As the Eagles prepare for what they believe will be a fruitful 2020 NFL Draft, it's worth a moment to step back away from all of the mock drafts – I just watched the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah pick linebacker Kenneth Murray at No. 21 overall for the Eagles next Thursday, which certainly would be innnnterrrreeessstttiiiinnngggg – and I thought: Who are the best draft picks the Eagles have made on the current roster?
Given all the circumstances – where the Eagles were positioned in the draft, what it required to get the player, etc. – I put together this list. Ten players on the roster who have been outstanding draft picks. Feel free to agree or disagree …
1. 2016, Round 1, No. 2 overall, QB Carson Wentz
The combination of the maneuverings of Howie Roseman to go from No. 13 overall to No. 2 overall and at the same time shedding bad contracts – cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso, and running back DeMarco Murray – while acquiring extra draft picks to deal and the impact of bringing a franchise quarterback like Carson Wentz into the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles reset their football franchise shortly after hiring Head Coach Doug Pederson puts this selection at the top of the list.
2. 2011, Round 6, No. 191 overall, C Jason Kelce
A very close second is this pick – Jason Kelce at No. 191 overall! Incredible. The Eagles drafted a player who was undervalued because of his lack of bulk, but Kelce's incredible athleticism, technique, and football intelligence have made him one of the best centers in the NFL in the last decade. It's hard to believe that he wasn't selected on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2010s, but the Eagles know the true measure of his game. Roseman acquired the pick by dealing with Baltimore – sending the 85th pick in the draft, who turned out to be offensive tackle Jah Reid – to the Ravens for the 90th overall pick, which the Eagles used to select cornerback Curtis Marsh, and pick No. 191. Nobody paid any attention to the selection, right? Turned out to be all-time value with the way Kelce has produced.
3. 2012, Round 1, No. 12 overall, DT Fletcher Cox
To move up from No. 15 overall to No. 12, the Eagles had to give up significant draft capital – the 15th pick (used to pick defensive end Bruce Irvin), a fourth-round selection (used to pick defensive tackle Jaye Howard), and a sixth-rounder (used to take cornerback Jeremy Lane) – and it was all worth it. Fletcher Cox has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career and he remains in his prime. Cox has been to the last five Pro Bowls – at least he's been selected – and he's a four-time All-Pro player. By the way, the sixth-round pick was obtained when the Eagles traded former second-round draft pick Winston Justice to Indianapolis a month before the draft, so Justice, in a very, very, very roundabout way, helped the Eagles acquire Cox.
4. 2010, Round 1, No. 13 overall, DE Brandon Graham
The 2010 NFL Draft was an incredibly mixed bag – relative busts like quarterback Sam Bradford went first, linebacker Rolando McClain went eighth, running back C.J. Spiller went ninth, while the first round also produced star offensive tackle Trent Williams, safety Eric Berry, safety Earl Thomas, and others – and for the Eagles, it represented a bold move that has paid off for a decade. The Eagles traded three draft picks to go from 24 to 10 in the first round – giving up No. 24, which turned out to be wide receiver Dez Bryant, and two third-rounders – tight end Ed Dickson and wide receiver Eric Decker – and nabbed Graham. He has been the heart and soul of the defense since recovering from a rookie-season knee injury, changing from a hand-in-the-dirt end to a standup pass rusher and then back and playing under three head coaches.
5. 2013, Round 2, No. 35 overall, TE Zach Ertz
Staying put at No. 35 overall, the Eagles reached out and added pass-catching tight end Zach Ertz from Stanford even though they already had Brent Celek entrenched at the position. The acquisition of Ertz rounded out the position and added a favorable matchup to the passing game. Given the back-and-forth the Eagles had at quarterback, Ertz's numbers didn't take off for a bit, but once Wentz was on board, Ertz has been a Pro Bowl player the last three seasons and is only 65 receptions away from becoming the all-time leading pass catcher in franchise history.
6. 2013, Round 1, No. 4 overall, OT Lane Johnson
New Head Coach Chip Kelly reportedly wanted to select Oregon pass-rushing linebacker Dion Jordan, who went No. 3 overall to Miami, completing a trio of underwhelming picks – offensive tackle Eric Fisher went to the Chiefs, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel was picked by Jacksonville at 1-2. Who was left on the board? A kid who had been a quarterback only a couple of seasons before and who was seen as a raw, athletic prospect for the offensive tackle position. Lane Johnson has become a complete tackle, one of the best in the league, and whether it was good fortune or not, it was one of the team's best first-round draft picks who is still a mainstay on the team.
7. 2008, Round 2, No. 49 overall, WR DeSean Jackson
A crazy draft. The Eagles dealt themselves out of the first round and picked up some extra draft capital, including a 2009 first-round pick that was eventually used in the trade to Buffalo that brought offensive tackle Jason Peters to Philadelphia. Then the Eagles traded back in the second round before making their first pick at No. 47 overall (defensive tackle Trevor Laws). A couple of picks later, the Eagles stayed put with their original No. 49 selection and took diminutive wide receiver DeSean Jackson from the University of California. Some critics saw Jackson as primarily a punt returner who might help in the passing game. He's obviously turned out to be much more, making three Pro Bowls as an Eagle, along with being named an All-Pro player once.
8. 2016, Round 7, No. 233 overall, DB Jalen Mills
We're talking sheer value here, and to grab a player who has been a starting cornerback and who has won a Super Bowl with the 233rd overall pick is just great value. Every pick matters in the NFL Draft and Jalen Mills is proof positive of that. That was the Wentz draft and Roseman pulled out all the stops before and during the draft but in this instance, he stayed put and made a shrewd selection with Mills.
9. 2018, Round 2, No. 49 overall, TE Dallas Goedert
Let's try to get this one straight: The Eagles traded the 32nd overall pick and a fourth-round pick in this draft to Baltimore and the Ravens used the No. 32 pick wisely, taking quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore sent to the Eagles the 52nd overall pick and a fourth-round selection (which turned out to be cornerback Avonte Maddox) and a second-round draft pick in 2019 (more on that pick below). Then the Eagles traded the 52nd pick and a fifth-round selection to move to No. 49, where they selected Goedert, who is an explosive, all-around talent at tight end who teams perfectly with Ertz for the best 1-2 tandem at the position in the league.
10. 2019, Round 2, No. 53 overall, RB Miles Sanders
And … with that second-round pick acquired from Baltimore in 2018, the Eagles used the 53rd overall selection in 2019 to take Miles Sanders and all Sanders did was have a fantastic rookie season with 1,327 yards from scrimmage and more than 1,600 all-purpose yards. His future is extremely bright as he becomes the lead back from the start of the 2020 season. We'll see how it plays out from here, but the ability to acquire the extra draft pick and the way Sanders performed as a rookie gives this pick a spot on this Top 10 list.