By Harry Allison
Remember a year ago when then-Eagles coach Chip Kelly was going to bet the farm and move up in the draft to take quarterback Marcus Mariota.
It never happened.
And now, 18 days ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft, new Eagles coach Doug Pederson is reportedly in love with another quarterback: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. And like Kelly with Mariota, Pederson is trying to figure out a way to land Wentz, who could go as high as No. 2 to the perennially QB-needy Browns.
Here’s the latest, courtesy of NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “Make no mistake about it, I still think the Eagles first and foremost are trying to find a way to get Carson Wentz,” Zierlein said during an appearance on 97.5 the Fanatic, via NJ.com. “I know Doug Pederson loves him. I know that from people behind the scenes, in the know. That’s who he wants and that’s who he likes. It’s just going to be tough.”
The good news: The Eagles moved up from the 13th to eighth in the draft order as a result of a trade with the Dolphins that included cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. But eighth overall almost certainly won’t be high enough to grab Wentz. That said, there’s no guarantee that the Browns will take him; last month, an NFL executive told Zierlein that Cleveland’s chief strategy officer, Paul DePodesta, “will want to get as many picks as possible out of this draft.”
So it sounds like the Browns would be amenable to trading out of that pick, but it’s unclear if the Eagles would be willing to give up all that’s required to move from No. 8 to No. 2. Should Wentz end up in Philly, that would be a wrap on the Bradford era, even though the team just signed him to a two-year, $36 million deal.
If the logistics don’t work out for the Eagles and Wentz, the team has other options in the draft; it’s why they’ve spent countless hours studying Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg and Dak Prescott.
“The talk of Philly moving up to get a quarterback was first mentioned to me at the combine,” CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco wrote in his latest mock draft, where he has the Eagles taking Lynch at No. 8. “When they did move up, I figured it had to be for a passer. General manager Howie Roseman talked up running backs recently, but we know better about taking one that high in the draft order.”
In less than three weeks, we’ll know for certain whether the Eagles’ 2016 quarterback plans include Wentz, or if it’s two more years of Bradford.