The beautiful thing about the NFL draft is that one move alters everything that follows it. There’s going to be the obvious moves — Cleveland can’t not take Myles Garrett at No. 1 (right?) — and O.J. Howard appears all but destined to be a New York Jet at No. 6. Then there’s going to be your wild cards, a team that can go either offense or defense, or even scrap everything and trade down for the ultimate source of unpredictability.
For a team like the Eagles, who are sitting at No. 14, any one of the 13 moves ahead of them could completely throw their plans off. Here’s three key spots that Eagles fans should be watching prior to the Birds being on the clock.
If all goes right with three points below, the Eagles will be exactly where they want to be:
This has been the most discussed factor that can impact the Eagles’ selection, and rightfully so. For the Eagles, the more quarterbacks taken between Nos. 1-13, the better. Right now, most projections have one — Mitchell Trubisky — going before their pick. Others, though, have two in Trubisky and Watson and even a few bold ones have three, including Patrick Mahomes III, all going before the Eagles. The Eagles have no need for a quarterback (thank you, Carson Wentz) so clearing them out as fast as possible will lead to more talent at the skill positions available at No. 14.
Are the Eagles taking Fournette? Nope. Nearly every mock has him going No. 4 to Jacksonville, including both of Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah’s mock drafts. In those very same mocks, going No. 8 to Carolina is fellow halfback and potential Eagles target Christian McCaffrey. What happens, though, if Jacksonville goes a different route and takes Jonathan Allen, Soloman Thomas or even trades with a team that is looking to get a quarterback? That would shuffle everything down for the running backs, meaning Fournette likely goes to Carolina where he’s the ideal fit. Jacksonville bypassing Fournette appears to be the only case in which McCaffrey could slip all the way to No. 14. If you’re a McCaffrey-to-Philly proponent, that No. 4 pick is a huge spot to watch.
No. 11 New Orleans
The Saints are in a similar situation to that of the Eagles. Good offense, poor defense. In other words, the Saints have the same needs as the Eagles, meaning whoever they pick likely is going to be someone the Eagles have on their board. Mayock has Charles Harris going to New Orleans while Jeremiah has Marlon Humphrey heading there. Both of those players, a defensive end and cornerback respectively, would fit in nicely with the Eagles at No. 14. It’s expected that the Saints will go with one of those two positions with a longshot being wide receiver John Ross, another target for Philadelphia. If the Eagles have Derek Barnett over Harris or value a running back or wide receiver over a cornerback, than fans should be hoping the Saints pick the lesser of the two so that the Eagles’ top priority remains in tact.