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Top Three First-Round Picks Of The Reid Era

It's expected to be the round that delivers the best-of-the-best in each draft class. It's supposed to deliver teams an impact difference-maker to either turn a team's fortunes around or keep a team among the elite.

Andy Reid and the Eagles have done a very good job with their first-round picks. That is one of the reasons why the Eagles have won six division titles and appeared in five NFC title games under Reid. To narrow the best picks down to the top three was difficult, although there is a clear-cut choice for No. 1.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, a top 10 talent in his class, slipped into the late teens in 2009 before the Eagles moved up in a trade to acquire him. In two seasons, Maclin has started in all but two of the games he played in. He has 126 catches for 1,737 yards with 14 touchdowns. Last year, Maclin was tied for 10th in the league with 10 receiving touchdowns. Maclin didn't make the cut.

Defensive tackle Corey Simon was the No. 6 overall selection in 2000. He made an immediate impact providing a pass rush up the middle with 9.5 sacks to set the franchise's rookie record. He had 17.0 sacks in his first two seasons. Simon earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2003 campaign when he registered another 7.5 sacks. His desire for a mega contract made his stay in Philadelphia end prematurely, but he finished his Eagles tenure third in franchise history among defensive tackles with 32.0 sacks. Simon did not make the list.

Defensive tackles Mike Patterson (2005, No. 31 overall) and Brodrick Bunkley (2006, No. 13 overall) have been very good starters, but neither of them made the list.

Who did?

3. Guard Shawn Andrews, 2004

The massive Arkansas offensive tackle was selected with the 14th overall pick after the Eagles made a deal sending their first-round pick and a second-round pick to San Francisco to move up 14 spots. Andrews was expected to become the franchise left tackle after Tra Thomas, but from day one he was inserted into the starting offensive line at right guard. Blessed with quick feet and tremendous power, Andrews played in just one game as a rookie due to a broken fibula but started every game over the next two seasons and became simply dominant earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors following the 2006 campaign. More important, Andrews got his weight under control and was an elite guard - arguably the best in the game - as he earned a second straight trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2007 season. But in 2008, Andrews suffered a back injury on an extra point attempt in the second game of the year and never played for the Eagles again. Andrews practiced and was set to take over at right tackle in 2009, but never made it on the field. There will certainly be some debate regarding Andrews' spot, but when he played he was an impact player.

2. Cornerback Lito Sheppard, 2002

When this pick was made, a lot of people scratched their heads. The Eagles had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor, one of the best one-two cornerback combos in the entire NFL. But the Eagles wanted to look towards the future and after two years of learning under Vincent, Sheppard became a playmaker as he notched five interceptions and returned two of them for scores in the Eagles' Super Bowl season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro that year, his first as a starter. Two years later, Sheppard's last-minute interception secured a win over the Panthers that started a five-game win streak that resulted in a division title. He earned Pro Bowl honors that year with a career-high six interceptions. Sheppard was a confident, colorful, flashy player. Fans would sing the Lido Shuffle after he made a big play. Sheppard's play declined and he was traded to the Jets prior to the 2009 season. Sheppard was a great cornerback, respected as one of the best in the league, and that is why he earned the No. 2 spot on this list.

1. Quarterback Donovan McNabb, 1999

No contest here. The most important draft pick of the Andy Reid era was the No. 2 overall selection in 1999. It was Reid's first draft pick and one that would shape the direction of the franchise. We all know the stories of how the fans wanted Texas running back Ricky Williams. There were a number of other high-profile quarterbacks in that year's draft class. But Reid, who is now one of the most respected quarterback developers in the NFL, wanted McNabb and would have taken McNabb if he had the No. 1 overall pick (which was quarterback Tim Couch to Cleveland). McNabb played better than any quarterback in that draft class and re-wrote the Eagles' record books. McNabb made a lot of players a lot of money as the Eagles went from one of the struggling franchises to one of the elite. McNabb was part of an era which saw the opening of a new practice and training facility as well as a brand new stadium. McNabb was at the forefront of what has been a golden age of Eagles football. Even though he was the No. 2 overall pick, from a value standpoint McNabb is still arguably the best draft pick of the Reid era.

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