They wanted Brandon Graham all along, that much was clear. The Eagles were going to wait until the appropriate time and then make their move. They saw the opening and made it happen, moving from 24th overall in the first round to No. 13. The cost was substantial -- the 24th overall selection and two picks in the third round, but the Eagles had ample ammunition accumulated and plans to stretch their draft arsenal to the limit.
And maybe beyond the limit. The Eagles made six draft weekend trades, continuing a trend that has become, actually, a way of life on draft weekend. In the most recent eight drafts, Andy Reid and the personnel team have executed 29 trades, including 16 in the last three drafts. It is a method of drafting that has served the Eagles well. They take advantage of all of their picks and while there have been some misses, there have been enough hits to lead the team to nine playoff appearances and six NFC East titles in Reid's 12 seasons.
In a matter of one month, the Eagles will go at it again. They have assembled their board, and while there is tweaking ahead in the next few weeks, the outline of the board is solid. There are some pre-draft interviews to conduct, more I's to dot and T's to cross. The Eagles are in the stretch run of their draft preparations.
It is an exciting thought: What are the Eagles going to do in the draft? How are they going to address the needs on this team at a time when the league doesn't know if there will be any form of free agency? If they use last year's blueprint, one that clearly has been a way of draft life for the team, you can expect a lot of jumping around and maximizing of their assets. Of course, if there is period of free agency prior to the draft, the Eagles might have extra draft picks to use in any way they want. If not, they will only be permitted to trade what they have.
What they have, though, is quite a bit. Already, the team has 10 draft picks, including the two compensatory seventh-round selections awarded to the team by the NFL last week. That gives Reid and general manager Howie Roseman more pieces to move around, to fit into the team's big-picture puzzle.
Last year's draft was a whirlwind. The Graham trade was the headliner, but the team also did things like trade a sixth-round pick in 2011 to Detroit for a seventh-round pick in 2010, and then the Eagles turned around and used that seventh-round pick, the 220th overall, on linebacker Jamar Chaney. Chaney ended up starting at middle linebacker late in the year when Stewart Bradley was injured and made enough of an impression that it's likely he will have a chance to start on the defense this season and beyond.
They traded a fifth-round pick in 2010 to San Diego in exchange for a pick later in that round, which became wide receiver Riley Cooper, plus a fifth-round pick (149th overall selection) this April. Cooper showed a little something something last season and is on track for a good career here.
Of course, the most impactful move of all happened prior to the draft when the team dealt quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington in exchange for a second-round draft pick (safety Nate Allen) and a fourth-round pick (104th overall) in 2011.
Was the 2010 draft a good one for the Eagles? It's probably unfair to say for certain, the team certainly realized some immediate impact last season. Graham earned a starting spot prior to the beginning of the regular season, and then was up and down the rest of the way before suffering a knee injury that could keep him sidelined into this year. Allen started all year at free safety until a patellar tendon injury ended his season. Chaney became a starter, a good one.
Other players contributed: Safety Kurt Coleman played a bunch in the secondary and on special teams; Clay Harbor was the second tight end and the Eagles have high hopes for him and there are a handful of other players who may figure into the picture in 2011 and beyond.
There will be another raft of players coming from this April's draft, and roster spots are going to be challenged and the picture of 2010's draft will change. What won't change is how the Eagles do their business. Anything goes in the effort to improve the roster and win the Super Bowl now.