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No longer the answer to a trivia question, Lito Sheppard welcomes Quinyon Mitchell to Eagles 

Lito Sheppard was the Eagles' top draft pick in 2002.
Lito Sheppard was the Eagles' top draft pick in 2002.

Quinyon Mitchell was part of history last night, becoming the first cornerback drafted by the Eagles in the first round of the NFL Draft since Lito Sheppard in 2002. When Sheppard was chosen with the 26th pick 22 years ago, Mitchell was just 9 months old.

"It's awesome, I know everyone is probably tired of hearing my name," said a laughing Sheppard on a phone call with on Friday. "I was blessed to have the opportunity to play there and do as well as I did for as long as I did. The City of Philadelphia has been awesome to me, and I've always embraced that."

Sheppard spent the first seven seasons of his 10-year career in Philadelphia. The Jacksonville, Florida native tallied 18 interceptions as an Eagle, returning three for touchdowns, which is tied for the third most in franchise history. In 2006, Sheppard became the first NFL player with two 100-plus-yard touchdown returns. He added two Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2004

Unlike Mitchell, Sheppard didn't have a pre-draft visit with the Eagles. The University of Florida product learned the virtue of patience as he waited till the end of the night to get his surprise call from the Eagles. Nonetheless, the cornerback was taken in the first round and never looked back.

"It was one of those experiences that you always cherish and look back on," Sheppard said. "It's one of the most memorable nights of my life, not too many things can top it."

Twenty-two years later, Mitchell was the next cornerback taken in the first round by the Eagles.

Sheppard noticed a resemblance to himself when watching Mitchell and analyzing his game. His flat-foot read is what stood out to the 10-year veteran, something that he developed under the late Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson (1999-2008).

"That was a big part of why we were able to have success in Philly, just some of the aggressive style of play," Sheppard said. "The flat-foot read was a pretty good technique he was able to execute."

Mitchell is also coming into a similar situation to Sheppard with two established cornerbacks in the locker room.

Sheppard was drafted to an Eagles team that had two cornerbacks, Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, who combined to make four All-Pro teams. Mitchell enters a room with James Bradberry and Darius Slay, who have combined to make seven Pro Bowls.

"From a mentality and growth standpoint, I think that will greatly help him," Sheppard said. "His game is going to be different than theirs, it was the same thing when I came in with Bobby and Troy, my game was different. He is going to look up to those guys because they are veterans, but there will be no backing down from him."

Sheppard believes that Mitchell will have the poise, mentality, and skill to deal with playing in this city, especially at cornerback, and navigating the tough landscape of the NFC East. He will have to continue being a "student of the game" to maximize the potential he showed in becoming a first-round corner in Philadelphia, just like Sheppard.

"The new kid is on the block; this is another great defensive back in Philly," Sheppard said.

Lito Sheppard sent the Lincoln Financial Field faithful into a frenzy with his timely plays in big games.
Lito Sheppard sent the Lincoln Financial Field faithful into a frenzy with his timely plays in big games.

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