With the Jets shipping Sam Darnold to the Panthers, the focus at the top of the draft now turns to the Falcons, who have the 4th overall pick.
And what they do greatly impacts the Eagles.
As of now, we know the top three picks will be quarterbacks.
We know the Jaguars will take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Now we know the Jets, without Darnold, will take a quarterback with the second pick, presumably BYU’s Zach Wilson. Since the 49ers traded up to No. 3, we know they’re going to take a QB. Everybody seems to think it’ll be Alabama’s Mac Jones, although you could make a case for North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
That Falcons are sitting at No. 4, and although Matt Ryan turns 36 next month, the Falcons don’t appear to be in the market for a quarterback just yet. Ryan’s contract pretty much locks him into the No. 1 job in Atlanta for the next two years and it doesn’t seem likely they’d draft a guy now to sit until 2024.
Now comes word from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Falcons are listening to offers for the fourth pick. And if they’re not thinking QB, why wouldn’t they get out of No. 4?
Potentially good news for the Eagles.
We know the Eagles aren’t drafting a quarterback. They wouldn’t have traded from 6 to 12 if they were. So the Eagles want as many teams as possible that need a quarterback to move ahead of them. Because the more QBs taken in the top 11 picks, the more elite non-quarterbacks drop and that gives them a better shot at the receiver or corner – or something else – they’re targeting at No. 12.
So they essentially want someone to take Ohio State’s Justin Fields before they pick. Let’s say the Patriots move up from No. 15 to No. 4, that would mean only six non-QBs would be taken before the Eagles pick.
That group of top non-quarterbacks includes tight end Kyle Pitts, receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, corners Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley and Jaycee Horn and offensive linemen Rashawn Slater and Penei Sewell.
Pitts and Chase aren’t getting anywhere near No. 12, but whatever happens, the Eagles will have their choice of at least a few of those guys. If five QBs are taken ahead of them instead of four, the odds increase that they’ll be able to get their top target, whether it’s Waddle, Surtain II, Slater or whoever.
The teams we know won’t take quarterbacks who pick between 5 and 11 are the Bengals at 5, the Dolphins at 6, the Panthers now at 8, the Cowboys at 10 and the Giants at 11. The Lions at 7 aren’t locked into Jared Goff for the long-term so they could go QB and so could the Broncos at 9, depending what they’re thinking about Drew Lock, and either could trade up as well.
But if you’re the Eagles, the ideal scenario is the Patriots jumping up from 15 to No. 4 – or anywhere else before No. 12 – and drafting a 1st-round quarterback for the first time since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
Who knows if the Eagles will get this right. But the more quarterbacks off the board before they pick, the better their odds of landing the guy they want.
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