With the NFL Draft only weeks away, rumors and speculation regarding what the Philadelphia Eagles might do with the eighth pick in the first round continue to mount.
While many reports suggest the team is exploring trade scenarios to move even further up on the draft board to select a top quarterback prospect, it may prove too costly for the Birds to swing such a deal, and leaving them with a handful of options worthy of their eighth pick.
A popular name that has come up as an option for the Eagles is offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. Stanley is one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft, and is considered by many to be one of the safer choices. He could come in and potentially start right away at guard, while also figuring into the team's long-term plans a future starting tackle when the team eventually decides to move on from veteran Jason Peters.
However, while Stanley may indeed be a solid pick, the Birds may be much better off addressing the offensive line later in the draft.
History shows that quality offensive lineman can be found in all rounds of the draft. The Eagles themselves have had quite a bit of success finding good line prospects in the later rounds of the draft.
Todd Herremans was a fifth-round pick in 2005. Jason Kelce was a sixth-rounder in 2011. Evan Mathis came off of the scrap heap in 2011 to develop into one of the league's best guards. Jason Peters himself was an undrafted free agent that began his career as a tight end in Buffalo.
The Eagles have also already addressed the position with several moves in free agency. Brandon Brooks was signed to a big contract, and they picked up another starting-caliber player in Stefan Wisniewski.
These are two significant moves that represent instant upgrades over the mediocre guards that the team entered the season with a year ago. Doug Pederson seems to believe that the club can continue to get high quality play out of Peters, and if that's the case then adding talent to the offensive line with the eighth pick doesn't make much sense.
The franchise is in a position that they don't need to be looking for an instant starter on the line, but rather they need to replenish the depth behind the first unit. The Birds can find a solid prospect or two from the third round and on, and use this season to develop a talented rookie for a larger role next season.
The Eagles have other areas that are of much more concern. If they can't find a way to the top of the draft to get a franchise quarterback, they need to get younger and add a much more dynamic playmaker at the running back position than Ryan Mathews. They could also benefit from adding a top cornerback prospect with Nolan Carroll signed for just one season.
Offensive line remains a position that the Eagles absolutely need to add to in the draft, but with the moves the team has already made in free agency, combined with the reality that quality offensive line prospects can be round in the later rounds, it may make more sense for the Birds to go in another direction at the top of the draft.
Denny Basens is a contributing writer for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DennyBasens