Here's Why Eagles Will Go Defense at 12 After Howie Roseman Strikes Again

History and a real need to build that side of the ball makes the choice clear as to which side of the ball will be addressed, but which position on D?
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PHILADELPHIA - Howie Roseman struck again.

I think deep in our hearts we knew this was going to happen. We knew that the Eagles GM wasn’t going to sit still with the sixth pick in the draft. It’s just not in the nature of a man who, at the very least, likes to keep things interesting.

Instead, we got caught up in the will-he or won’t-he take a quarterback conversation. We got lost in the who-you-taking debate between Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase. We wanted him to not overthink it and take a player who can be an all-time memorable player in franchise history, the way Donovan McNabb was when he was taken second in 1999 and Lane Johnson is after being selected fourth in 2013.

It was just never meant to be.

Roseman moved from No. 6 to No. 12 in a Friday trade with the Miami Dolphins, executed after the Dolphins had just acquired the 49ers’ 12th overall pick.

It was as sudden as it was maddening

One minute, the Delaware Valley is stretching its collective limbs outdoors in the 80-degree temperatures, the next minute it was hamstring pulls all around..wait, what?

READ MORE: Eagles Howie Roseman Makes Blockbuster Deal - Sports ...

It was too good of a deal for Roseman to refuse. Hey, if the Dolphins want to give up a first-round pick in the 2022 draft to move up six spots, by all, means that would be hard to turn down for an Eagles team that is in a retooling mode.

Pick a position where the Eagles don’t need help. It can’t be done.

In theory, the more picks the better for the Eagles, though confidence in Roseman making the 11 he has this year and the two, and maybe three, first-rounders he has in 2022, is at rock bottom.

There are minuses to this deal, for sure.

The biggest one is the Eagles have now moved behind NFC East rivals Dallas and New York in the draft pecking order. The Cowboys go 10th, the Giants 11th, then the Eagles.

READ MORE: Deciphering the Eagles' Trade Back in the First Round ...

The last time the Eagles picked in this 10-to-15 range, they didn’t do badly at all, getting Brandon Graham 13th overall in 2010, Fletcher Cox 12th in 2012, and Derek Barnett 14th in 2017.

Sensing a trend here?

One, the Eagles can find an all-time franchise great at 12, and two, it’s defense.

That’s what the Eagles will do with this pick. They will go defense, at least in my estimation.

This draft looks unprecedented in terms of offensive players that will come off the draft board early.

In fact, it might not be until the Broncos make their pick at No. 9 that the first defender gets picked. Yes, eight offensive players could be the first eight players taken. That’s never happened.

The closest one side of the ball came to dominating the early picks was back in 1991 when six defensive players were taken before two tackles went back-to-back with picks seven and eight. They were Charles McCrae to the Bears and Antone Davis to the Eagles.

The Cowboys and Giants are probably going defense, too.

If it plays out that way, then the Eagles would get, presumably, the fourth-best defensive player in the class. Again, that is if Roseman and his staff are doing their evaluations properly.

So it's the fourth-best defender vs. the sixth-best offensive player had Roseman stayed put at 6.

READ MORE: Deciphering the Eagles' Trade Back in the First Round ...

It’s no secret what the Eagles need on that side of the ball.

Cornerback Darius Slay is as durable as they come, having missed just four games in the last four years, but he is 30 now and, more importantly, is a contract restructure that lowered his 2021 salary cap charge from $15.7 million to $7.1M but increased it to $22M next year.

There are several corners expected to go in the top 12 to 15, led by Alabama’s Patrick Surtain, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley. Northwestern's Greg Newsome and perhaps Georgia's Eric Stokes are also in the late first-round mix. 

Farley just had back surgery, which was believed to be minor. That is a medical red flag, though.

Horn had his pro day earlier in the week, and one of the NFL coaches running the drills was Eagles DB coach Dennard Wilson. Horn said he was scheduled to meet with Eagles officials afterward.

It would appear that the Pitts-Chase conversation could now pivot to Surtain-Horn, provided the Cowboys decide not to take a corner. Unlikely.

Nobody thinks the Eagles will take a linebacker because they never do that in the first round. 

Maybe the new coaching staff carries some sway and pines for a difference maker, and there are potentially two at that position that could turn the debate to Penn State’s Micah Parsons or Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

A defensive lineman could also make sense. Michigan’s edge rusher Kwity Paye had an eye-popping Pro Day on Friday, but this is a class without a bona fide stud defensive tackle or edge rusher.

So, it appears likely that, If Horn or Surtain are there, one will be their pick.

The Eagles will then come back in the second round – provided Roseman doesn’t get antsy and try to trade back into the bottom of the first round – and take a receiver.

Rashod Bateman would be nice, but a trade back into the bottom of the first would be needed to get the Minnesota pass-catcher.

If the Eagles stay put in the second round picking at No. 37 overall, then they could look toward WR's such as LSU’s Terrace Marshall or Florida’s Kadarius Toney.

After that, it will be more defense.

Stay tuned this week for some mock drafts by the staff here at SI.com’s Eagle Maven.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.