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The 2022 NFL Draft is just two days away, and behind-the-scenes discussions could lead to excitement fit for Las Vegas on Thursday night.
One potential player in some primetime theatrics: The Philadelphia Eagles, who have two first-round picks and have been among the most notable teams making calls about moving up.
"Moving up is a fascinating one because you do wonder if the Eagles move up from 15 -- of course they do have plenty of ammunition, two first-round picks -- who would they be targeting?" NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Tuesday's edition of NFL NOW. "Potentially, would a corner be someone they'd be targeting? Would it be an edge rusher? What if (Oregon edge rusher Kayvon) Thibodeaux slid? Lot of options here for the Philadelphia Eagles."
With an extra pick at its disposal thanks to the Carson Wentz trade from a year ago, Philadelphia seems to be in an ideal situation to possibly leap up in the draft order to take a player the club is coveting. The question, as Rapoport said, is who that player might be. This class is loaded with edge-rushing and receiving talent, and the Eagles have room to make quality additions at both spots.
Another team that could make some noise for a different reason is the Carolina Panthers, who own the sixth-overall pick and have a clear need at quarterback in a draft that isn't particularly strong at the position. Carolina could also use new talent at tackle, but if the top two tackles -- Alabama's Evan Neal and N.C. State's Ickey Ekwonu, in no specific order -- are both gone by the time the Panthers are on the clock, general manager Scott Fitterer might prefer to move back and pick up additional draft capital.
They also might not be alone in this approach.
"The Panthers at six, if the player, perhaps an offensive tackle they want, is not there, they'd be more than open to sliding back, picking up picks," Rapoport said. "They have no second-, no third-rounder. Then of course, the Giants have two picks in the first round. Pretty clear they'd like to back up from the second pick."
The New York Giants have multiple needs to address but are in an interesting spot at Nos. 5 and 7. The Giants are limited when it comes to available cap space ($5.5 million as of Tuesday, per Over The Cap), and selections at both spots would account for roughly $11 million in cap space in 2022. New York could very much use multiple first-round talents, but might have to find a way to blend need, salary constraints and preference for the best player available. A trade back would loosen the constraints of this situation, while also adding draft capital.
The general lesson learned from all of this: Despite a lack of quarterback buzz, we can expect some drama on Thursday night.
Here's what else we're monitoring Tuesday ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night:
- The Dallas Cowboys feel good about their roster ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. "I don't think we have any 'musts' going into the draft," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones at Tuesday's pre-draft press conference. Equipped with nine total picks, including the No. 24 overall selection, the defending NFC East champions do have needs on both sides of the trenches with former starters Connor Williams, La'el Collins and Randy Gregory now elsewhere. The Cowboys must also deal with the absence of last year's No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper after trading him to the Browns. Though CeeDee Lamb is poised to step up, Michael Gallup is still rehabbing from a late-season ACL tear and this year's crop of WRs is being seen as deeper than most positions. Jones wouldn't dive into specifics when evaluating certain prospects, but reminded reporters that "free agency is not over." That said, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told NFL Network's Jane Slater on Tuesday that they're "always talking about possibilities" in terms of calling other teams. Said Jones: "There's nothing dangerous thinking about crazy things."
- Don't expect the New York Giants to trade second-year wideout Kadarius Toney despite the rumors. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported on NFL NOW that there is "no doubt" the Giants have had some sort of conversation about Toney, but nothing has really come close to materializing in terms of a trade, according to sources. Who initiated the trade talk is unclear, per Garafolo, but his understanding is that it doesn't seem very likely they will move Toney in the near future.
- The Chicago Bears are heading into Las Vegas with an open mind despite not having a first-round pick. "I do think we will be in the business -- depending on where it is and what it looks like -- in moving back and trying to create more (draft capital)," first-year Bears GM Ryan Poles said Tuesday. After cleaning house to start their offseason, Chicago enters a rebuilding phase but seemingly have a head start considering they already have a potential franchise QB in Justin Fields. Protecting Fields will be a must going forward and adding a pass-catcher for him to grow with is ideal. The Bears posses two second-round picks among their grand total of six, for now.
- With several pressing needs on the roster, the Atlanta Falcons are at a crossroads entering the 2022 NFL Draft according to NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe. Equipped with the No. 8 overall pick, Atlanta is positioned well to get a top pass rusher and Florida State's Jermaine Johnson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux are two sensible picks, Wolfe said on NFL NOW. As for a quarterback for the future, another need in Atlanta, Wolfe said he hasn't heard much buzz on the Falcons selecting a QB at No. 8 but the team does like Malik Willis should they go that route. Wolfe adds that the Falcons need to get their first-round pick right given their current roster, which presents a "best player available" situation for a team with five picks in the first three rounds.
- Set to make that crucial pick, Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot told reporters Tuesday that selecting a quarterback is also on his mind. "We could come out of this draft with a quarterback," he said. "We want to add to that room." Atlanta has already moved on from franchise all-time great Matt Ryan, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. Since then, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal. Hence, the next franchise QB is still to be determined and rounding out the QB room for depth ahead of 2022 is also a need.
- Questions were raised after the New Orleans Saints acquired an additional 2022 first-round pick from the Eagles prior to the draft. Are the Saints planning to use the pick to trade up? Would they then take a top offensive tackle or quarterback? Could they just stay where they are at Nos. 16 and 19? We're soon to learn the Saints' endgame, but it will be the first massive decision for new coach Dennis Allen, Rapoport said on NFL NOW. Considering all the trades needed to get there, trading up for either a tackle or QB within the top 10 seems too expensive for a move, Rapoport said. The Saints gave up their 2023 first-round pick in order to get in this position, and it creates one of the more intriguing scenarios for Thursday night.