The Philadelphia Eagles held prime real estate in the 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 6 pick, positioned to snag one of the top three wide receivers available. Then, in a matter of minutes after the Miami Dolphins traded down from No. 3 to No. 12, the Eagles found themselves acquiring the No. 12 selection.
Philadelphia traded back six spots in the NFL Draft with Miami and received a 2022 first-round pick in the process, leaving the city confused why the Eagles wouldn't just stay at No. 6 and select one of the top three wide receivers in Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle (or get more creative and select tight end Kyle Pitts).
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer revealed why the Eagles decided to trade back from that No. 6 spot in the first place. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was convinced the Cincinnati Bengals were going to draft the wide receiver they really wanted at No. 5 -- the spot right before the Eagles were to pick.
"And with the Eagles believing there is a pretty good chance the Bengals will take LSU's Ja'Marr Chase at five," Breer wrote,"Philly felt comfortable with the difference in talent between six and 12 — and also operated with the knowledge that it'd be hard to get a future first (this being Miami's slotted No. 1 in 2022) in exchange for moving down closer to the draft, particularly if it looked like the top four picks would be QBs."
While it appears Chase was the Eagles' primary target at No. 6, Roseman seemed convinced the Bengals would take him at five as the first non-quarterback off the board -- instead of Cincinnati taking offensive lineman Penei Sewell. Trading down from No. 6 to No. 12 allows the Eagles to reset and still find a playmaker in the process.
Philadelphia is banking on another quarterback being selected in the top 10, which would be a maximum of five quarterbacks taken in the top 10 spots (assuming the top four picks are quarterbacks). Offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and linebacker Micah Parsons could also be selected before the Eagles pick at No. 12. That's nine picks -- including the Chase to Bengals report -- leaving two more selections before Philadelphia picks at No. 12. Smith and Waddle could be taken before then, but the Eagles could have the one playmaker remaining between Smith, Chase, and Pitts -- still getting the playmaker they would have taken at No. 6 and acquiring more draft assets in the process.
If the Eagles do end up with one of the top wide receivers (or Pitts) at No. 12, the trade is a win for Roseman and the Eagles' front office.