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A Review Of The Last 10 First Picks

Posted Jan 30, 2017

Howie Roseman said it last week: The Eagles want to find a "difference-making player" in the first round of April's draft and continue what they restarted with the selection of Carson Wentz. Keep adding blue-chip talent and build the roster ...

Howie Roseman said it last week: The Eagles want to find a "difference-making player" in the first round of April's draft and continue what they restarted with the selection of Carson Wentz. Keep adding blue-chip talent and build the roster.

The Eagles will hold either the 14th or 15th overall selection (based on a coin flip to be held at the NFL Scouting Combine in February) and go from there. From what position they actually draft remains to be seen - the team has moved around a lot in the past, including 2016 when Roseman engineered two trades to move from No. 13 to No. 2 to take Wentz - but the goal is to add a top-shelf talent.

In a league where the first-round success rate is right around 50 percent, the Eagles need to get it right to move up in the very competitive NFC East. Here is a look at the last 10 top picks, whether they were in the first round, or not.

2007: QB KEVIN KOLB

Trying to get tricky here, the Eagles instead failed to take advantage of extra draft picks. They moved out of the first round in a trade with Dallas, of all teams, and waited untl the second round to make their first selection. With the 36th overall pick, the Eagles took quarterback Kevin Kolb from the University of Houston. Former Eagles general manager Tom Heckert was convinced at the time that Kolb "is going to be special," but instead Kolb never got his NFL career on track. 

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The entire draft was pretty bad, actually. Second pick Victor Abiamiri, a defensive end from Notre Dame, couldn't stay healthy and played only 29 games as an Eagle. Third pick Stewart Bradley battled injuries and played in just 44 games here. Tony Hunt was a bust at running back and safety C.J. Gaddis, taken with a pick from that trade with Dallas, never made it in the NFL.

Poor draft, starting with the decision to trade out of Round 1. The gem of the draft? Tight end Brent Celek, a fifth-round flier who has become a model for what the Eagles want their players to be be: Tough, team-oriented, ultra-competitive, talented, and productive.

2008: DT TREVOR LAWS

More top-of-the-draft dealings pushed the Eagles out of the first round and into Round 2, where they made a second trade and ended up at No. 47 overall. The pick there was defensive tackle Trevor Laws, who played in 56 games as an Eagle from 2008-11. Laws was quick off the ball, but he never became a difference-making player.

Actually, the bell of this draft ball came two picks later when the Eagles, at No. 49 overall, took wide receiver DeSean Jackson from California. Jackson, of course, was a Pro Bowl-level receiver and return man until the Eagles released him after the 2013 season.

The remainder of the draft didn't help the Eagles a whole lot, but later-round picks safety Quintin Demps (Houston) and offensive tackle King Dunlap (San Diego) are still playing in the NFL.

2009: WR JEREMY MACLIN

Once again, the Eagles traded in the first round, but this time they moved from No. 21 to 19 and took Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He, of course, became a reliable and productive receiver here before leaving to sign with Kanas City in free agency following the 2014 season. The Eagles also drafted running back LeSean McCoy in the second round, who became the franchise's all-time leading ground gainer until he was traded to Buffalo ... oh, you know the details.

The rest of the draft didn't amount to much in Philadelphia. Tight end Cornelius Ingram, safety Macho Harris, wide receiver Brandon Gibson ... a pretty forgettable draft after Maclin and McCoy.

2010: DE BRANDON GRAHAM

This draft is an example of why it takes three or four or sometimes more years to determine the success of a class. The Eagles moved way up in the draft to take Brandon Graham at No. 13 overall, and Graham has become an extremely productive and durable player. Second-round pick Nate Allen remains in the league, with the Raiders. Tight end Clay Harbor, a fifth-round pick, is still in the league. Seventh-round pick Kurt Coleman is a Pro Bowl-level safety with Carolina.

