spot duty on defense in 2008. And the Eagles also believe that had they not had the extra draft pick in the second round, they may have not taken wide receiver DeSean Jackson. They could have emerged from the first two rounds of the draft with offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who played well with Carolina after the Panthers used the 19th pick on him, and Laws.

So, to summarize, the Eagles received the following players for those two first-round draft picks: Jason Peters, Stewart Bradley, Trevor Laws, Quintin Demps, Mike McGlynn and Kevin Kolb and, as the Eagles see it, gave them flexibility to take Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson.

You can analyze it your way, too, and I'm sure there is logic in suggesting that had the Eagles taken Otah last year they would have been in position to do something differently in free agency this year. And that had they used the pick in 2007 for Olsen, they could have applied the efforts to shore up another position. Fair enough.

The point is, we now have more perspective to analyze those trades. And while the knee-jerk reaction at the time in some circles was not flattering, the longer-range analysis is much more in the Eagles' favor.

It is of ultimate importance that the team uses its assets wisely in every draft. They have done a good job moving pieces, keeping the big picture in mind, and maximizing their opportunities to improve the roster.

We'll talk about how the Eagles plan to attack the weekend ahead. With all the moves they've made in the off-season, they still have 10 draft picks, including the 21st overall. I think the Eagles will be every bit as active moving up, down and all around the draft. No way the Eagles are going to use those 10 picks. There just isn't room on the roster. Maybe the Eagles move up in the first round. Maybe they move down in the first round. Maybe they finagle a couple of the four fifth-round picks and get up in the second and third round for an extra pick.

It's going to be fun. The Eagles are as unpredictable as any team in the league, as they have shown time and time again.

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