Eagles draft notes: Struggling Saints, possible first-round options

Jalen Hurts #1, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jalen Hurts #1, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Eagles currently hold a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft.

He’s done it again. Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman has to be given some credit. Not only are the Birds holding strong this season with an undefeated record, but they also currently have ownership of the fourth overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft thanks to a New Orleans Saints season that isn’t going according to their plan. While there is still a lot of football left to play, this is a massive win for Philly if all things continue to fall their way.

Let’s take a look at how the Eagles got here. Last season, they walked into the selection meeting with three first-round picks: one via Indianapolis that they acquired in a deal for quarterback Carson Wentz, one via Miami in a pick-swap that eventually led to the selection of DeVonta Smith, and their original selection.

As the 2022 draft approached, the Eagles made a blockbuster (and frankly, kind of confusing) trade with the New Orleans Saints that included some first-round movement. The Eagles traded two of their 2022 first-round picks along with the 194th-overall selection for a haul of Saints’ picks, including their first-rounders for 2022 and 2023, the 101st and the 237th selection in 2022, and a second-rounder in 2024.

In the end, neither team used those first-round picks on draft selections as both teams used their selections as collateral to move up the board and select their desired players, but in the end, the Birds still have possession of the Saints’ first-rounder this year, and with the way things are going in the Big Easy, it’s beginning to look like they could enter the postseason knowing that they can still snag a top-ten talent that could be a difference-maker in the organization for years to come.

Let’s talk about those Saints and some possible first-round options next offseason.

Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles
Miles Sanders #26, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Saints may continue to struggle which benefits the Eagles long-term.

This clearly isn’t what the Saints were hoping for. They own a winning percentage of .250 with only one triumph versus three losses. If the season ended today, they’d own the fourth-overall selection which, again, the Eagles have possession of, and that’s only a portion of the problem.

New Orleans dealt with roster turnover this off-season, and their corrections aren’t leading to wins. When free agency began, they were $75 million over the cap, and that meant they couldn’t afford to sign or retain many of their star players. They lost key starters such as Terron Armstead and Kwon Alexander. They eventually lost all of their top three safeties: Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Their bad luck has carried over into the 2022 regular season. Injuries are mounting as quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Michael Thomas, running back Alvin Kamara, guard Andrus Peat, and safety Marcus Maye have all gone down.

While rookie Chris Olave has exceeded expectations in his first year, it hasn’t been enough to separate the Saints from the NFL’s bottom-feeders. First-round pick Trevor Penning, second-round pick Alonte Taylor, fifth-round pick D’Marco Jackson, and undrafted free agent Smoke Monday all have made their way to the injured reserve meaning their only healthy draftee other than Olave is sixth-round pick Jordan Jackson. He’s on the practice squad.

The Saints are also hoping someone steps up. So far, that hasn’t happened. Keep an eye on former first-rounder Payton Turner, who was underwhelming for New Orleans during his rookie year. He’s hoping for a better sophomore season.

All of these factors, combined with the fact that this is the first year since 2006 where the Saints have a head coach not named Sean Payton (aside from 2012 and the Bountygate scandal), and the 2023 season looks bleak for the Saints and their fans.