While most of the reaction to Philadelphia's trading of Donovan McNabb to Washington has focused on McNabb and his replacement in Philadelphia, Kevin Kolb, we could see the real impact of the deal in two weeks - when the NFL Draft is held. The Eagles collected an extra second-round pick in the blockbuster trade, giving a young team with holes to fill a total of 11 draft selections -- three in the top 55.
As much as Philadelphia could use those picks to replenish a roster in flux, it might not be the biggest player during the draft. To no surprise, that honor could end up with the kings of stockpiling draft picks: the Patriots.
New England has a dozen draft picks -- four in the top 53, three of them in the second round. The Pats don't have any third- or fifth-round choices but the way Bill Belichick operates, they very well could by the end of Day 1 of the draft -- a first-round only debut -- when they (for now) select 22nd overall.
Tampa Bay doesn't even have to make one trade to possibly upset the order of things. The Bucs, who have 11 total draft picks, are heavy on the front end, holding picks No. 3, 35 and 42. Should things stay the course, their first selection in the second round would come two spots before Philadelphia (No. 37). Tampa Bay's next second-round pick is two slots before New England's first second-round pick (44).
Cleveland, which holds the seventh overall selection, has pick No. 38 overall, which falls behind Tampa Bay and Philly in the second round but is still before any of the Patriots' second-round picks. Still, with the trio of second-rounders, New England has the flexibility to move in either direction to draft the players it wants. It just has to contend with some teams with similar chips to gamble and similar voids to address.
Let's take a look at the possible shell game between two perennial winners and two of the NFL's worst teams over the past few seasons:
When I spoke with second-year coach Raheem Morris at the recent league meetings, he was confident that, along with GM Mark Dominik, the Bucs can put some impact pieces in place quickly. At No. 3, they figure to end up with either DT Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. They love safety Eric Berry but they need a defensive tackle. Suh or McCoy is The Guy with the top pick.
With the third pick of the second round, they could address defensive end, with someone like Brandon Graham or Everson Griffen, or a safety like Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett or South Florida's Nate Allen. Of this group, only Philadelphia seemingly would try to move up and possibly get ahead of the Bucs to poach a safety or defensive end.
Tampa also holds the 10th pick in the second round and could use that on the position they didn't address with the first second-round pick. This also is a valuable chip for a trade up or back.
The Bucs got very little out of last season's draft outside of starting quarterback Josh Freeman and seventh-round wide receiver Sammie Stroughter. They haven't had a really strong draft in years, hence, the demise of the franchise. They have to get things right; otherwise, the abundance of quality draft picks won't mean much and a turnover at the top could follow the 2010 season.
Like New England, the Browns play a 3-4 defense -- so the players they want on that side of the ball could be similar, leading to some potential jockeying between the teams as the draft moves on.
Berry would seem like the perfect fit for Cleveland with the No. 7 overall pick. He's arguably the top player in the draft. If he's there when the Browns pick -- Kansas City (5) and Seattle (6) could surprise with Berry, even though both figure to address their offensive lines -- he could develop into an Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu type. Cornerback Joe Haden also is a possibility. With DT Shaun Rogers' recent arrest for carrying a gun through an airport, a nose tackle, like Tennessee's Dan Williams, can't be ruled out.
New team president Mike Holmgren could also pull a stunner and nab a QB, like Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen. He may have said he wished he liked him more but we'll see if he changes his opinion after Clausen's pro day April 9.
The Eagles select one spot ahead of Cleveland (38) in the second round with the draft pick they acquired from Washington in the McNabb deal. This is where things could get interesting if both teams are eying quarterbacks. Although Kolb is Philadelphia's starting quarterback, it figures to draft one to develop for the future.
The Eagles will never admit it, but they will be trying to justify their trade of McNabb not only with the play of Kolb, but with this draft -- particularly the second-rounder they got for McNabb. For that reason, it's hard to think Philadelphia would use the 37th pick to trade back. If it works best that way, then the savvy Eagles won't hesitate.
With the 24th overall pick, Philadelphia chooses later than Tampa, Cleveland or New England in the first round. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap could be in play but so could USC safety Taylor Mays. If, for some reason, Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon is still available, which seems unlikely this far back, this could be a no-brainer.
Having another selection seven picks and several hours later (the second round starts the day after Round 1) allows it to nab another impact prospect with the McNabb pick. Might it be a QB? McCoy, Tebow, Tony Pike? What an irony that would be.
The Eagles also pick 55th overall with their second second-rounder (a perimeter defender -- OLB, DE, CB -- or safety would seem on tap). Including that choice, they have five picks through the fourth round. It would be hard to think they won't be active in trades with those options.
Of the Pats' 12 picks, five are in the seventh and final round. That's nothing to thumb your nose at. New England has landed some impressive late-round picks including WR Julian Edelman in the seventh-round last season. Even if Belichick had five picks, it's almost a certainty he'd be active in the trade market.
Last season, New England's willingness to trade greatly helped out other teams in the draft.
The Pats moved back three spots from No. 23 in a trade with Baltimore, which the Ravens used on OT Michael Oher. New England then dealt the 26th selection to Green Bay, which the Packers used on OLB Clay Matthews. The Pats traded out of the first round altogether and used their three second-round picks on DB Patrick Chung, DT Ron Brace and CB Darius Butler -- developmental players they hope pay huge dividends in 2010.
New England, which has more holes to fill than in recent years, needs to find more impact in this draft.
It holds the 22nd overall pick, a slot which it could easily move back from if the player it wants is gone. Penn State DL Jared Odrick could really help the defensive line at end but the Pats could go in several directions, including wide receiver (Demaryius Thomas), outside linebacker, or running back (Cal's Jahvid Best).
It has three second-round selections within 10 slots of each other (44, 47 and 53). Some serious damage could be done with those picks and the Pats' phones figure to be ringing with calls from teams wanting in. With no third-round or fifth-round choices in a deep draft, New England could be willing to deal.
A lot of people -- myself included -- think Tebow could develop in the Patriots' system and be used in some different roles other than quarterback while he evolves. With Tebow gaining some momentum, it will be interesting to see if the Pats select him with their current first-round pick (I don't think so); trade back in the round to get him (maybe); or use a second-round choice for the pick or as trade bait to position themselves to acquire him.