The Eagles had a storybook 2017 season, so it feels odd to look back and wonder if they should've done anything differently. And yet here I am, doing just that.
Because while the 2017 NFL Draft - a particularly formative draft for the league - was a relative success for Howie Roseman & Co., it could've been even better.
The fine folks at NBC Sports Chicago decided to re-pick the 2017 draft's first round this week. (We can't imagine why.) And when you look at who the Eagles could've taken instead of Derek Barnett, it leaves you wondering... what if?
14. Philadelphia Eagles: RB Dalvin Cook
Cook was considered a fringe-first-rounder during the 2017 draft process but slid to the second round because of injury concerns. Fast forward three seasons, and Cook is one of the best all-around running backs in the league. He’d be the perfect fit for Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense.
Whew man, that would've been nice. I remember wanting the Eagles to pick Cook at the time: complementing your second-year franchise quarterback with a young stud runner? Absolutely perfect.
Things would look very different today if the Eagles had taken Cook, who's turned into a real beast of an offensive contributor. Outside of butterfly effect-style hypotheticals - does Carson Wentz stay healthy that year? - here's a look at three things it definitely would've changed.
1. Drafting Derek Barnett in 2017
This is obvious. Barnett has been a fine young defensive end, albeit one with holes in his game and one who is prone to disappear for stretches. Barnett was of course crucial in the Super Bowl run, recovering Brandon Graham's iconic strip sack of Tom Brady, but the Eagles would probably be better off in 2020 with Cook instead of Barnett.
2. The Jay Ajayi trade in 2017
I think the Eagles may have still kicked the tires on LeGarrette Blount in 2017 as a goal-line option, but they wouldn't have made a midseason trade for injury-prone Jay Ajayi if they already had a young RB in Cook on the roster. And suddenly, the Eagles don't have a fun-loving, bad-at-FIFA foreigner in their Super Bowl story.
3. Drafting Miles Sanders in 2019
Perhaps most consequential to the team's current makeup, Howie Roseman wouldn't be spending draft capital like a second-round pick on Miles Sanders with a star running back already on the team. Instead, maybe the Eagles double down on the wide receiver position and take Mecole Hardman (No. 56, three picks after Sanders and one before JJ Arcega-Whiteside) or D.K. Metcalf (No. 64, seven picks after Arcega-Whiteside).
Suddenly, this is an entirely different football team.
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