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Eagles’ draft to bring surprises

Howie Roseman

On April 27, the Eagles will take their next step in their quest to return to — and win this time — a Super Bowl. The NFL Draft begins in Las Vegas for Thursday’s first round where the Eagles are scheduled to have two first-round picks, No. 10 and No. 30.

The Eagles have four picks of the top 100 picks in the draft, including No. 10, which was obtained in a 2022 draft-day trade with the Saints. After those picks, the Eagles are scheduled to pick just two more times, both in the seventh and final round.

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The entire NFL Media Complex has spent the months since the Eagles lost to Andy Reid’s Chiefs churning out mock draft after mock draft, trying to guess what Executive Vice President Howie Roseman will do when it comes time to pick. Scouring through these picks, one thing is clear. No one really knows.

More to the point, even Roseman doesn’t know.

There is a name for whom the Eagles are looking for, though. He is the Best Player Available. Every NFL team has an exhausting list of every eligible college player ranked both overall and by position. The Eagles rank players according to the team’s own idea of which positions are most valuable, then by which areas of the roster need the most help.

For instance, the Eagles have their quarterback in Jalen Hurts and a highly regarded backup in former No. 1 pick Marcus Mariota.

That’s good news on two levels.

First, the Eagles won’t be looking to draft one of the four projected first-rounders in this year’s draft. Most of the teams that still need quarterbacks will be eager to either pick before the Eagles or to offer up potential trades that Roseman can use to improve the Eagles’ picks.

Second, as each quarterback is taken, good players will move closer to the Eagles’ eventual pick.

Roseman has long since proven that he will be happy to target a player the Eagles like by jumping up or down the draft order, usually piling up extra picks in the process.

The safest bet for what the Eagles will do is always betting that the team won’t select the six picks they are scheduled to have.There’s no telling how many picks the Eagles will actually end up with.

Here’s what we do know.

The Eagles will look to bolster their offensive and defensive lines. There’s a reason the Eagles made the Super Bowl last year, and the lines were that reason.

The Eagles will most likely bypass high profile picks like Texas running back Bijan Robinson or Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Look instead to the lines. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski is the top offensive lineman available. If a run on quarterbacks puts Skoronski in range, the Eagles might be tempted to pull the trigger on a trade.

The Georgia defense would be the next place to look. The two-time national champions already gave the Eagles tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean. Could tackle Jalen Carter or edge rusher Nolan Smith join the pipeline from Athens to Philly?

Carter has a pending law enforcement issue to settle but his value as an understudy to Fletcher Cox could make him a good choice. Carter was considered the best player on the Georgia defense two years ago, and the Eagles already have two of those players on the roster.

Smith is undersized but oh so quick on the outside. In fact, if you want to get an idea of what kind of player he could become, think of Hasaan Reddick. The former Haddon Heights player had more sacks than any player in the NFL last year.

If the lines don’t get that early first-round love, there are some very interesting options who could fit in nicely with the Eagles’ talented but aging secondary. Three cornerbacks come to mind. Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon of Illinois and Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. could all be around near the 10th pick. At the safety position, Alabama’s Brian Branch is an option for the Eagles’ late first-rounder.

Fortunately, the drama will end shortly. We’ll know all the Eagles’ new draft picks and we’ll know how trader Howie has done and we can start talking about rookie camps, OTAs and training camp. Heck we’re less than six months away from opening day. ••

Tom Rimback has covered the Eagles for more than 25 years. He’ll be weighing in on the team off and on throughout the year.

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