What a day! Draft day trades between division rivals are rare and a deal between teams like the Eagles and Cowboys are rarely ever heard of, but that's exactly what happened Saturday when the two teams pulled off a deal to bring the Birds more draft picks in exchange for letting their hated rivals move up in the pecking order.
The deal brought the Eagles picks in the second, third and fifth rounds in exchange for their first round pick (26th). Dallas took Anthony Spencer, a defensive end out of Purdue, with their newly acquired first round pick. The move only dropped the Birds down ten spots and they used the pick to take a quarterback.
Kevin Kolb wasn't the highest rated quarterback on the board when the Eagles made their first selection, but he was the guy that they tabbed. The University of Houston quarterback was suitably surprised. "It was a shock," said Kolb of being picked where he was. Kolb would now be the heir-apparent to replace Donovan McNabb, a task that he's willing to undertake. "That is the reason they took me, that’s the reason they had faith in my skills in what I do and I am anxious to get behind these older guys and get to learn from them over the next however long," explained Kolb.
While others didn't have Kolb rated as the best overall player - or even the hightest rated quarterback available - Andy Reid feels differently. "For the first time since I’ve been here, we’ve actually been able to sit there during the draft and take the best player we thought was on the board at that time," said Reid of drafting Kolb. The Eagles' head coach was quick to kill any thought that their selection of a quarterback was a sign that Donovan McNabb wouldn't be ready to open the season. "I’d like to make it very clear that this is not about [QB] Donovan McNabb and his progress. He’s doing great and is going to continue to do great. He’s going to have a heck of a year and years to come," stressed Reid. "This was strictly sticking to what we had on the [draft] board and taking the best player at that time, and obviously we did it through a trade down, out of that 26th pick there."
As for dealing with the Cowboys, Reid said it was a deal that was handled at the highest levels, with owner Jeffrey Lurie working out the deal. "What we do is break up who’s going to call who, and it’s memoed by who’s most familiar with whom, and Jeff obviously has a great relationship with Jerry and Jerry does a lot of deals. So, that’s what Jeffrey did; he talked with Jerry and did a great job there," explained Reid of the deal that could wind up being somewhat controversial if Spencer were to come in and help the Cowboys defense to any great extent.
With their own second round pick, the Birds made a more conventional move when they selected DE Victor Abiamiri out of Notre Dame. Abiamiri isn't regarded as a sure thing after a senior season that a lot of experts considered somewhat disappointing. The Eagles could use some help at the defensive end position, although they do have a number of defensive ends on the roster, and will look for Abiamiri to get his game turned around so he can have an impact with the team in the very near future. Abiamiri believes he can contribute sooner rather than later. "I believe so. I am going to go into the season with high expectations in myself. I am going to go in ready to compete and learn from the older guys. Hopefully, I will see the field on Sundays," said Abiamiri in a conference call after being drafted by the Eagles.
Reid thinks that Abiamiri will provide some quality competition and he just couldn't resist adding another defensive lineman when they had the chance to grab Abiamiri. "Well again, if they’re good ones, they’re hard to find. I always look to upgrade the lines, and I want great competition there. If there’s a good one sitting there, I’m going to take him, and I felt this kid was good [DE Victor Abiamiri]," said Reid.
The Eagles used the third rounder acquired from the Cowboys to take LB Stewart Bradley from Nebraska. Bradley could be the first day sleeper for the Eagles as a lot of draft gurus see him as an underrated player who may be best off shifting from outside linebacker to inside linebacker in the NFL. There are holes in Bradley's pass coverage abilities, but he's solid against the run.
The day ended with the Eagles going after Penn State running back Tony Hunt with the 90th overall pick. The Birds like Hunt's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and are cautiously optimistic that his penchant for letting go of the football is something that they can cure.
The fact that the Eagles didn't draft any help for their secondary on day one is surprising, but Reid thinks the team is okay with the players that they've got on the roster. "I think we have pretty good players there. We’re okay there," said Reid of his secondary players. Coming into the draft, their secondary seemed to be the area that they would look to find help for, but they didn't address that need at all with any of their four picks.