Trade-happy Eagles OK with dealing first-round draft pick

PHILADELPHIA -- Teams looking for a quarterback could have the 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 team that needs a quarterback. That's because Philadelphia holds the No. 23 pick in the first round in a draft in which several quarterbacks 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 take 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 its 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 Conference honors from the league's coaches. He had 70 tackles and five pass breakups, and he 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-the-field issues, including two arrests for underage drinking while he was at Colorado. But 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 have 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 consecutive 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.

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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 when teams could stick with the old best-player-available approach. The draft usually is 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."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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