The Philadelphia Eagles continuously talked about the draft process about how much they really liked Josh Jacobs, starting with Doug Pederson and the numerous reports linking them to the former Alabama running back. Philadelphia’s constant praise of Jacobs had one team mortified the Eagles were actually going to select him.
The Eagles traded up three spots in the draft from No. 25 to No. 22, giving up a fourth-round pick and six-round pick to move up and get the player they wanted: offensive tackle Andre Dillard. The Oakland Raiders were the team that believed they lost out on Jacobs once the Eagles traded up, as Peter King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column.
“The coach, Jon Gruden, who’d irascibly told Mayock he’d better not screw up the Raiders’ three-pick first round, jumped out of his chair, seething. ‘There goes our running back,’ Gruden said. Coach and GM knew the Eagles loved the same player they did, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, and now, moving up from 25 in trade, the Eagles would be in position to steal the guy Gruden had his heart set on making one of the three cornerstone players in his offense.”
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The Eagles traded up to get Dillard, a franchise left tackle that will be the inevitable successor for Jason Peters. Dillard fell to the early 20s on the draft board, making the Eagles core values (using early round picks on the offensive and defensive lines) hard to pass up when a franchise left tackle is there for the taking.
“That wasn’t really what we had anticipated,” said Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman. “When we look at kind of how drafts go, our evaluation was this was the best tackle in the draft, and so usually those guys go in the top 10. That’s how we had him rated. When he started to fall, we just saw an opportunity to get a top 10 player. Again, when you have a top 10 player at an important position, it doesn’t matter about the depth on our team. We’re trying to load up on the lines. We’ve talked about that a lot with you guys, and that’s how we roll.
“He’s got great feet. Really, really smooth pass protector, long arms, big hands, great character. You can see a lot of things that we do offensively. At the same time, he’s also got room to grow. He hasn’t hit his ceiling.
“Obviously there’s a lot of conversations about his experience in that offense and the fact they throw the ball a lot, and what a great opportunity, again, to learn from Jason Peters, [offensive line] coach [Jeff] Stout[land], [head] coach [Doug] Pederson, our coaching staff and that O-line room. What a great room to learn from.”
The Eagles couldn’t pass up a top-10 player on their board, even jumping the Houston Texans for the opportunity to select Dillard. Houston drafted offensive tackle Tytus Howard at No. 23, leaving Jacobs available for the Raiders at No. 24.
Philadelphia and Oakland ended up getting the players they wanted. Houston got its offensive tackle, but lost out on the one they coveted.