PHILADELPHIA -- It is unavoidable. Whatever you think of the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to trade up for quarterback Carson Wentz in the NFL draft, there will be some mental scorekeeping for the next decade or so.
You may feel the Eagles overspent, trading five draft picks and three players to move up from No. 13 to No. 2 overall. You may feel that Wentz will be a franchise quarterback, a commodity worth almost any price a team can pay.
But the simple truth is, the Eagles’ moves provided plenty of fodder for future comparisons. And it is in the nature of sports fans (and sports media) to make those comparisons at key times.
The most obvious comparison to Wentz will be Jared Goff, the Cal quarterback who went to the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 1 overall pick. The Eagles didn’t have an opportunity to take Goff, of course, so there isn’t much to say if Goff winds up being the better player.
But the Eagles’ selection of Donovan McNabb always looked that much better because the Cleveland Browns opted to take Tim Couch with the No. 1 overall pick. McNabb went second and Akili Smith went to Cincinnati at No. 3.
The only other first-round quarterback taken this year was Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, who went at No. 26 to Denver. That had some impact on the Eagles, since there was at least some chance the Broncos would be willing to trade for Sam Bradford. With Lynch on board, Denver is likely set for this season.
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State. The New York Jets took Hackenberg fairly high, with the 51st overall pick in the second round. Hackenberg will get a chance to play in Chan Gailey’s offense. For the Eagles, the risk is that Hackenberg is as good or better than Wentz.
That would look bad, considering the Jets got Hackenberg late in the second round, while the Eagles gave up picks and players to get Wentz. And the Jets were more desperate for a quarterback than the Eagles were.
Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State. This one is interesting because it was the New England Patriots who selected Brissett in the third round. The Patriots’ success has earned the organization a measure of respect for all of its personnel moves.
And it’s not like Tom Brady is going to start getting younger.
Connor Cook, Michigan State. The Oakland Raiders took Cook in the fourth round. Oakland took Derek Carr in the second round two years ago, a few picks after the Eagles took defensive end Marcus Smith.
If the Eagles had selected Carr there, they might not have been in a position where they needed to mortgage so much of their future for Wentz. And of course, there is always the chance that Cook will be a better pro than Wentz.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State. There was discussion about whether the Dallas Cowboys should have been focused on an eventual replacement for Tony Romo at the top of the draft. The Cowboys got Ezekiel Elliott, who could give the Eagles fits for years to come.
But Dallas also drafted Prescott in the fourth round. In a year when there was a range of quarterbacks without an obvious, surefire franchise player, it is possible that any of them could turn out to be a star. Prescott would be especially painful for Eagles fans.
Cardale Jones, Ohio State. This is what makes the NFL draft so puzzling in a way. Jones had great success for one of the best major-college football programs in the nation. But here he was, going to Buffalo in the fourth round of the draft.
Yes, scouts evaluate players based on athletic ability, physical attributes and other factors. That is certainly important. But there ought to be some value in, you know, winning football games against good opponents.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford. The Eagles spent some time with Hogan during the pre-draft process. They chose Wentz, in spite of the enormous cost in moving up.
So Reid will work with a fifth-round pick while Reid protégé Doug Pederson works with Wentz. It will be interesting to see which one turns out better. That is how these moves are evaluated over time. This one should have some repercussions for years to come.