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The Eagles gave themselves a chance to land a difference maker in the NFL Draft

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By trading Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, the Eagles only moved up a few spots in the 2016 NFL Draft. But that jump could help them land a blue chip prospect.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As part of a bold strategy of shedding salaries prior to the start of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles leapt into the top 10 of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Eagles moved up to the eighth overall pick in the draft by sending cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso and the 13th pick to the Miami Dolphins. It may seem like a steep price, but it was necessary for the Eagles to rid themselves of Maxwell's bad contract and Alonso, a player who has suffered through injury each of the past two seasons.

There are a few reasons why getting inside the top 10 is important for Philadelphia and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman. One of the benefits is that it puts the Eagles in front of the divisional rival New York Giants, who pick 10th. Moving ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 9 was also important because the two teams could be targeting similar players.

Having a pick inside the top 10 also provides Philadelphia with a nice trade chip if an eventual move down presents itself. Don't forget, the Eagles gave up a second-round pick in this year's draft in last year's Sam Bradford/Nick Foles trade. If a team is desperate to move up, the Eagles could recoup an extra pick while sliding back down to their original pick in the teens.

Former Green Bay Packers personnel executive Andrew Brandt gave some additional reasoning on why it may have been important for Philadelphia to move up.

If they hold at No. 8, the quality of players available goes up dramatically for the Eagles. Considering they signed Chase Daniel to a three-year deal to compete with Bradford, quarterback is likely off the board in the first round. That probably means no Jared Goff of Cal or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. The Eagles also replaced Alonso with Nigel Bradham. He's a fit with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and gives the Eagles insurance if UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is gone when they pick.

One of the players the Eagles should be in position to pick is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. He is by far the draft's top player at his position because he's a complete running back. Elliott has the speed, size and elusiveness coveted in a running back, but it's his blocking and pass catching that makes him arguably the draft's best skill position player. After trading DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, the Eagles need a lead running back and Elliott would fit.

At No. 8, the Eagles should be in a position to take whomever they view as the draft's top cornerback. Although veteran Leodis McKelvin was signed earlier in the week, he shouldn't preclude the Eagles from drafting a cornerback. Florida's Vernon Hargreaves or Clemson's Mackensie Alexander are prospects who could be brought in to cover the likes of Dez Bryant of the Cowboys and Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants.

Much like cornerback, the Eagles could likely be able to pick whomever they rate as the best defensive tackle in the draft. The Eagles are working to extend Fletcher Cox, perhaps their best player, but could find his replacement among the draft's strongest position group. In that regard, it was important for the Eagles to get ahead of the New Orleans Saints, who pick 12th and need to improve their run defense this offseason.

Finally, being at No. 8 gives the Eagles an outside chance at Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. The last top-10 pick the Eagles had was used on Lane Johnson in 2013. Stanley could be his long-term bookend considering left tackle Jason Peters is 34.

Most of these players would have been gone by the time the Eagles picked at No. 13, so getting inside the top 10 in the gamble known as the NFL Draft drastically improves the team's odds.