But the Eagles also traded away a lot of picks, and those selections became great players - wide receiver Dez Bryant, tight end Ed Dickson, wide receiver Eric Decker and linebacker Sean Lee. 

2011: G DANNY WATKINS

Things did not work out for the Eagles at the top of the draft in 2011. Conducted during the league's work stoppage, the Eagles missed on first-round draft pick Danny Watkins, who didn't make it in the league. Second-round pick safety Jaiquawn Jarrett missed in Philly and then became a starter in New York with the Jets. Third-round cornerback Curtis Marsh didn't transition to the league.

There were some hits later in the draft - fifth-round running back Dion Lewis will play a key role for New England in Sunday's Super Bowl and sixth-round center Jason Kelce played in his second Pro Bowl a day ago - but the impact needed at the top of the draft was not there.

2012: DT FLETCHER COX

The Eagles nailed it when they moved from No. 15 to 12 in the first round - giving up the 15th pick and two other selections that Seattle turned into good players (defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Jaye Howard, and cornerback Jeremy Lane) - to select Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. He is the linchpin of the Eagles' front four and is a dominating player.

The rest of the draft? Mixed reviews. Mychal Kendricks starts at WILL linebacker, but hasn't been a huge part of the defense the last few seasons. Vinny Curry was signed to a long-term contract prior to the 2016 season and didn't produce game-changing plays. He will be counted on for big things in 2017. 

Nick Foles. Brandon Boykin. Bryce Brown. All had significant and positive roles here at one time. Now? They are either on other teams (Foles, Chiefs) or out of the league.

2013: OT LANE JOHNSON

In Chip Kelly's first draft, the common thinking was that the Eagles were interested in adding former Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan. Maybe, maybe not. Jordan went No. 3 overall to Miami, and he has had off-the-field problems that have impacted his ability to get on the field.

The Eagles, at No. 4 overall, selected Lane Johnson and he's been great - when he's playing. Suspensions have cost Johnson 14 games of his career, and those 14 missed starts have negatively impacted the Eagles.

If Johnson can stay on the field, he has a chance to be the best right tackle in the NFL. The Eagles were 5-1 with Johnson starting in 2016.

2014: DE MARCUS SMITH

Roseman talked last week at the Senior Bowl about lessons learned from this draft, about moving out of the No. 22 spot into 26 and taking Marcus Smith from Louisville. It's not about "winning the draft," Roseman said, it's about adding the best football players possible for the Eagles. 

Smith has had some challenges in his development, starting his career as an outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 front and then moving to a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end last season. He has made some strides, but Smith hasn't made the impact needed from a first-round draft pick. 

The rest of the draft produced receiver Jordan Matthews in the second round and defensive tackle Beau Allen in the seventh round.

2015: WR NELSON AGHOLOR

At No. 20 overall, the Eagles took a player they felt was explosive with the ball in his hands and as ready to contribute as any receiver in the draft. But USC's Nelson Agholor has 59 receptions and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Eagles. What will year No. 3 bring for Agholor, who clearly needs to step up his game in 2017 at a position where the Eagles desperately need more production?

In this six-player draft, only third-round pick Jordan Hicks has been a major contributor. He is a mainstay at middle linebacker and a player around whom the Eagles can build defensively.

2016: QB CARSON WENTZ

With Roseman back in charge and overseeing the draft, the Eagles hit gold with the selection of Carson Wentz, the franchise quarterback. He had an outstanding rookie season and is poised to be the face of the franchise for the next decade and more.

It's too early to know about the rest of the draft, but the early returns are encouraging. Offensive linemen Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai should push for playing time next season. Running back Wendell Smallwood showed flashes before he was injured. Cornerback Jalen Mills saw significant reps, and was tough and resilient as a rookie. Linebacker Joe Walker had a terrific summer before tearing up his knee.

When will we know for sure about the 2016 draft class? It could be a year or two or three, or even longer, as past draft class reviews have shown.

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