Trade-happy Eagles open for dealing on draft day

Teams looking for a quarterback could have the Philadelphia

Eagles on speed dial before the NFL draft.

The inability to trade Kevin Kolb because of the lockout doesn’t

mean the Eagles aren’t an attractive partner for a club that needs

a quarterback. That’s because Philadelphia holds the No. 23 pick in

the first round in a draft where several QBs are projected to go

around that spot.

”Especially where we are in the first round, I think that’s

where you anticipate some of the quarterbacks coming up,” Eagles

general manager Howie Roseman said. ”Obviously we’re a great place

in the draft to get some of those quarterbacks where they’re

slotted to go if someone wants to come up and get some of those

quarterbacks.”

The Eagles are known for their wheeling and dealing at the

draft. They’ve made 29 trades during the draft over the last eight

years, including 16 in the past three drafts and six last year.

They moved out of the first round in 2007 and made Kolb their

first overall pick in the second round. They moved up to get

defensive end Brandon Graham last year and wide receiver Jeremy

Maclin in ’09.

”We’re open to explore any options that we think make us

better, and whether that’s moving up or moving down, we’re

definitely open,” Roseman said.

If they stay put, there are several ways the Eagles can go at

No. 23 in next week’s draft. The defending NFC East champions need

to upgrade their secondary and offensive and defensive lines.

Cornerback is a major need because Philadelphia doesn’t have

either of their starting right cornerbacks from last season – Ellis

Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson – under contract. Hobbs is unlikely to

play again because of injuries.

Colorado’s Jimmy Smith should be on the board when the Eagles

pick. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Smith received first-team All-Big 12

honors from the league’s coaches. He had 70 tackles and five pass

breakups, and only allowed one touchdown in man coverage all

season. He didn’t have any interceptions because teams rarely threw

his direction.

The concern about Smith is off-field issues, including two

arrests for underage drinking while he was at Colorado. Smith

visited the Eagles and had a good interview with team

officials.

”I think we wanted to make sure that we knew him. Jimmy’s a

good guy to talk to,” Roseman said. ”He’s enjoyable to talk to,

he’s got great energy and he did a great job when he was

here.”

LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara are

expected to be the first two cornerbacks selected. They’ll be long

gone by the time the Eagles pick unless Roseman engineers a trade

into the top 10 or 15. That would’ve been possible if the lockout

hadn’t prevented Philadelphia from moving Kolb, who lost his

starting job to Michael Vick.

”There are a couple of guys at the top who are very talented

and probably will go early,” Roseman said of the cornerback crop.

”Then there’s a group that I think if you took 32 teams, you’re

probably going to have 32 different draft boards of the next five

or six guys and when they come off and how they have them ranked. I

think people are just going to take who they like with that. I

think in years past, there’s more consensus top five and right now

I think you’d get a lot of different views on the top-five

corners.”

The offensive line is an area the Eagles must address in the

draft, though Roseman doesn’t seem impressed enough to take a

lineman in the first round.

”I think this year we talk about the top not being as strong as

it’s been in years past, but maybe the depth is there more so than

in years past throughout the draft,” he said.

The Eagles have lacked a standout pass rusher and could take a

defensive end in the first round for the second straight year.

Graham had a disappointing rookie season and isn’t expected to be

ready for the start of the season after having surgery to repair a

torn knee ligament last December.

Poor performance from the ends cost defensive line coach Rory

Segrest his job, and the Eagles hired longtime Tennessee Titans

assistant Jim Washburn to replace him.

”I think the defensive linemen are so enticing and there are so

many of them that those are the guys that people are looking for,”

Roseman said. ”Obviously, it’s hard to find defensive linemen in

this league, guys who can get pressure on the quarterback, and this

draft has a lot of them.”

This is one year where teams could stick with the old

best-player-available approach. The draft is usually a last resort

for teams to fill needs, but free agency – assuming the lockout

ends at some point – will give GMs a chance to get players that can

come in and start right away.

”I think that you’re able to go and get the best players

regardless of positions, because at some point you’re going to have

another avenue to address those needs and fill them,” Roseman

said. ”So usually at this time of year, you’ve gone through free

agency, the bulk of the players have been signed and you go into

the draft saying, ‘I still don’t have this. For us to compete at

the highest level, we probably have to fill that.’ Now, you’re kind

of open. You can take anyone, and then eventually when it comes

around, those other avenues to address, if I need something on a

short-term basis I can go get it.”