A ton of rumors are swirling out of Philadelphia, hinting that the Eagles want to trade up to the number 1 overall pick so they can grab North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz. That would clearly shake up the 49ers draft situation. But are these reports credible?
These weeks before the draft are the moment of peak smokescreen and bluffing. It's tempting to say that anything leaked out is by definition NOT true, and that's not a bad starting point for evaluating rumors. But unfortunately it's not that simple.
San Francisco (picking seventh) and Philadelphia (eighth) both need quarterbacks, and Tennessee is openly entertaining offers for their top pick, though OT Laremy Tunsil seems like a great choice to protect Marcus Mariota, their young franchise QB.
The teams drafting 2nd, 3rd and 4th -- Cleveland, San Diego, and Dallas -- all need quarterbacks, though the Browns grabbed RGIII and the Chargers and Cowboys have a year or two left in their aging starters. Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff, the top two quarterback prospects, might well be gone before Dallas even picks, much less SF or Philly. And there is a big dropoff in talent after those two, down to Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook, and other prospects.
St. Louis Los Angeles Rams are another team that might trade up, perhaps wanting a marquee star bigger than Case Keenum leading the team in their Tinseltown debut. Starting at number 15, though, they have a long way to climb. The extra second round pick they got from Chip Kelly in the Sam Bradford - Nick Foles trade is unlikely to be enough.
And the consensus 3rd-best QB, Paxton Lynch, will probably be available with their current pick. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, a former scout for the Eagles, thinks Lynch has the highest upside of the top three.
There are some strong reasons to doubt that Philadelphia will trade up to #1. For one thing, they just signed Sam Bradford to a 2-year deal that paid him more than the franchise tag, while signing Chase Daniel to a high-paid backup deal with a bonus if he takes over a starter. Daniel played last year in Kansas City, where new Eagles coach Doug Pederson was Offensive Coordinator.
San Francisco is in a much better position to trade up, as Josh Paunil of Birds 24/7 notes, because they start one slot higher, have 5 extra picks to bargain with, and aren't missing their 2nd round pick as Philadelphia is. But the biggest reason to doubt the Eagles will move up is that they're hinting so hard that they will.
The team has made a show of working out every major QB prospect, with a public, nationwide tour including owner Jeffrey Lurie. Now leaks are popping out that Lurie has settled on Carson Wentz and wants the first pick. It's all a little too obvious, suggesting the real motive might be something like this:
So, DAL/SF/PHI/NYJ supposedly trying to move up to 1. Probably not true theory: Howie faking interest to raise price for DAL/Chip.— Greg Richards (@igglesnut) April 8, 2016
You don't have to imagine Howie Roseman wanting revenge against Chip Kelly as a motive for panicking the Niners into trading up. If they Eagles don't want Wentz, they'd love to see another team grab him so that the prospect they do want falls to the eighth pick.
Still, it's kind of delicious to imagine the Eagles desperate for a player who has fallen past Baltimore at number six -- and Howie Roseman having to call Chip Kelly's new team to make a deal.