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NFL Draft: 2014 Eagles, Browns may have laid groundwork for Lions to trade down in 2017

Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton helps us revisit a draft day trade that could give us better insight into what the Lions could get in return for their pick at 21.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In 2014, the Eagles dealt the 22nd overall pick in the draft to Cleveland in exchange for two picks: The 26th pick and their third-round pick—83rd overall. Cleveland infamously moved up to select a quarterback out of Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel while Philadelphia drafted defensive end Marcus Smith II from Louisville.

To make some sense of the deal, and to gather some intel of how this draft day deal could inform us of the possible return for the Lions at 21, Brandon Lee Gowton of was kind enough to answer a few questions about the deal.

Q: In the weeks leading up to the draft, did it seem like the Eagles had an eye on a certain position to upgrade or a particular prospect they were targeting?

A: Wide receiver and cornerback were the two biggest needs for the Eagles back then which is pretty depressing because the same can be said for the current roster.

Eagles fans wanted a wide receiver the most and Marqise Lee was the most popular realistic target.

Many figured Lee was going to be the pick because the Eagles showed a lot of interest in him leading up to the draft. When Chip Kelly was coaching at Oregon, he once said: “Lee may be the best receiver I've had the opportunity to coach against. He's impressive on film but even more impressive [in person.]”

Q: When the trade was made with the Browns, was there a sense that the Eagles made the right deal to move back?

A: People weren’t upset about trading back. They were just upset about the pick itself: Marcus Smith.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know the Eagles had six players they wanted at No. 22: Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, C.J. Mosley, Kyle Fuller, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. It seemed like the Eagles might get one of those players, but the Saints traded up to get Cooks and the Packers took Clinton-Dix. So the Eagles were stuck at No. 22 having none of the targets they wanted. Trading down was the right move. Again, it’s just that they made the wrong pick.

Q: What were your thoughts about what Philadelphia got in exchange for the 22nd pick?

A: The Eagles got No. 26 and No. 83 in exchange for No. 22. On the draft value chart, the Eagles got 875 points in exchange for 780 points. I know the chart isn’t perfect, but that seems pretty good to me.

With the benefit of hindsight once again, the picks didn’t turn out to be so great, though. The Eagles traded No. 83 for No. 101 and No. 141 from the Texans. They got Jaylen Watkins—backup safety who they once cut—and Taylor Hart—defensive tackle who now converted to offensive tackle—with those selections.

Q: Do you wish Johnny Manziel would have been the Eagles quarterback in 2014?

A: Haha, of course not. But then again, maybe playing Manziel would have helped the Eagles be bad and get Marcus Mariota

If anything, I wished the Eagles drafted Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater—mostly Carr though—that year. I didn’t buy into Foles’ fluky 2013 season. I wish the Eagles could have traded him while his value was high and gotten a real talented young QB prospect instead. Or at least some insurance to have behind him if he turned out to be fool’s gold—or Foles gold—which he did.

Alright, so what does this have anything to do with the Lions? Well, look at Detroit’s position in this year’s draft—currently slated to make a pick at No. 21 in the draft, Detroit has a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball. Last week, I talked about how the Lions would stand to benefit from finding a trade partner interested in acquiring the 21st pick in order to acquire more picks.

In Chris Burke’s most recent mock draft for Sports Illustrated, he had the Lions making a trade in the first round:

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

After revisiting the Eagles deal in 2014 with Gowton, it’s pretty clear to me that Burke’s deal isn’t enough for Detroit, though. According to the draft trade chart, the 21st overall pick is worth 800 points, and what Detroit is getting in return from Kansas City only adds up to 766 points of draft capital. The chart isn’t perfect, as Gowton mentioned, but Detroit could do better, and I wouldn’t see them settling for a trade like this. Something like No. 27 and No. 91 would be something much more reasonable and similar to the deal Philadelphia got in return from Cleveland in 2014.

But hey, you know who still doesn’t have a quarterback after trading up in the draft to get one in 2014? Imagine an entirely plausible draft day scenario in which the Browns, a team with 11 draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, choose to not use either the No. 1 or No. 12 picks in the draft to take a quarterback. After Cleveland picks at 12, there are maybe two teams that would consider taking a QB before the Lions pick at No. 21: The Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Redskins.

If any of the many quarterbacks earning first round consideration among teams are still there at 21, and the Browns are interested in re-entering the first round, Detroit owns a spot they would ideally like to move up to in order to ensure their guy is there. The Giants (No. 23) and Saints (No. 32) are teams that could be targeting a quarterback to be eventual successors to Eli Manning and Drew Brees respectively. If the Texans don’t land Tony Romo, they’re a prime candidate to take a QB at No. 25.

Here’s another mock trade worth considering for Detroit:

  • Detroit trades No. 21 to Cleveland.
  • Cleveland trades No. 33 and No. 65 to Detroit.

If the Reuben Foster’s and Haason Reddick’s of the draft are gone, and there are no more Taco Charlton’s or Derek Barnett’s to be found at 21, why not move back and add two more picks? If the guy Detroit wants isn’t there, they could move back and then own four picks between 33 and 85.

What Gowton didn’t like about the Eagles deal with the Browns wasn’t the return, it was the results. The draft continues to be an uncertainty, but what is certain is that the more picks you have, and the more apt you are in identifying talent, the better chance you have at landing difference makers and getting more value. Bob Quinn’s first draft as a GM, especially in those first three rounds, have provided some good returns—three starting caliber players in Taylor Decker, A’Shawn Robinson and Graham Glasgow. Making a draft day deal, like in either of the scenarios outlined above, would go a long way towards improving Detroit’s defense in 2017.