The Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in the NFL and may end up with a top-five pick in the draft next April thanks to a trade last year that gifted them the New Orleans Saints' first-round pick in 2023. They can have their cake and eat it, too. Even an early playoff exit, while disappointing, could be offsest by overall optimism going forward due to the team's ability to add an elite talent to an already-good roster stacked with young stars.
There are still three weeks to go and the draft order can fluctuate greatly, especially for the Saints in a very bad NFC South. ESPN's projections as of now have the Eagles picking No. 5. What might they do with this pick? ESPN's top draft guru Todd McShay took a stab at it today in his first mock draft of the season and has the Eagles going with... a running back?
That's right. McShay suggests the Eagles would be smart to take superstar back Bijan Robinson out of Texas with the fifth overall pick. Here's his reasoning:
I know the "it's too early for a running back" arguments are coming, and I agree 99% of the time. But why spend heavily on re-signing Sanders or bringing in another back in free agency when Robinson -- who is an upgrade -- is available here on a rookie deal? Robinson cruised to 1,580 yards and 18 TDs on the ground this season while breaking 91 tackles. Dropping him into the league's best offense would be scary for every other team. Philly also has another first-rounder down the board ...
Robinson is a monster and certainly has the talent to justify a high pick despite his position. But while McShay makes a good point about not spending big on impending free agent Miles Sanders, it is worth questioning how important it is to have a star running back beside Jalen Hurts. Philly's offensive line is elite and makes Kenneth Gainwell look good. Sanders is a good player but how impactful are his talents compared to the blocking and constant threat of Hurts tucking and running?
At this stage in the NFL timeline, a running back needs to be nothing less than a Hall of Fame talent to justify going this high in the draft. Which sounds like a silly exaggeration, but it's true. If Robinson is merely great, the Eagles are still going to be very good but missed on a chance to add a long-term cornerstone on either side of the ball. A very good cornerback or defensive end for 10 years is more valuable than a great running back for five years when the offense already boasts a great QB and high-quality receivers.
The Eagles could ignore all this and turn instead to the fun factor, which is absolutely highest with a Robinson pick. He'd run roughshod in Philly's offense and it would be awesome. That is worth any long-term considerations to the viewers, at least.