The Philadelphia Eagles made the decision to trade back in the first round in the NFL Draft, stockpiling more picks for a 2022 offseason where the team will have more flexibility to field a roster that can compete for a NFC East title. This doesn't take the Eagles out of fielding a competitive roster for 2021, as Philadelphia will just have to be more creative in doing so.
The NFL Draft is Philadelphia's opportunity to make things easier in Nick Sirianni's first year as head coach, which is expected to be a trying season. Philadelphia already accomplished its goal of trading Carson Wentz and landing a 2022 conditional first-round pick in the process, giving second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts the keys to the offense as the team's starting quarterback. To give Hurts a fair shot at becoming the Eagles' next franchise quarterback, the Eagles need to stockpile young talent around him in 2021.
Philadelphia has the opportunity to land an impact pass catcher in this NFL Draft, even after trading six spots back to No. 12. Not even the Eagles can screw this draft up, right? Here's the blueprint general manager Howie Roseman needs to read in order to have the perfect NFL Draft in 2021.
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Draft one of the big three wide receivers at No. 12
This isn't difficult. If the Eagles have the opportunity to draft Ja'Marr Chase (who likely won't be there), DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle with the No. 12 pick, they should rush to the podium to select that game-changing wide receiver they desperately need.
Philadelphia could actually be in a position to select Smith or Waddle. The Eagles can't go wrong with either player. Both wideouts would automatically become the top pass-catching option in Sirianni's offense, opening up opportunities for Jalen Reagor to shine in his second season. Waddle can stretch the field and give the Eagles a dimension to their offense the franchise hasn't seen since DeSean Jackson was scoring long touchdowns in his first stint with the team. Smith's speed is also an asset many teams covet, as he can separate from defenders at a whim.
The Eagles don't have many proven options at wide receiver. Adding Smith or Waddle makes this offense instantly better -- and gives Hurts a chance to shine in his prove-it year as the team's starting quarterback.
Land an extra first-round pick
No matter what the Eagles decide at No. 12, Roseman can get an extra first-round pick in this draft with all the team's draft capital available. Philadelphia has 11 picks, including two picks in the third round (No. 70 and No. 84). The Eagles could package one of those picks with their second-round pick (No. 37 overall) and trade up into the first round.
Landing that extra first-round pick in the 20s gives Philadelphia the opportunity for two options. Say the Eagles are unable to land Chase, Smith, or Waddle at No. 12, Roseman can still add an impact cornerback here in Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn. The Eagles land a starting cornerback opposite Darius Slay who can develop under defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Here's the kicker: Philadelphia still needs to add that impact wide receiver to help out Hurts in a draft where seven wide receivers are legitimate first-round selections. The Eagles can trade up into the 20s and get one of those wide receivers as Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, and Kadarius Toney are likely to be on the board. If the Eagles can land an impact cornerback at No. 12 and a good wide receiver late in the first round, who's going to complain about that?
Say Philadelphia is able to get Smith or Waddle at No. 12, the Eagles can still trade up and add a starting cornerback late in the first round. Caleb Farley and Asante Samuel Jr. will likely be picked in the 20s -- with a remote chance Greg Newsome II could fall. Either way the Eagles play it out, trading up into the first round gets the Eagles a Day One starter at a position of need. They have the draft ammunition to make it happen.
The Micah Parsons project
We're all well aware the Eagles haven't selected a linebacker in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979. If Parsons is there at No. 12, Roseman has excellent incentive to end that drought. No defensive player in this draft has the potential to impact a game like Parsons, a linebacker that can make the Eagles defense a dominant force for years to come.
Adding Eric Wilson in free agency last week could take the Eagles out of the running for Parsons, but how can a team pass on a player that has the potential to change a game like he does? The combination of size, speed, and strength, with the ability to change direction from sideline to sideline, gives Parsons the ability to dominate in the NFL for years. Parsons can rush the passer and is a dynamic downhill runner, a player the Eagles desperately could use in a new defense. Parsons is athletic enough to cover running backs and tight ends in man coverage, something many linebackers in this league struggle with on a weekly basis.
Parsons makes the Eagles defense instantly better, a disturbance in the force of NFC East offenses. The Eagles have needs at wide receiver and cornerback, but Parsons is the best player available if he falls to No. 12. No Eagles fan should be upset if Philadelphia decides to go against the grain and select Parsons, filling needs at wide receiver and cornerback later -- which is where trading back up into the first round also comes into play. The Eagles could land a potential All-Pro linebacker for the next decade, which is the immense ceiling Parsons presents for any team that drafts him.
If the Eagles get an impact wide receiver, cornerback, or Parsons at No. 12 -- Roseman's draft would be off to a great start. If he doesn't try to outsmart everyone, the Eagles can be big winners.