2024 NFL Draft

How the best cornerback in the draft fell to the Eagles

The Eagles had to be patient on Thursday night as the best cornerback in the draft fell in their lap.

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About halfway through the first round on Thursday night, the Eagles started to feel pretty confident they were going to get a clear-cut first-round player without a move.

So Howie Roseman did something he doesn’t like to do during the draft.

He put down the phone.

And the Eagles watched as the draft fell in such a way that they were able to select top cornerback Quinyon Mitchell with their own pick at No. 22.

“I think it was unusual to not have action in that room,” Roseman said. “We contemplated — there were some really good players still left. We contemplated going up, but we kept going back to the fact that we felt like we had a really good chance to get a first-round player at a position of need where we were picking.”

Mitchell, 22, was considered by many to be the best cornerback in this year’s class. Many thought he’d be long gone before the Eagles picked. Many thought the only way the Eagles would get him was to give up one of their very valuable second round picks in a trade-up.

But when the draft started on Thursday night, there was an absolute flood of offense. Sixteen of the first 21 picks before the Eagles were on the clock were offensive players.

Heck, there wasn’t a defense player taken until the Colts broke the seal by selecting defensive end Laiatu Latu at No. 15 overall.

“We had gone through scenarios where four quarterbacks went, five quarterbacks went, six quarterbacks went, which really affected us a lot,” Roseman said. “Like I said, we go through the worst-case scenario first and work back from there.

“From our perspective, maybe a little surprising how late it took for the first defensive player to go. Probably didn't expect that.”

To be clear, this was much closer to the best-case scenario for the Eagles. Not only did all those offensive players go in the top half of the round but six of the first 12 picks were quarterbacks. And for a team that doesn’t need a quarterback, that’s a beautiful thing because it pushes other really good prospects deeper into the round.

Roseman often gets credit for the trades he makes during the draft. This time, he actually deserves some credit for a trade he didn’t make and the patience he showed.

Of course he wanted to trade. Howie always wants to trade. But he showed some well-timed restraint and it allowed to the Eagles to land a premier player without overpaying. But even if Mitchell ended up getting selected before the Eagles’ pick, they would have still been OK.

“The only reason we felt comfortable was because the scenarios played out in a way that we were comfortable we were going to get a really good player at that pick based on how the board was going,” Roseman said.

Basically, the Eagles did the math. As the draft unfolded and their pick neared, they realized there were enough quality players left on their board to ensure that they would land one of them.

If they were in danger of missing out, they would have tried to trade up. If there was an overwhelming surplus, they might have tried to trade down. Instead, they found themselves in the sweet spot where they began the round.

“I think based on the experience that I've had, is that sometimes you try to get too cute and we can't afford to get too cute,” Roseman said. “We're trying to build the best possible team.”

The Eagles ended up with their choice of all the cornerbacks in this class and ended up selecting Mitchell over Alabama’s Terrion Arnold, who went a couple picks later to the Lions at No. 24. Roseman didn’t get into the specifics of what pushed Mitchell over Arnold but said Mitchell was the right player for them.

Mitchell spent Thursday night at the NFL Draft in Detroit. So he had an up-close look as the first-round, especially before his phone rang, skewed very heavy offense.

“It was a lot,” Mitchell said on a conference call shortly after he was picked. “But I feel like right now I'm with the right fit, I am with the right organization with the right players, right city. So I feel good about this draft pick.”

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