3 reasons why the Eagles should trade back in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft

Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The NFL Draft is a little over two weeks away and for Eagles fans, it’s an exciting time. Nobody really knows what Howie Roseman will do with the 22nd overall pick and for the first time in a long time, the Birds have a roster stacked enough that their first-round pick isn’t a ‘must-hit’ selection.

While the team could trade up to snag a prospect like J.C Latham, you can absolutely make the case that moving back into the second round and acquiring more picks for 2024 and beyond is the smart play. It might not sound all that enticing, but hear me out.

Who makes a difference?

If you were to list this team’s needs, the order would probably go as follows:

  1. Linebackers, Offensive line, WR3, EDGE (off-ball linebackers), cornerback

When looking at prospects who are likely to be available when the Eagles are on the clock at 22, is there any one guy who stands out as a must-draft prospect?

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The top linebacker in this class, Edgerrin Cooper, should be available in the heart of the second round. The best offensive tackles will likely be off the board by then, and we all know that Jeff Stoutland can turn Water into Wine so why overspend?

The EDGE rushers all have question marks, and it’s hard to really pin hopes on a cornerback because he isn’t going to play right away and the Eagles already have a stacked young group behind two starters who they’re unfortunately tied to….unless a shocking trade happens.

So instead of reaching for a first-round talent, the Eagles should at least explore the idea of moving back into the second, where they can get much more bang for their buck.

Second round is a hotbed for future Eagles this year

When you’re looking for players who can impact this team right away, WR3 and linebacker are the two spots that spring to mind. The cream of the crop at both spots lie in the second round. Whether it’s the explosive Malachi Corley at receiver, or the athleticism of guys like Edgerrin Cooper and Payton Wilson at linebacker, the second round is loaded with talents who can be dropped into expanded roles and make a difference.

What’s even more interesting is that if you look at players the Eagles have met with throughout this process, a huge chunk of them are expected to go in the heart of the Draft:

One name really springs to mind, and that’s Kentucky LB Trevin Wallace. I’ve graded the top linebackers in this year’s class over the last few weeks on live streams and Wallace grades out VERY similarly to Cooper and Wilson, making him a perfect consolation prize if the Birds are unable to snag one of the top two players at the position, or don’t want the question marks that come with Wilson’s injury history.

Another thing it look at is the team’s most complete draft class in recent memory, which was arguably 2018.

Dallas Goedert was a second-round pick, while Avonte Maddox and Josh Sweat were taken in the fourth. Matt Pryor was a servicable backup late on, and we all know what happened to Jordan Mailata…

Dallas goedert eagles vs buccaneers
Dallas Goedert has been a staple of the Eagles offense since he was drafted back in 2018 Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

The Eagles don’t NEED to be overly aggressive in a first round where the players on the board might not fit what they need out of the box. If developmental talent is the name of the game, be patient, and use the assets to move back and find those players who do.

the 2025 war chest

Another wildcard to take into account is how the team’s 2025 Draft picks are shaping up:

As things stand, they only have 6 picks for next year’s draft: A selection in each of the first three rounds, a fifth-rounder, and two seventh’s.

ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: The Philadelphia Eagles logo on the video board during the first round at the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

If there’s one thing we know it’s that Howie Roseman loves loading up on draft capital because it means he can be aggressive in trades and of course stock up on young talent. Mortgaging picks in trades and raking in value for future seasons has long been a staple of Roseman’s strategies and I doubt that changes here.

Given that the Eagles have no real up-front needs that can be filled in the first round, moving back and recouping some picks for 2025, especially with their cap situation set to drastically change, is just as important as finding a franchise player.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy