Holding pick 13, why it could benefit the Eagles to trade down

When you hold a top pick in the NFL draft, it usually means your team isn't very good. There are holes to fill and a lacking of star power on the roster. The job of the front office is to maximize the value of that pick and expedite the process of returning to contention. 

As the Eagles sit at No. 13 in the 2016 NFL Draft, they have holes, they don't have a lot of stars and depending on how the draft board falls, the best way to maximize this pick's potential could be to trade down.

The biggest hole on the Eagles roster right now — outside of quarterback should Sam Bradford elect to leave — is on the offensive line. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are two top-tier linemen, but the other three spots are murky. In a perfect world, a guy such as Ronnie Stanley will fall to them at 13 and give them an heir apparent to Jason Peters

But that is unlikely to happen. Very few mock drafts have Stanley falling out of the Top 10, let alone all the way to 13. After him, there isn't another lineman that wouldn't be considered a reach in the top half of the first round. 

If a guy such as Laquon Treadwell begins to fall through the first round, the Eagles could trade away their pick to a wide receiver-needy team and try to pick up a second-round pick to replace the one they sent to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Bradford. They could draft Ohio State's Taylor Decker or Michigan State's Jack Conklin in the first round, then use their new second-round pick to shore up a guard spot or add depth on the back end of their defense. 

Even if Bradford leaves, trading down could still be an option. If all three of the top QB prospects are off the board at 13, a trade could result in them taking Connor Cook in the second round or a guy such as Dak Prescott in later rounds. Both guys are raw and would need a redshirt year, which means Mark Sanchez or even someone like Chase Daniel could fill the role as stopgap and mentor for the next year.

The Eagles need to get this draft right. A team cannot bank on getting picks in the top half of the first round year after year. That's how people lose their jobs. If they believe staying at 13 is their best option, they need to take the best player on the board. Besides Fletcher Cox, there isn't anyone on the roster who is too good to not be supplanted by a blue chip rookie.

But therein lies the issue. With such little depth, quantity is just as important as quality. 

Social Media Stars

For two weeks now, there have been reports saying that the Eagles and Cox were closing in on a long-term deal and it would be announced soon. The rumors have cooled off recently, but apparently Cox isn't too happy with what has been reported. Perhaps both sides aren't even close to a deal yet.

I pointed out last week that the Eagles don't need to lock up Cox this year thanks to his fifth-year option and the franchise tag, but numbers like this would force the team to think otherwise. Cox dominated games when he was practically handcuffed by Bill Davis' scheme. His price tag will sky-rocket in Jim Schwartz's system. Pay the man.

Quick Hits

  • It is way too early to be speculating about anything regarding spring practices or training camp, but I am genuinely excited to see cornerback JaCorey Shepard on his surgically repaired knee. The Kansas product was the favorite to be the slot cornerback after Chip Kelly traded Brandon Boykin on the eve of training camp last year and played well in practice before blowing out his knee in a collision with Darren Sproles. Shepard was a sixth-round pick last year, thanks to a slow 40-time, but ended up being regarded as a steal after it was learned he had a strained hamstring during his pre-draft workouts. Once again, its early, but don't be surprised if Shepard's name is a popular one come August.
  • After Kelly's spending spree last year resulted in a terrible return on investment, the Eagles will be quiet during the free agent period this time around. They could try to add undervalued veterans who could speed up their rebuild, like when they signed Connor Barwin and Malcolm Jenkins in the spring of 2013, but Jeffrey Lurie will be reluctant to hand out big money to anybody for sometime. 
  • One thing I recognized when talking to a lot of fans was how turned off they were by Kelly purging the roster of players drafted and developed by the Eagles. While it seemed like he was improving the team, he was robbing them of their identity and the fans felt very little connection to a team that heavily relied on guys who have only been in Philadelphia for a few months. I think Lurie noticed that and he's moving quickly to lock up the young talent on this roster to rebuild that connection.

Tucker Bagley is a columnist for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @tbagley515.