Eagles Rumors: Ahmad Gardner’s Potential Could Force Philadelphia to Make a Dangerous Trade Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft

Barring a shocking turn of events, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner likely won’t be available when the Philadelphia Eagles make their first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Gardner, an All-American cornerback from the University of Cincinnati, is widely expected to go within the first 10 selections. The Eagles, on the other hand, aren’t slated to pick until 15th overall.

Good thing for trades, right?

A recent rumor suggested the Philadelphia Eagles could trade up for Ahmad Gardner in the 2022 NFL Draft

Will the Philadelphia Eagles trade up for Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner?
Could the Philadelphia Eagles trade up for Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner? | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

When the 2022 NFL offseason began, the Eagles were slated to have three first-round picks: No. 15, No. 16, and No. 19. As of publication, Philadelphia will pick 15th and 18th following a recent trade with the New Orleans Saints.

Could another trade, one that would ensure the Eagles have a chance at selecting Gardner, be in the works?

Veteran Eagles reporter Geoff Mosher recently reported the team would host Garner for a pre-draft visit, which in itself is interesting. Why meet with Gardner if he likely won’t be on the board at No. 15? Then, Mosher and longtime NFL reporter Adam Caplan discussed a potential Gardner-Eagles marriage on their Inside The Birds podcast. Mosher poised the question of if the Eagles should package their two first-round picks and try moving up for the All-American cornerback.

Caplan answered affirmatively, in large part because veteran corner Darius Slay will turn 32 on January 1.

“(The Eagles) don’t have a number 2 corner outside. They don’t have a number three. We’ll see about (Zech) McPhearson, if he can be the third guy. If you have a chance to get an elite player like Ahmad Gardner, you go get him.”

Adam Caplan

The Eagles have not selected a cornerback in the first round since 2002, when Philadelphia used the 26th overall pick on Florida’s Lito Sheppard. Gardner turned 2 years old several months later.

With respect to Gardner, Philadelphia would be playing with fire by making such a move

Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner in 2021.
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner is arguably the 2022 NFL Draft’s top cornerback prospect | James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To be clear, the Eagles would absolutely stand to benefit from Gardner’s presence. He’s arguably the draft’s top cornerback prospect and has earned rave reviews for his size (6-foot-3 and 200 pounds), speed (4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine), and confidence level. NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein even compared his play style to that of Seattle Seahawks great Richard Sherman, who could very well enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this decade.

But is all of that worth trading up for, especially when the Eagles have other holes?

Philadelphia narrowly reached the postseason last year in a mostly-weak NFC. Although some might argue Gardner is the missing piece, the truth is the team needs more consistent play from third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts and his receiving weapons. The Eagles could use younger faces in the front seven, especially at pass-rusher.

For as great of a prospect as Gardner is, he isn’t worth two first-round picks. Very few players are, and that includes quarterbacks. In the modern age, teams are best served giving up those assets for established players rather than on untested prospects.

None of this is a knock on Gardner so much as it is the harsh reality that the Eagles likely can’t draft him without trading up. General manager Howie Roseman would be wise to accept that fact before he potentially mortgages the team’s short- and long-term future for one player.

Who should the Eagles select in the upcoming draft?

The Eagles’ most substantial draft needs are help at receiver, defensive line, linebacker, and the secondary. Again, while Gardner would be an ideal fit, the odds are against him still being on the board when the team picks at No. 15.

Personally, if I were running the Eagles (which would be terrible news for those hoping to see a second Super Bowl parade in six seasons), I would use the 15th overall selection on Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, assuming he’s still unselected, and go best player available three picks later. Perhaps Alabama receiver Jameson Williams will fall to No. 18, especially as he recovers from a torn ACL. Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, an All-SEC choice in 2021, would also be an excellent addition.

If the Eagles prefer to select a cornerback with one of those picks, Washington’s Trent McDuffie would likely be the best option. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound cornerback allowed only 16 catches on 296 passing snaps last season and is expected to be selected within the first 25 picks.

Or, the Eagles could ignore me entirely and trade up for Gardner. The joke will be on me when the Cincinnati product catches a games-sealing interception in Super Bowl 57.

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