We are just one week away from the NFL Draft.
There’s only one storyline that matters going into the draft: Where will Marcus Mariota go?
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I want the Eagles to get Mariota. Most Eagles fans want Mariota, but the question is, “How much should the Eagles give up to get him?”
In my opinion, the Eagles should pay whatever it takes (within reason).
Eagles coach Chip Kelly knows and loves Mariota. Kelly will get more out of Mariota than any other coach in the NFL.
Everyone assumes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to draft Jameis Winston with the No. 1 pick.
The Tennessee Titans have the No. 2 pick. For whatever reason, they seem to be happy with Zach Mettenberg, and aren’t crazy about drafting Mariota, even though he’s considered the best quarterback in the draft by NFL draft guru Mike Mayock.
At least, that’s the rumour. It’s nearly impossible to sort fact from fiction as we head into the draft. We’re dealing with months of speculation and subterfuge that makes it very difficult to separate signal from noise when it comes to draft reporting.
But let’s assume the reports are correct. Let’s assume the Titans don’t want Mariota. Next, let’s assume there other teams that want Mariota, and they’re willing to deal picks and players to get the No. 2 pick. The Eagles are going to have to beat those teams if they want Mariota.
So, what could it cost? Washington D.C.’s football team set the market’s expectation when it traded up to get RGIII in 2012.
D.C. traded a 2012 first-round pick (No. 6), 2013 first-round pick (No. 22), 2014 first-round pick (No. 2), and 2012 second-round pick (No. 39) for the No. 2 pick and the right to draft RGIII. In essence, that’s two first-round picks and one second round pick, since swapping the first-round picks in the same year is neutral.
This trade has been widely panned by conventional thinkers like Tony Manfred of Business Insider. However, if you really look at the deal, it’s not that bad for Washington.
Washington made the playoffs in its first year with RGIII. He was electric early on, but he got hurt, which has sent his career down the drain.
The Rams, meanwhile, have not made the playoffs since they made the trade. They haven’t even posted a winning record.
So, the Rams supposedly won the RGIII trade, and what that amounts to is two more wins after three years. If that’s winning, then there’s nothing much to lose.
Now, let’s circle back to the Eagles. The conventional wisdom is that they shouldn’t give up first-round draft picks. Have you seen the Eagles round one draft picks? Look at this list since 1999.
Other than Donovan McNabb, there isn’t a single franchise player on this list. You could argue that roughly five of the 15 picks were hits. That’s a 33% hit rate.
Chip Kelly loves Marcus Mariota. He coached him at Oregon. He thinks he is the best quarterback in the draft. He thinks Mariota is going to be a star. This is not a crapshoot. Kelly has coached in the NFL for two years. He knows what it takes to succeed. If he thinks Mariota has a 100% chance of success, he should do whatever it takes to get him.
Using the RGIII trade as a guide, the Eagles would give up two first-round draft picks. As we’ve seen, first-round picks are a crapshoot with a 33% chance of working out. A second-round pick is just as shaky, if not even more so.
I would much rather have a can’t miss franchise QB than three years of crapshoots in the first round of the draft.
Kelly has said he won’t do anything crazy to get Mariota: “Let’s dispel that right now. I think that stuff’s crazy. You guys have been going with that stuff all along. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in the draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to go get someone like that because we have too many other holes that we’re going to take care of.”
But, ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio has repeatedly made a good point about this on Philly sports radio station 97.5, the Fanatic.
He says, a mortgage is a good thing in life! People take out mortgages to buy houses. And nobody says, “I can’t believe you are mortgaging your life!” People say, “Congrats on the new house!”
The Eagles should mortgage the future on Mariota. It’s a smart, calculated investment in a player that will deliver returns starting in 2015, and if he’s as good as Kelly says, for many, many years to come.
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