From several conversations I've had today, it became clear that a couple of NFC East teams were thrilled the Eagles decided to take Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham instead of Texas safety Earl Thomas after trading up 11 spots in the first round of Thursday's draft. The Cowboys liked Thomas so much that they considered trying to move from No. 27 to 12 or 13.
That may have required them giving up a first-round pick in 2011 in addition to their second-rounder, which was too steep. When the Cowboys saw the Eagles move to No. 13, they just knew the pick would be Thomas. And there was some relief in the room when Graham's name was called instead.
Tennessee's Eric Berry and Thomas were both considered "special" players. But Eagles coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman coveted Graham's pass-rushing ability. And I believe an elite pass-rusher has more effect on a game than a top-flight safety.
So what do the Eagles do this evening? They have the Donovan McNabb pick, which is the fifth pick of the second round. Paul Domowitch of the Daily News takes a look at all of the candidates at safety and cornerback. There was a big run on corners late in the first round. That's why it wouldn't surprise me if the Eagles selected South Florida safety Nate Allen. He's not in the Berry/Thomas category, but Allen makes plays on the ball and he has excellent range. He's a much better fit for Sean McDermott's defense than USC's Taylor Mays, who is still available.
Obviously, the story of the night in the league will be the quarterbacks. When will Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy go off the board? But the Eagles have a couple of premium picks in the second round. It's still too early to draft based solely on need, but don't be surprised if Allen's the guy. I also know the Cowboys like Allen, but not enough to move all the way from No. 59.