The Philadelphia Eagles are attempting to achieve football nirvana by strengthening their roster while weakening an opponent’s.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Eagles — who own the No. 12 overall pick — are actively trying to “get ahead” of the Dallas Cowboys (No. 10) in Thursday night’s opening round of the 2021 NFL Draft, initiating multiple calls to teams within the top-10. The goal, per Fowler, would be to secure one of the top cornerbacks, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.
“The Eagles have been active this week with phone calls on a potential move-up. Multiple teams in that range think Philly might be trying to get ahead of Dallas for one of the top corners. Some NFC East jockeying going on,” Fowler tweeted Thursday morning.
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Dallas ‘Locked’ on Corner
If the Cowboys somehow, someway don’t acquire Florida tight end Kyle Pitts — and that remains unlikely — they are virtually guaranteed to target the best available defender, two of whom lead their Big Board as of Thursday.
Per Mike Fisher of CowboysSI.com, Dallas is “leaning” toward Horn but would be “ecstatic” if Surtain was the selection. Fisher also noted the potential for trade activity around the team’s slot, activity that could manifest from Philadelphia.
“Yes, Carolina (at No. 8) likes Horn – but a source tells us the Panthers will be listening to New England trade offers there, the Patriots aiming for a QB. Yes, a team behind Dallas (the Eagles?) might explore trading up for Surtain,” he wrote.
Countless mock drafts have pegged Horn or Surtain to the Cowboys and owner/general manager Jerry Jones acknowledged if indirectly the likelihood of either’s addition.
“I think that we’ve got a good chance to have a top defensive player, the top or one of the top, be there at No. 10,” Jones said Tuesday.
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay reported Monday that, barring a move for Pitts or trade down the board, Surtain-to-Dallas “is a lock.”
“Listen, I think Kyle Pitts could be a Hall-of-Fame tight end,” McShay said on The Ryen Russillo Podcast. “He has the highest grade I’ve ever given to a tight end in 20 years, but it’s going to cost quarterback kind of compensation to go up and get that guy. You’re talking maybe two first-rounders and a third or something like that to get a tight end, which is a tough pill to swallow. But I’m told that Dallas, if they stay at 10, Patrick Surtain, the cornerback from Alabama, is a lock.”
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All the Surtain Smoke
It isn’t just Surtain’s father, former Dolphins Pro Bowl CB Patrick Surtain Sr., who believes his son is a “perfect fit” for the Cowboys and new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Several NFL insiders have continually connected the Crimson Tide standout to Quinn and Co. throughout the last month.
“The expectation is a corner will come off the board at No. 10, to the point that other corner-hungry teams have explored moving up to leapfrog the Cowboys,” ports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote on April 26. “I’ve heard Dallas most connected to Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, who would be a middle-of-the-fairway pick and an ideal fit for Dan Quinn’s new defense, though I’d assume South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn would be in play too. If not a corner? Maybe an offensive lineman.”
“My No. 1 defensive player in the draft is Patrick Surtain II – and he’ll likely go No. 8 to Carolina, if Penei Sewell isn’t there. If not, Denver. He doesn’t get past Dallas,” Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline said on April 21.
“Cowboys are well-stocked at tight end. They won’t be drafting Kyle Pitts this month (and likely won’t have opportunity at No. 10). Feel pretty Surtain of it,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweeted on April 7.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL