In these days leading to another NFL draft, as we look forward to seeing how the Eagles' months of planning unfold from May 8-10, we also think back to some previous drafts.
Some good. Some not as good.
If I were to say the best draft picks I can remember, the 1999 selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb (first round, second overall), the 2002 pick of Brian Westbrook (third round, 91st overall) and the 2009 move to secure LeSean McCoy (second round, 53rd overall, fourth running back taken) would rank at the top for the Eagles.
I would also say that on the other end of the spectrum the selections of offensive tackle Bernard Williams (first round, 1994), defensive tackle Bruce Walker (second round, 1994), running back Siran Stacy (second round, 1992) and offensive tackle Antone Davis (first round, 1991) were among those that flamed out most spectacularly.
I do not agree with those who put defensive end Mike Mamula in the category of "worst all-time draft picks" for the Eagles. Yes, the Eagles traded up in 1995 and took Mamula, leaving defensive tackle and future Hall of Fame player Warren Sapp on the board. The Eagles picked the wrong player.
But they picked a player who had some productive seasons for the Eagles. Mamula was with the Eagles from 1995-2000 (he missed 1998 with an injury) and recorded 31 1/2 career quarterback sacks. He had eight quarterback sacks in 1996 and 8 1/2 in 1999. He played with tremendous effort and he had some grit.
Mamula did not have as productive a career as did Sapp. No doubt about it. But Mamula was a pretty good player here who just got buried with expectations born from a big trade up in the first round from head coach Ray Rhodes.
Speaking of Rhodes, his 1997 round one pick of defensive end Jon Harris from Virginia was probably the all-time head scratcher. You could argue that the players listed above had some pre-draft hype and were at the very least on the radar for the public. Not Harris. He had an indistinguished career at Virginia and the selection, 25th overall in the first round, was immediiately panned. Rhodes and ESPN analyst Tom Jackson sparred on television once the pick was made. Rhodes was on the defensive from the instant the decision to take Harris was made.
Harris as an Eagle? He played in 24 games over two seasons, had two quarterback sacks and was traded to Cleveland prior to the 1999 season.
Ah, the memories ... The truth is, as we have seen demonstrated in the past, the draft either puts a roster in really good shape or it sets a team back for years to come with a poor performance.
- Speaking of the draft, 9 of the 11 projected starters on offense (all except offensive tackle Jason Peters and left guard Evan Mathis) are Eagles draft picks. Not bad at all. The list includes wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, quarterback Nick Foles, McCoy and offensive linemen Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson.
- On defense? Linemen Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan, linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Trent Cole and safety Nate Allen. Slot corner Brandon Boykin is considered a starter. Defensive lineman Cedric Thornton was added as a rookie free agent.
- Don't have a feel for what the Eagles are thinking at No. 22 in the first round, and certainly don't know if the Eagles could move up higher in the round if they desired. With six draft picks, how much could the team trade to move up? Is that a realistic possibility? Or do the Eagles stay at 22 and go with the best player on their board? Or do they move back and try to acquire another pick or two. The early word is that it's going to be a lively first day, with many teams looking to move back and get more draft picks.
- Let's talk cornerbacks. The Eagles have a very solid group right now with the addition of Nolan Carroll. He will compete for playing time and maybe push to start, and at the very least gives the Eagles three outside corners with starting experieince -- along with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Boykin, a fantastic slot corner, stays inside. The Eagles are four deep, with some younger players -- Roc Carmichael heads the list -- adding competition.
- Good observation from NFL Network's Brian Baldinger, who visited the NovaCare Complex this week, as he talked about Foles and his progression in his third NFL season: "The windows are going to be tighter for Nick this year. The Eagles are playing the NFC West this season, and the defenses are outstanding. There aren't going to be a lot of easy throws out there against San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona. St. Louis has a tough defense."
- Fans have wide-eyed visions of the Eagles maybe moving into the top 10 of round one. Consider this: Based on the NFL Draft Value Chart established by WalterFootball.com, the 10th pick in the draft is worth 1,300 points. The 22nd pick is worth 780 points, a difference of 520 points. An equal valule of points to get to the 10th pick would require the 22nd pick in the first, second and third rounds. Now, this is just a guiding chart and teams offer players and future picks, etc. Values are different. But you see how much it would take, in general, to go from 22nd in the first round to 10 in the first round. Very tough.