Six weeks after Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly called rumours that he’d trade up to draft Marcus Mariota “crazy,” there are widespread reports that Kelly is going to do everything in his power to do just that.
A some point in the 48 hours before the draft, all the big NFL media guns have reported some version of the same thing: the Eagles are trying to make a trade for the No. 2 pick with the Tennessee Titans.
Peter King of SI wrote on Thursday that the Eagles are only team that could “realistically” trade up to No. 2 and draft Mariota. He added, “I believe Kelly will make a serious effort to acquire Mariota in the hours before the draft begins at 8 p.m. eastern time.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter went on Mike & Mike on Thursday morning and said the Eagles will go for it, but need to get an extra first-round pick in a Sam Bradford-Browns trade to do so:
“To think that the Eagles wouldn’t at least explore [moving up] I think would be a mistake because Chip Kelly has said that he believes Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback, best player in this draft. Well, if you can go get the best quarterback or the best player in the draft, why are you not going to go try and do that? So I think at some point today, I will not be surprised that the Philadelphia Eagles make that attempt. And if they do, the only way they can do it would be with the assistance of the Cleveland Browns who are willing and able to aid their efforts to try to get up to No. 2.”
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio agrees.
“Per a league source, the Eagles are ‘doing all they can’ to make the move from No. 20,” he reported on Wednesday night.
The big question is how far Kelly is willing to go here. It took three first-round picks and a second-round pick for Washington to move up to No. 2 to get Robert Griffin III in 2012. But they only had to move up from No. 6. The Eagles have to move up from No. 20, meaning the draft pick haul might have to be even bigger.
Without a high first-round pick to offer the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles might have to get creative, which means including actual able-bodied players in the trade instead of simply draft picks. Coincidentally (or not), there have been a ton of reports over the last few days that some of Philly’s best players are on the trading block.
Those players: defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, and nickel corner Brandon Boykin.
Three veteran players other teams have viewed as potential trade pieces for Eagles: Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Evan Mathis.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 30, 2015
Cox was arguably the team’s best player in 2014. As Rotoworld’s Josh Norris pointed out on Twitter, he’s a better asset than any defensive player in this draft:
If Kelly is willing to give up Cox in a trade for Mariota that would also include multiple first-round picks, he’s really going all-in. It’d be a monumental gamble — one that could blow up in his face unless Mariota becomes a superstar — but it certainly sounds like it’s on the table.