Eagles: Players worth trading up for in the NFL Draft

With NFL Draft week well underway, the rumor mill is churning at a rapid pace. And of course, the Philadelphia Eagles are front and center in a handful of these reports.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport recently discussed the potential of possible trade ups or trade downs when speaking on NFL Network. He specifically pointed to the Eagles, stating:

So, we talk about teams every time this time of year, who wants to move up? Who wants to move down? One of the teams that I would say it most notably making calls about potentially moving up is the Philadelphia Eagles. Which, no surprise, every time this year it seems Howie Roseman is interested in doing a lot of things. Moving up is one, moving back is another. Moving up is a fascinating one because you do wonder if the Eagles move up from 15 — of course, they do have plenty of ammunition, including the two first-round picks — who would they be targeting? Potentially would a corner be someone they would be targeting? Would it be an edge rusher? Would a [Kayvon] Thibodeaux slip? Lot of options here for the Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously we’ll keep our eyes on that. No one loves trades more than Howie Roseman.

Like Rapoport says, this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who’s followed Howie Roseman’s career as the Eagles GM. He’s made a handful of trades during draft night to secure his preferred prospects (i.e. DeVonta Smith last year, Fletcher Cox in 2012, Carson Wentz in 2016).

He’s also made a handful of trade downs throughout his career, which, as Rapoport pointed out, could be in the cards as well. The unpredictability of this year’s draft has been well documented. At almost every position, there hasn’t been a general consensus on who the No. 1 prospect is. The No. 1 overall pick is still up in the air, though it is beginning to look like Travon Walker will be the selection. Nevertheless, anything can happen.

So, if Howie is really making calls to try and creep into the top-10 range on Thursday night, who will he be targeting? There are only a few names truly worthy of a trade up, and we’re going to break them down here.

Here are four players that are worth trading up for in the NFL Draft.

Derek Stingley Jr./Ahmad Gardner

Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner feels like a top-5 lock at this point, but if Derek Stingley does end up being the first corner off the board, perhaps Gardner falls a little outside of the top-5. As for Stingley, there’s been plenty of speculation on a potential fall, due mostly to his underachieving performance following his outstanding freshman season.

Trading up for either of these top corner prospects could potentially cost a pretty penny, but best believe it would be worth it. When was the last time the Eagles had a true long-term solution at the cornerback position? It’s been awhile. When was the last time the Eagles had an elite athlete at the cornerback position? I honestly don’t know.

With the way the game’s going, stockpiling elite athletes in your secondary is a top priority. The Eagles simply don’t have that right now and they haven’t had that in quite some time.

Corner has never been one of Howie’s premiere positions, but I think we can all agree that it should be. The team hasn’t selected a corner in the first-round since Lito Shepard all the way back in 2002 — 20 years ago! It’s pretty insane that this front office has neglected to address this position in a meaningful way through the draft for such a long time.

After both Gardner and Stingley, the drop off is pretty steep in this cornerback crop — though Trent McDuffie is a solid prospect, he’s just not on the same level of Sauce or Stingley.

Corner is, once again, one of the biggest needs facing this team. How do you fix that? By putting real assets into acquiring a long-term solution. Trading up and snagging either Gardner or Stingley would give the Eagles their first real long-term fix at the cornerback position in over a decade.

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Up until about a month or two ago, Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was a consensus top-3 prospect. Now, it feels like he could fall out of the top-5 and into range for a potential trade up. Aside from questions surrounding his love for the game, there’s no legitimate reason for Thibodeaux to fall past five. But alas, some of these teams selecting in that range are selecting in that range for a reason (they’re stupid).

Thibodeaux is a classic edge rusher and his skill set should translate to a perennial All-Pro at the next level. He brings the explosiveness, bend, and length that any great defensive end possesses. Even though the Eagles have two starters already in place on the edge, Thibodeaux is good enough to start from day one — and he probably should even if he does join this defensive line.

He’s an all-around great prospect who’s gotten the classic ‘character concerns’ treatment, without any real evidence. While defensive end isn’t the biggest need for the Eagles, the value that position holds within the organization — and the league at large — could be enough to convince Howie to trade up for him. Remember, the Eagles brought in Thibodeaux for a pre-draft visit, so they’re clearly keeping tabs on him and trading up for him wouldn’t be a complete shot in the dark from their perspective.

Jameson Williams

This one is understandably a tough sell to Eagles fans. For starters, the team just traded up for a wideout in last year’s draft. Despite the trade for DeVonta Smith paying off, I understand the hesitancy to do it in back-to-back years. Secondly, Jameson Williams is currently rehabbing the torn ACL he sustained in the National Championship against Georgia. Even though it’s kind of obvious that he’ll play early in 2022, fans are never head over heels about drafting an injured player, let alone trading up for one.

For those two facts alone, trading up for Williams is a bold move, but one that could pay off in a huge way. He would add a legitimate speed receiver to the Eagles wide receiving corps and another great all-around wideout to play alongside Smith. I like Smith just as much as anyone, but if he doesn’t get any help in his receiving corps, it won’t be difficult for defenses to just throw everything they have at Smith to take him out of the game. I think Smith is good enough to overcome that, but a little help on the outside in the form of the best deep threat in this draft class would be nice.

Even if you don’t believe Jalen Hurts is the quarterback that’ll get the most out of this wide receiving duo, that doesn’t mean the front office should not add weapons to the offense. If the Eagles eventually move on from Hurts, the next quarterback will have two legit weapons to work with on the outside, and it’ll make Philly a lot more alluring for QBs than it was this offseason.

Williams isn’t everyone’s top wide receiver in this draft, but his explosiveness and route running ability is just too great to pass up in my opinion. Plus, the Eagles probably won’t have to trade up all that far to snag him. Hell, there’s a chance he just falls to 15. But, if it becomes clear that he’s going to get snagged by one of the top-15 teams, don’t be shocked if Howie works his magic to jump up and get Williams for himself.

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