Philadelphia Eagles News

1st-Round History Is Strong For Reid

There is no guarantee that the Eagles will actually use their two first-round draft picks in the upcoming draft. You know how these things work. You know how Andy Reid pulls out tricks at the last minute. You know that those 10 minutes when the Eagles are on the clock will feel like 10 hours as we wait to see if the Eagles make their first first-round draft choice since 2006, when Brodrick Bunkley was the choice.

Still, we're going on thinking the Eagles will use at least one of those picks. And if they do, history says they have a good chance at taking a player who will help them, who will be a good player, who could be a great player and who could step right in and play immediately.

Reid has done a good job selecting first-round draft picks. He has had eight of them in his 10 Eagles drafts, and four of those players have been in a Pro Bowl. A couple of them are regarded among the best players at their positions in the league. Only one of those draft picks was an out-and-out disappointment.

We have spent so many weeks looking ahead. For a moment, let's look back and allow history to judge Reid's success in the first round of his drafts.

1999, QB Donovan McNabb

Obviously, a great draft pick. Reid resisted the swell of media hype and fan interest in selecting Texas running back Ricky Williams, and actually made a pick that today looks more genius than it did from the outset.

That draft was supposed to be the Year of the Quarterbacks, with McNabb, Tim Couch, Daunte Culpepper, Akili Smith and Cade McNown among the group that was deemed a sensational pack of players at the position. As the years have gone on and the players have peeled off the face of the NFL, McNabb has stood alone at the top of his Quarterback Class.

It was a great, great draft pick. Reid was meticulous in his pre-draft preparation at a time when opinions were roundly divided on McNabb. Reid, and the Eagles, got their man.

PICK VERDICT: HIT 2000, DT Corey SimonDefense was the choice in Reid's second draft, and he found immediate help in Simon. A standout a Florida State, Simon added stability to a defensive line sorely in need. Simon had quickness off the line of scrimmage, and his pass-rush pressure was a welcome boost to a defense that matured rapidly as the Eagles started a run that landed them in four straight NFC Championship Games.

Simon made one Pro Bowl and was a starter from 2000 through 2004. He was a good player. Simon wasn't a huge, space-eating tackle, and his play against the run was not at the high level that some wanted, but he added to a very strong defense.

After the Eagles failed to come to terms with Simon on a long-term contract after the Super Bowl season, they used the franchise tag on him. He refused to sign the deal, and ultimately the team lifted the tag and Simon became a free agent. He signed with Indianapolis, played one season and then his NFL career was over. Health issues were a problem with Simon, who retired officially from the NFL in 2007.

PICK VERDICT: HIT 2001, WR Freddie MitchellOh, what could have been. Mitchell was the Mouth That Roared, and he also happened to be a pretty good football player whom the Eagles took with the 25th pick of that April. Mitchell showed some good promise in his rookie season, catching 21 passes and averaging 13.5 yards per catch. But he dipped in 2002, with only 12 grabs.

The next year, Mitchell looked like he was ready to bust out. He embraced his role as a third receiver, converting first downs on 23 of his 35 catches. Mitchell made big play after big play, showing his toughness and excellent hands. His fourth-and-26 catch was, obviously, the highlight of highlights.

In 2004, Mitchell's numbers went down and his mouth just did not stop yapping about his reduced role. And after the loss in the Super Bowl, when Mitchell embarrassed himself by criticizing the Patriots, his career with the Eagles was over. He had 90 catches and 5 touchdowns in four seasons. Not bad, but not what could have been had he kept his mouth shut and worked hard in his role.

PICK VERDICT: MISS 2002, CB Lito SheppardNow that he has been traded for draft picks, it would be easy to say that taking Sheppard with the 26th pick in 2002 was a miss. But it would be incorrect to say that. Before Sheppard soured on his role here, he had a lot of great moments. Sheppard made two Pro Bowls and was considered one of the top big-play cornerbacks in the league. His great anticipation and balls skills helped him get in position to pick off passes, and then his skills with the ball in his hands was not easily matched.

When he was healthy, Sheppard was terrific until the last couple of years here. That all changed, of course, and Sheppard's role diminished to the point where he was the team's fourth cornerback last year.

PICK VERDICT: HIT2003, DE Jerome McDougle The Eagles went defense again in 2003 and traded up to select McDougle, the former standout at the University of Miami. McDougle actually had a good preseason until he suffered a nasty injury in the preseason finale, and it took him until the middle of his rookie season to get back on the field.

Unfortunately, that was just the start of a series of things to go wrong with McDougle. He never had a chance to get into a flow from one year to the next, and in the end McDougle failed to live up to his draft status. Suffering a shotgun wound was the most tragic injury McDougle suffered, but even when he was healthy he did not play well.

McDougle made a good run of it last summer when he played well in the preseason and was cut as the team reached its 53-man roster limit. McDougle was then signed by the Giants, and he played in New York last year.

PICK VERDICT: MISS 2004, OG Shawn AndrewsOnce again, the Eagles traded up in the first round and selected Andrews, the former University of Arkansas star. Andrews had battled a weight issue throughout college and was considered a bit of a risk, but he stepped into the starting lineup at right guard and was in there when the Eagles opened the regular season against the Giants.

However, Andrews suffered a broken leg in that game and missed the remainder of the season. He bounced back strong in 2005, and then made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007.

Last year was a difficult year for Andrews, who played in just two games. He is back, however, and says he feels great mentally and physically. If that is the case, Andrews should be a strong candidate for the Pro Bowl, whether he plays right guard or left tackle.

PICK VERDICT: HIT 2005, DT Mike PattersonShowing again that he didn't go for players who simply look good in a uniform or who run good 40-yard dashes, Reid selected the highly-productive Patterson late in the first round and Patterson has been a fixture at defensive tackle since then. Patterson became a full-time starter late in 2005 and hasn't moved since.

Superb in his tactical skills and his ability against the run, Patterson is a staple on the line. He consistently ranks among the top NFL defensive tackles in tackles and assists, and his durability is a huge reason the Eagles have improved so much over the years against the run.

PICK VERDICT: HIT 2006, DT Brodrick BunkleyIt took a year for Bunkley to get his act together. He was lost as a rookie and there was definite concern that the Eagles made a huge mistake by staying put with the 14th selection in the first round to take Bunkley.

But the Eagles dealt starter Darwin Walker in the offseason and Bunkley was promoted to the starting role prior to the 2007 campaign and he has put together strong back-to-back seasons. Bunkley is outstanding against the run as a physical force. If he can improve as a pass rusher, Bunkley has a chance to be a Pro Bowl player.

Certainly, though, the Eagles were rewarded for their patience with Bunkley, who in turn responded by attacking the game after the washout of a rookie season. It may be a tad early to judge this pick, but if Bunkley continues his upward climb, the Eagles will have something special here.

PICK VERDICT: HIT

By this count, Reid's first-round picks have produced six hits and two misses. Feel free to disagree, as some of those picks may be somewhere in between. Still, the Eagles have done well in the first round with Reid at the helm. They have two No. 1's to use in a couple of weeks. History says some good player(s) will become Eagles on April 25.

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