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Philadelphia Eagles ‘expected’ to trade up in NFL Draft, 3 potential targets

Matt Johnson

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is known for wheeling and dealing, especially during the NFL Draft. Already having made one first-round pick swap with the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles might have even bigger moves planned for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Holding the 15th and 18th overall selections in Round 1, Philadelphia can move in a variety of directions. The 2022 draft class is deep, with plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball. It works out nicely for a franchise that is looking to build one of the best NFL defenses in 2022.

Roseman certainly knows the top prospects on defense will likely be off the board by the time NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the Eagles are on the clock Thursday evening in Las Vegas. It’s why, per James Palmer of NFL Media, the Eagles are looking to move into the top 10 of the first round. This followed another report last week suggesting the same thing.

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The expectation going into the first round is that the Eagles won’t pick at their current slots (No. 15 and No. 18). At No. 15, they are likely to miss out on the blue-chip talent on defense, so there stands a strong possibility that Roseman looks to jump in the 10-13 range to nab an elite prospect 

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It would be a smart decision. Among the top defensive talents available this year – Derek Stingley Jr, Kyle Hamilton and Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner – none are expected to make it past the 12th pick. If Roseman wants one of them, he’ll need to go up and draft them.

Related: Top 2022 NFL Draft prospects

Evaluating best defensive prospects for Philadelphia Eagles

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The Philadelphia Eagles defense didn’t perform at an elite level in 2021. However, it showed signs of becoming one of the best units in the NFL with some talent reinforcement. If the right pieces are added, a group that allowed the eighth-fewest yards per play (5.2) could make strides.

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One of the biggest areas to improve is the pass defense. Philadelphia allowed a 95.4 passer rating this past season with opposing quarterbacks completing a league-high 69.4% of their pass attempts. Not only was the Eagles’ secondary an issue, but its pass rush also ranked 22nd in pressure rate (24%).

Fortunately, there are a few 2022 draft prospects who could change things.

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Kyle Hamilton, safety, Notre Dame

philadelphia eagles tade up for kyle hamilton
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

While Hamilton gets knocked for his lack of speed, he’s one of the best safeties to enter the NFL Draft in recent years. This is a 6-foot-4 defensive back who can do everything on the field. He offers elite instincts, covers incredible ground despite a slower 40 time and is extremely physical.

There are some Derwin James comparisons and that’s precisely the type of impact defender Philly needs roaming in its secondary. Trading up to the 9th pick, at the cost of a Round 3 selection, would be worth it.

Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback, LSU

Those who watched Stingley Jr. in his freshman season felt confident he would be a future star in the NFL. He lived out the dream 2019 season, playing at an elite level and winning a championship. When LSU’s football program fell apart and Stingley dealt with injuries, his play dropped off. Now that he’s healthy, he’ll buy-in to a competitive atmosphere that loves football. On the field, he brings the combo of size, athleticism, instincts and change of direction to be a No. 1 cornerback.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge rusher, Oregon

If the Philadelphia Eagles want Thibodeaux, it might require moving up to the 5th overall pick. He gets some knocks for his personality, but the talent warrants a No. 1 overall pick. We’ve seen the Eagles’ coaching staff get a lot out of players with less talent. Thibodeaux can step in right away as a three-down player and make an impact. In the best-case scenario, Philly will have a perennial Pro Bowl edge rusher with a swagger that fans grow to love.