Philadelphia Eagles: NFL Draft History Suggests Trading Up Is Mistake

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Philadelphia Eagles: NFL Draft History Suggests Trading Up Is Mistake
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Mamula was one of many Eagles errors when trading up

The Eagles move a lot on draft day.  Sometimes they move up, other times they move down.   We all remember the infamous trade up to draft Mike Mamula in 1995 (when they could have stood pat and taken Warren Sapp).  That move clearly did not work out.

There are many reasons moving up does not work out. First, the price tag to move up, especially significantly or into the top 10, is typically very high, meaning multiple picks or players. 

The draft is ultimately a crap shoot, outside of a few guys, so giving away picks reduces your chances of landing good players.

If you trade up and then misfire, it often comes back to haunt a team for years, especially if it is for a quarterback.  Luckily, the Eagles have not whiffed on a quarterback in the early parts of the draft.

The Eagles, and most teams, are better off picking where they are slotted or actually trading down in the draft.  I am sure there are some great examples of teams trading up and getting a great player, but for the most part, the price is usually not worth the player.  In the Eagles case, it definitely has not been worth the player.

Let's take a look at how the Eagles have done in the first round under Andy Reid when they have stood pat, traded up, or traded down.   In Reid's first four drafts, the Eagles stood pat, selecting Donovan McNabb, Corey Simon, Freddie Mitchell and Lito Sheppard with their picks. 

While Mitchell was a bust, the other three made nice contributions to the team, so I would say that three out of those four picks were successful.

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McDougle was another trade up, or slip up

Then the moving started for Andy Reid.  In 2003, the Birds traded up 15 spots to get DE Jerome McDougle.   While McDougle had potential, he never panned out, making the trade a bad move for the Eagles.  The Eagles gave up a first and second round pick to move up to get McDougle.

They were on the move again in 2004, moving up to take T Shawn Andrews.  Andrews did turn out to be a pretty solid player, but they gave up a first and second round pick to get him.  Andrews was a solid contributor for the team, so I wouldn't call this move a bust, but it definitely was not a home run either.

The 2005 and 2006 draft returned to normal, as the Eagles stayed where they were and took DTs Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley.  Patterson has been nothing spectacular but has made contributions to the team.  Bunkley was mediocre at best.

The next two years the Eagles tried something different, this time trading down.  The Eagles traded down and out of the first round.  They got three picks back, which they used to select Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley, and CJ Gaddis.  While those picks do not seem bad, the Cowboys used the Eagles' first round pick to select Anthony Spencer, the best player of the bunch.

In 2008 the Eagles traded out of the first round again, and then traded down again in the 2nd round.  They wound up with Desean Jackson (which was actually their pick anyway) and Trevor Laws (after trading Carolina's pick again to Minnesota), plus Mike McGlynn in the fourth round.

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2010 trade up netted Brandon Graham - yippee!

In 2009, Andy Reid was back to moving up, but it was only two spots, as the Eagles traded up to get Jeremy Maclin.  While it was not a huge move, Maclin was the best player the Eagles picked as a result of moving up on draft day in recent memory.

In 2010, the Eagles tried to get creative again and moved up to draft DE Brandon Graham.  While the jury is still out on Graham, it does not look promising.

Last year, the team stood pat and drafted Danny Watkins. The moral of the story is the Eagles typically do not do well with trading up.

The analysis would show the Eagles have done considerably better standing pat or trading down than anything else.

This does not even cover who the teams took with the Eagles picks.  Ultimately, the price to move up is normally multiple picks and that price is simply too steep to pay for the Eagles. 

So on draft day, I am rooting for the Eagles to stay at 15 or move down, but definitely not up.  Please, any place but up.

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