We'll go round by round and identify the three best picks in each round since Reid took over as head coach in 1999 – though we begin with a part of the draft that could be eliminated this year. Time after time, the Eagles have found value with their signings of undrafted free agents, but if there is no new Collective Bargaining Agreement come next weekend, undrafted rookies will not be able to sign free agent deals with interested teams.
The Eagles have had plenty of success in years past mining through the undrafted players and finding hidden gems, but it turns out that the three best post-draft signings during Reid's tenure all came from the same class.
3. Cornerback Roderick Hood, 2003With apologies to Artis Hicks, Nick Cole, Akeem Jordan and Greg Lewis, the nod for the third-best post-draft signing goes to Hood, who played such a vital role as the Eagles' nickel cornerback until he left for Arizona following the 2006 season. Of the five considered, Hood had the fewest starts (Hicks led the way with 31), but he gets the nod because of the premium nature of his position. It's more common to see an offensive linemen go from undrafted to contributor than it is to see the same transformation happen at a position like cornerback that often relies so much on athleticism (though it should be noted the Eagles' current nickel cornerback, Joselio Hanson, was also undrafted out of college). Playing alongside the likes of Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard, Hood tallied five interceptions and an impressive five fumble recoveries in his four-year run of success with in Philadelphia.
2. Center Jamaal Jackson, 2003As difficult as the decision was for the third spot, so too was the deliberation over who would get the No. 1 slot. Jackson just barely falls to No. 2, but not for lack of success or impact. The Delaware State product has been a mainstay in the Eagles' lineup since he filled in for an injured Hank Fraley midway through the 2005 season. Jackson impressed enough in that run to earn a training camp battle with Fraley the following summer – a battle he would win. In fact, it took a torn ACL in late 2009 to keep Jackson out of the lineup after an impressive 72 consecutive starts. After battling back to start at center in Week 1 of the 2010 season, Jackson's season was cruelly ended when he tore his triceps. Now fully recovered, Jackson is expected to be back in his role as the team's starting center in 2011.
1. Safety Quintin Mikell, 2003Mikell gets the top spot by virtue of the breadth of his impact and his tie-breaking Pro Bowl appearance. While it took Jackson two years to begin to make his impact, Mikell impressed as a special teams standout in his rookie season, and would go on to lead the way for his teammates as a special teams maven from 2003-2006. It wasn't until 2007 that Mikell took over as a full-time starter in the secondary, but he's started 58 games since then and earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2009. Mikell is set to be a free agent when the work stoppage ends, but even if he ends up elsewhere, he's been the Andy Reid's best rookie free agent signing.