During his joint 42-minute pre-draft media availability this week, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked a simple question:
Are you more interested in trading up or down in the first round?
His answer was not nearly as simple:
Who’s on the board? What’s the value? What are we getting?
His point, of course, was that they’ll have to see how the first round is going before figuring out whether or not they’d be willing to trade up to target a player or trade back to acquire more draft picks. At No. 25, it seems like they’re in a good position to do either. And Roseman is never shy about making draft-day trades.
I still think the Eagles are more likely to trade up to get what Roseman calls a “difference-maker,” but that doesn’t mean a trade down isn’t possible.
Remember, for Roseman, the draft isn’t about just getting good players; it’s about getting good players for good value. Earlier this week, Roseman outlined three reasons to make a trade in the first round:
1. Trading up: If there’s a fall-off point in talent in the first round, it makes sense to move up to get a difference-maker. The Eagles are sitting at 25, so if they have 20 players they think are first-round worthy (even though their grading scale doesn’t work by round), there’s a chance they’ll have to move up to get one of those top players. They’ll do their research, but won’t truly know if one of those top-tier players will be available at 25 until the players start getting picked off the board.
2. Trading down: If the Eagles are on the clock at 25 and they have, say, four players who are graded equally or close to it, they could add value by moving back three or four spots. They would get more or better later-round picks and still get a player they view as an equal to whomever they’d get at 25.
3. Trading down: If they’re on the clock at 25 and they don’t think any of the players are worthy of that pick, they can hope someone else sees value there. In that case, they can trade back and get into a pocket of that round or the next round where they’d feel more comfortable making a pick.
Since he became the Eagles’ GM in 2010, Roseman has been in charge of eight drafts (not including the 2015 draft under Chip Kelly). In those eight years, he has made 25 draft-day trades and four of them include first rounders. That’s over 3.0 per year and he’s never not made a trade during the draft. (This doesn’t include the two trades in 2016 to get in position to draft Carson Wentz; those happened before the draft.)
Of the four Round 1 trades, two were to trade up, two were to trade down.
• In 2010, the Eagles traded picks Nos. 24, 70 and 87 to move up to No. 13 to draft Brandon Graham.
• In 2012, the Eagles traded Nos. 15, 114 and 172 to move up to No. 12 to draft Fletcher Cox.
• In 2014, the Eagles traded No. 22 down to No. 26 to draft Marcus Smith. The Browns wanted Johnny Manziel. The Eagles also got No. 83.
• In 2018, the Eagles traded out of the first round (No. 32) when the Ravens wanted to draft Lamar Jackson. The Birds ended up trading back up higher in the second to take Dallas Goedert the next day.
Roseman has talked before about the usual talent cutoff in first rounds. There are only a certain amount of “difference-makers” atop every draft — it differs by team — and on Tuesday, he said most drafts don’t have “32 legitimate first round grades” on players. He, of course, didn’t say whether or not this is one of those years, as to not tip his hand. But the Eagles are already running through all the hypothetical situations. And this is the time where preliminary phone calls between teams about draft-day intentions start happening. Roseman always says trades happen because of relationships around the league.
So the reason Roseman didn’t answer the question on Tuesday is because he probably really doesn’t know what’s going to happen when the draft kicks off. He certainly has more of an idea than he let on — I still think the Eagles are in prime trade up territory — but there’s no point in tipping his hand.
The only thing we know for certain: Roseman isn’t one to shy away from draft-day moves, so there’s a good chance we see one again next week.
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