Shortly after the Sixers made headlines with their acquisition of George Hill at the NBA trade deadline, Howie Roseman and the Eagles stole the spotlight back after making a trade of their own the following day.
The Eagles traded the sixth overall selection in this year’s draft to Miami for the 12th overall pick, which they received from San Francisco the same day, along with Miami’s 2021 fourth round pick and their first round pick in 2022.
All in all, the Eagles have 11 selections in this year’s draft — four in the top-100. And now they have nine picks the following year, with potentially three in the first round. If Carson Wentz plays well enough to get the Colts to the playoffs, or if he plays at least 75% of the snaps, the 2022 second round pick the Eagles acquired from Indy in the Wentz trade will become a first.
For the record, I absolutely love the trade. And I figured the majority of Eagles fans would too. But then I checked Twitter, and my God was I wrong.
Maybe it’s just the fans I follow, who knows, but nearly every tweet I saw was negative.
“I can’t believe Howie is doing this!”
“Why wouldn’t he just stay at six and take Pitts or Chase!”
My entire feed was full of Howie bashing and Howie memes. Admittedly, some of the memes did make me laugh, but the massive amounts of fans who hate the trade is astounding.
The main argument I’ve seen is something along the lines of, “Howie does not have a good track record of drafting players, therefore, he should’ve stayed at six so he had less of a chance to screw it up.”
I won’t argue that Howie has done a good job drafting in recent years. I don’t think there’s an Eagles fan out there who would argue that. But just because the general manager does not have a good draft resume does not mean he shouldn’t attempt to put his team in the best position to succeed. And that’s exactly what this trade does.
Looking at the possibilities in the 2021 NFL Draft
Staying put at the six, the Eagles obviously would’ve had their pick of the litter on any player they wanted essentially. The top-3 picks will more likely than not all be quarterbacks, the next two, Atlanta and Cincinnati, will probably be offensive lineman, leaving every skill position there for the taking for the Eagles.
But there’s still a very good chance the Eagles end up with one of the top-3 wide receiver prospects at 12, or with one of the top-3 cornerback prospects — arguably the biggest need on this team.
Let’s take a quick look at the draft order from 6-12:
- 6. Miami Dolphins
- 7. Detroit Lions
- 8. Carolina Panthers
- 9. Denver Broncos
- 10. New York Giants
- 11. Dallas Cowboys
- 12. Philadelphia Eagles
There are a few teams in that group who could take a quarterback, like Miami, Carolina, or Denver. You’d have to imagine Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase will also be taken by one of those teams. And maybe someone like offensive tackle Rashawn Slater or linebacker Micah Parsons is taken in that group as well.
The only team in that group who is almost undoubtedly going to draft a cornerback is Dallas, who desperately needs help at that position.
The Eagles two biggest needs are at corner and wideout, and aside from Miami, Detroit, and Dallas, I don’t see any of those other teams in that 6-12 range plucking from those position groups. That could potentially leave the Eagles with: DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain, or Caleb Farley.
If the Eagles select any of those players, Eagles fans should be satisfied.
Looking ahead to 2022
Per Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Eagles have never had more than three first round picks in a two year period. If everything works out with Wentz next year, they could end up with four.
For a team that’s clearly in a youth movement, five first round picks can go a long way.
Looking ahead to the 2022 draft, let’s say Wentz plays well enough for that second round selection to become a first. The team’s three first rounders will probably be in the 12-25 range. If the Eagles are complete trash next year, they could end up with another top-10 pick, but I’m choosing to be a bit more optimistic here.
Obviously, those picks could help fill a lot of holes on this team. That goes without saying. But one factor to keep in mind is how well Jalen Hurts plays in 2021.
Reports suggested that the Eagles initial plan was to try and trade up in this year’s draft to take BYU’s Zach Wilson. Howie felt like the package would have been cost too much, so he settled for the trade package he received from Miami.
The team is clearly not sold on Hurts just yet, and they shouldn’t be. It’s impossible to know how good a quarterback is based off just four NFL starts. Since they were unable to get their guy (Wilson) this year, it appears they’re willing to give Hurts an entire year to prove himself before making a definitive decision on the quarterback position.
If he does not live up to expectations, the team has three first round picks to use as trade ammunition next year. Whether they decide to trade up for the best signal caller in next year’s draft, or if they want to use those picks to trade for a proven quarterback already in the league, they have optionality now. Something they didn’t necessarily have before pulling off this trade.
To reiterate a point I made earlier — just because Roseman does not have a good draft resume does not mean he shouldn’t attempt to acquire more draft capital and put his team in the best position to succeed.
If you suck at drafting, it’s not an excuse to play it safe and just stay at six so you have a lower chance of screwing it up. Playing it safe doesn’t win championships in this league, and Howie — for all his faults — has never been one to play it safe.
This team isn’t a stud wide receiver away from competing from a championship, and based on almost every tweet I’ve seen on the issue, that seems to be what most fans think right now. Taking Pitts or Chase at six would maybe add one more win to our total in 2021. This team needs young players at almost every position, and this trade gives them more opportunities to get that help.
I understand if you’re pessimistic with Howie running the show — I’m right there with you. But he deserves credit for acquiring multiple first round picks and understanding that this team can’t win championships by just signing free agents or trading for veterans.
Sustainable playoff success is built through the draft in this league, and for the first time in awhile it feels like the Eagles realize that.