NFL draft rumors: Eagles could go off-board with first round pick

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Adam Hermann
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Report: Eagles might take unexpected player with first pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles are just hours away from making their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, and fans have their eyes solidly affixed on two high-value positions: wide receiver and cornerback.

So would it surprise you to hear that the front office may be thinking about zigging instead of zagging at the last minute?

There are still so many variables that will affect what the Eagles can and will do, in large part because there are 11 teams ahead of the Eagles in the draft order, but according to a report Thursday evening from NFL Network's Stacey Dales, who is stationed at the Eagles' NovaCare Complex for Draft night, the team might be thinking about players outside of the two most popular positions (h/t Brandon Lee Gowton):

"We all talk about wide receiver and cornerback being huge positions of need, but don’t be surprised if it’s somebody else. It may not be the perfect position, I’m told, it’s going to be the player. It may not be the position everyone thinks based upon the biggest need at the moment, but it’s going to be a really good player at a position this franchise needs in 2021, 22, 23, 24, and beyond."

Here we go.

Now, it's important to note that Dales isn't saying the Eagles *will* take a position other than cornerback or wide receiver. There's a perfectly good chance they take DeVonta Smith at No. 12 and Eagles fans are thrilled.

But this line in her reporting sticks out to me in a big way:

"It may not be the position everyone thinks based up on the biggest need at the moment..."

What positions feel at least somewhat secure right now for the Eagles? Your first two thoughts are probably offensive line and defensive line. The biggest question mark on the OL is left tackle - is Jordan Mailata a viable long-term starter? Can Andre Dillard win the job? - and the biggest question mark on the DL is finding a long-term replacement for Brandon Graham's consistency production, considering Graham just turned 33 years old.

Are there some guys who are at the fringe of the No. 12 pick who fit those positions? You bet.

Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater is widely considered the second-best offensive lineman in the draft. He wouldn't feel like a reach at No. 12, but he might underwhelm some fans.

Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye is a likely Top 20 pick, as is Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. We know how much Howie Roseman loves himself a defensive lineman.

Then you think about any other positions that aren't big needs, and the biggest question of all comes up... is Dales talking quarterback? If one of the Big 5 are still available when the Eagles pick, do they pounce? 

Much like last year's chaotic draft, it sounds like we're in for a roller coaster of a night.

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