What If The Eagles Kept Trading Down?

In my most recent post at Bleeding Green Nation I looked at possible draft trades for the Eagles. The genesis for the post was a very different idea, one that as I kept going turned out to be really bizarre and not worth a post there. But I give you here, my loyalest of readers, the leftovers and unused bits.

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl this year with a roster stocked with late round picks. Nine players who started at some point in the season were drafted by the Seahawks in the first three rounds. 17 players who started were drafted in the 4th round or later. That is in part due to there being more picks in rounds 4-7 (plus undrafted free agency) than there are picks in rounds 1-3, but the Seahawks picked up more than their fair share of players this way: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and Red Bryant were late picks or UDFA. With so many players on cheap contracts, the Seahawks were able to supplement their roster nicely with free agents. Some might see this as a blueprint to build a team. One way to go about setting the foundation based on this blueprint would be to trade back in the early rounds and pick up some extra late picks.

What if we took that to an extreme? What if we looked at the past three years and retroactively had the Eagles trade down and didn’t stop until their first pick was in the fourth round? What kind of team would you have?

Looking at every time a team traded back under the new CBA, we can see what actually happened instead of just using the draft chart from 20 years ago. When there is not an actual trade at that spot, the next pick that was traded will be used. For example if the 37th pick wasn’t traded but the 39th was, that trade will be used. If a team is trading back to just trade back, they do not care about getting maximum value, as was the case with the Oakland Raiders last year trading back with Miami. In the case of two instances where a pick was traded, the we will take the “offer” with the highest draft chart value.

Let us start with the 2011 Draft. While it technically took place prior to the new CBA, it was done with the understanding that rookie contracts would be reigned in and thus make higher draft picks easier to trade, which is the reason I looked only at the past three years. This was one of the few topics on which the owners and NFLPA agreed on at the time. The Eagles entered the 2011 draft with picks 23, 54, 85, 104, 120, 153, 227, and comp picks 237 and 240 which can not be traded. If the Eagles traded away their first three picks, what could they have gotten?

23 for 31 and 126
31 w/126 for 36 and 101
36 for 45, 108 and 141
45 for 50 and 150
50 for 59 and 123
54 for 61 and 173
59 for 73 and 138
61 for 79, 146 and 217

The Eagles now have picks 73, 79, 85, 101, 104, 108, 120, 123, 138, 141, 146, 150, 153, 173, 217, 227, 237 and 240. They started with nine picks and end up with 18. Assuming they took the player that was actually taken there, they would have:

73: RB Stevan Ridley
79: WR Leonard Hankerson
85: OT Jah Reid
101: G Clint Boling
104: TE Luke Stocker
108: S Quinton Carter
120: K Alex Henery
123: WR Tandon Doss
138: OT Marcus Cannon
141: TE DJ Williams
146: S Dejon Gomes
150: OT Jason Pinkston
153: WR Jeremy Kerley
173: CB Byron Maxwell
217: OT Maurice Hurt
227: WR Scotty McKnight
237: LB Greg Lloyd Jr.
240: FB Stanley Havili

Yuck. The Eagles actual draft was not much better, but the selection of Jason Kelce (acquired, coincidentally, when the Eagles traded back from 85 to 90 and 191), makes that a better draft than this hypothetical one. Perhaps 2012 will be better.

In 2012 the Eagles entered the draft with picks 15, 51, 88, 114, 172, 194, 200 and 229.

15 for 31 and 74
31 with 126*  for 36 and 101
36 for 45, 108 and 141
45 for 50 and 150
50 for 59 and 123
51 for 62 and 127*
59 for 73 and 138
62 for 90 and 163

*Pick 126 hadn’t been acquired yet but we’ll make assurances with the team we’re trading with that they will get a pick within a couple of selections of it.

The Eagles now have picks 73, 74, 88, 90, 101, 108, 114, 123, 138, 141, 150, 163, 172, 194, 200 and 229, 18 in total. This would give them:

73: S Brandon Taylor
74: OT Donald Stephenson
88: QB Nick Foles
90: DE Jake Bequette
101: CB Omar Bolden
108: C Philip Blake
114: DT Jaye Howard
123: CB Brandon Boykin
138: LB Tahir Whitehead
141: G Adam Gettis
150: G Rokevious Watkins
163: LB Terrell Manning
172: CB Jeremy Lane
194: WR Marvin McNutt
200: G Brandon Washington
229: RB Bryce Brown

Better, but not great. The best picks are ones they already had. And the Eagles actual draft was way better.

On to 2013. The Eagles entered the draft with picks 4, 35, 67, 101, 136, 210, 212, 218 and 239.

4 for 7 and 103*
7 with 71 for 16, 46, 78, 222
16 for 31 and 74
31 w/126 for 36, 102*
35 for 40, 216, 2015 3rd
36 for 45, 108, 141
40 for 47, 154, 232
45 for 50, 150
46 for 53, 152
47 for 59, 123
50 for 62, 127
53 for 61, 173
59 for 63*, 165, 199

*In this scenario we would have received the same picks twice, so they were substituted with the actual picks the teams we were trading with had.

The Eagles now have picks 50, 53, 59, 67, 74, 78, 101, 102, 103, 108, 123, 127, 136, 141, 150, 152, 154, 165, 173, 199, 210, 212, 216, 218, 222, 232 and 239.

That’s 27 total picks and we are not out of the third round. Trading back from 4 and 35 has netted a stunning 20 picks. I think I can stop now.

50: LB Jonathan Bostic
53: DE Margus Hunt
59: WR Aaron Dobson
67: DT Bennie Logan
101: WR Ace Sanders
102: WR Josh Boyce
103: DE Alex Okafor
108: G Edmund Kugbila
123: WR Chris Harper
127: DE Malliciah Goodman
136: S Earl Wolff
141: G Oday Aboushi
150: CB Terry Hawthorne
152: S Cooper Taylor
154: RB Chris Thompson
165: P Sam Martin
173: OT Vinston Painter
199: RB Theo Riddick
210: CB Demetrius McCray
212: DE Joe Kruger
216: WR Charles Johnson
218: CB Jordan Poyer
222: TE Chris Gragg
232: LB Sam Barrington
239: DE David King

It is unfair to make any real proclamations after one year, but once again the actual draft the team had was, so far, better. Coincidentally this gives the Eagles 61 picks over a three year span… which is the exact amount of players a team carries on it’s active roster and practice squad. This team wouldn’t be realistic though, as among other things it has no punter.

Of course this is an extreme exercise, but within those confines it is quite clear that stockpiling picks is a waste. Let us look at a more realistic option, trading back with San Fransisco, who have 11 picks and have such a good team that they don’t have 11 roster spots open. Last year the Rams traded the 22nd pick, along with a 2015 7th rounder, for picks 30, 92 and 198.

What would that give the Eagles, retroactively?

2011: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, OT Joseph Barksdale, S Tyler Sash
2012: WR AJ Jenkins, WR TY Hilton, WR Tommy Streeter
2013: LB Alec Ogletree, WR Stedman Bailey, DT Chris Jones

In reality those picks would be different, but you can see the much improved quality over the latter half of the draft. The saying “quality over quantity” is apt. Adding an extra pick is fine, but stockpiling them does not get you much of a return.



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