The Case for Moving Up
The plausible scenarios in which Philly moves up to pick a top name are a bit more concrete than those involving a trade down. Charley Casserly predicted a jump up the draft board to secure OT Greg Little. My version of this proposal involves bolstering the other side of the trenches. Posing the case for a jump up in the draft, I foresee two primary targets: Ed Oliver and (stop me if you’ve heard this name before) Montez Sweat. Both candidates carry a significant red flag with them entering the draft. Sweat was unfortunately diagnosed with a heart condition following his physical at the NFL Combine. Oliver has questions surrounding his size and scheme fit despite being one of the most dominant defenders in all of college football last season. A move up would cement the premise that Philadelphia sees their window to win a championship right now, and are less concerned with three and beyond years from now. Let’s start with the trade up for Oliver plan.
If Oliver is to fall, I do not see him getting past the Falcons at selection number 14. Fortunately for the Eagles, there is a glowing light in the shape of a trade partner positioned just before Atlanta. The Miami Dolphins are in clear rebuild mode and could look to bolster their haul of picks if they decide to neglect their need for a signal caller this year. Moving up to the 13th position would likely require both of the Eagles second round selections, which would leave them without a pick until the fourth round; less than ideal. Instead, Howie could look to package some young players (likely Rasul Douglas and/or Nelson Agholor) to lessen the burden on the draft at hand. If Philadelphia has their heart set on Oliver, they could make an even more aggressive move and ring the Bengals line to try to jump in front of the Packers, who may also have the Houston DT’s number. It’s unclear what the future holds in Cincinnati, but with multiple holes to fill more draft picks would certainly help their cause.
The scenario in which the Eagles trade up for Sweat is a bit harder to figure due to the smoke veiling his health. His camp is likely to downplay the effect it will have on his play and NFL teams will keep their cards close to their chests until draft day. The Lions seem to be the consensus for when Sweat will come off the board, but if they are antsy about his condition Sweat may slide all the way down to the mid to late teens. Green Bay will absolutely give him a look, but the team paid big money to strengthen their edge rush talent and could use some interior defensive line help and offensive weapons. Again I see the Dolphins being the most likely trade partners. The Redskins have had fantastic luck snapping up tumbling defensive talent and Howie knows how much of a nightmare it could be to face the Mississippi State DE twice a year. The Eagles have not been tentative taking talent with attached health concerns in the past and even though this situation seems somehow different, the team is enamored with Sweat.
There is also the possibility of a smaller vault up the draft board. The Titans are a very real risk of stealing Christian Wilkins. I do not see the Giants doing any favors for the Eagles in the first round. However, Howie has had great rapport with the Vikings in years past and may be able to swing a trade for limited capital to move ahead of Tennessee. The truth is, the Clemson product may be long gone by then after impressing at both the Combine and at his Pro Day. At the same time, some draft experts have Wilkins taken in the late first round. I don’t see Philly calling Miami to move up for a player they might be lucky enough to get with their original pick. Nevertheless, a small move up to secure a great talent and fit makes a lot of sense with the ammo of an extra second round pick in hand.