After an offseason that saw the Eagles trade the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and their starting quarterback, cut their second leading sacker of all time and let their top wide receiver walk away as a free agent, would anything they do on Draft Day surprise you?
This offseason hasn’t been a total loss. Head coach and new personnel czar Chip Kelly was able to add last year’s leading rusher, the top cornerback on the free agent market, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.
Gone: LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles, Trent Cole, Jeremy Maclin.
Here: DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, Sam Bradford.
Draft: Who knows? The Eagles may move up from 20 to a top spot, down from 20 and get extra picks, or just stay there and take anything from a wide receiver to a safety to a guard.
What we do know is the Eagles have been involved in some crazy draft days in the past. Here are a few.
• • •
In 1982, the team needed a wide receiver and head coach Dick Vermeil fell in love with Perry Tuttle, of Clemson.
Loved him so much that he shared those feelings with his old friend, Chuck Knox, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Come draft day, Knox sucker punched his old friend, traded up one pick ahead of the Eagles and took Tuttle.
The Eagles then “settled’’ for another wide receiver from the ACC, North Carolina State’s Mike Quick.
Tuttle was a bust for the Bills. He played just two seasons and caught 24 passes.
Quick turned into one of the best receivers in Eagles history, with five Pro Bowl appearances in his nine seasons with the team.
• • •
This is why too much stock should not be put into the scouting combine:
When the 1995 college season ended with its array of Bowl games, defensive end Mike Mamula, of Boston College, was considered a solid second-round pick. Notre Dame cornerback Bobby Taylor, at the same time, was considered the best at his position and a sure first-rounder.
Then, at the combine, Mamula wowed the scouts with everything he did. He bench pressed 225 pounds, 28 times. He had a vertical leap of 38.5 inches and he ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds.
Mamula jumped into the first round; boy did he jump. The Eagles, with the 12th pick, moved up to number seven, using two of their three second-round picks to do so.
Taylor did not fare as well at the combine. He didn’t run particularly fast and didn’t do any of the other drills as well as some of the other cornerbacks.
He dropped to the 50th overall pick after eight other defensive backs and five other cornerbacks were selected. The Eagles traded wide receiver Victor Bailey and a fourth-round pick to Kansas City to select Taylor.
How did it work out?
Mamula had a decent career, much better than Eagles fans give him credit, but not one worthy of the seventh overall pick; more of one of a solid second-round pick.
Taylor turned out to be better than any of the defensive backs drafted ahead of him, and one who should have gone in the first round.
• • •
The following draft in 1996 is one that the Eagles could call the “What if?”
After a surprising playoff run in 1995, the Eagles had the 25th overall pick and still had some glaring holes to fill, specifically on the offensive line.
So when the time came and they were on the clock, Ray Rhodes selected Jermane Mayberry, an offensive lineman from Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Mayberry actually turned into a nice player and went to a Pro Bowl the year the Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 2004.
The next pick, however, was Baltimore’s and they took a linebacker from Miami named Ray Lewis.
What makes this draft interesting isn’t that the Eagles just passed on Hall of Famer Lewis, 24 other teams did as well. It’s that in the second round of that draft they selected safety Brian Dawkins, of Clemson.
Could you imagine a draft that would have produced Lewis and Dawkins?
Then there was 1999.
The Eagles were the worst team in the league in 1998, but only received the second overall pick, because the league expanded that year and the “new’’ Cleveland Browns got the first pick.
This was a quarterback heavy draft with Kentucky’s Tim Couch, Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb, Oregon’s Akili Smith, UCLA’s Cade McNown and Central Florida’s Daunte Culpepper.
And the Eagles needed a quarterback.
There was also running back Ricky Williams, of Texas, who somehow became a favorite of everyone in Philadelphia from radio talk show hosts to the mayor at the time, Ed Rendell.
And yet another possibility arose when New Orleans and head coach Mike Ditka were offering their entire draft and a number one pick in 2000 to move up to one of the top spots.
The Eagles stayed at the two spot, watched the Browns select Couch, and took McNabb, who turned into the best quarterback in franchise history.
Best and Worst Eagles Draft Picks
The bad ones, the really bad ones, stay in the mind forever. There have been some really good ones, too, however.
For every Eagles draft pick that has gone bust, there have been some who were better than expected.
Here’s a round by round look at the best and worst Eagles draft picks through the Super Bowl Era.
Best: Donovan McNabb, QB, Syracuse, 1999
Andy Reid and Co. certainly didn’t get every first rounder right, but they hit on their very first. With what was expected to be an excellent crop of quarterbacks (the first three picks were all QBs and five went in the first 12 picks), the Eagles came away with the best by far. McNabb led the Eagles to the most sustained success in team history and will go down as the best quarterback in team history. Hey Gov, still want Ricky Williams?
Worst: Kevin Allen, T, Indiana, 1985
This is the perfect example of how picking for need, instead of picking for talent, kills you. The Eagles needed an offensive tackle, but USC’s Ken Ruettgers and Florida’s Lomas Brown went off the board to Green Bay and Detroit just ahead of them. So they reached for Allen, with a wide receiver named Jerry Rice still on the board. Not only was Allen so bad that he was released before the start of the 1986 season, he was also arrested for sexual assault. The guy spent more time in jail than he did in the NFL.
Best: Brian Dawkins, S, Clemson, 1996
I wanted to cop out and call this a tie between Dawk and Randall Cunningham (1985), but decided to go with Dawkins, who became the heart and soul of the Eagles defense through the late ‘90s and into the 2000s. It’s kind of amazing he was still available late in the second round of ’96 and kudos for Ray Rhodes, whose eye for talent was very underrated, for selecting him.
Worst: Bruce Walker, DT, UCLA, 1994
Walker was considered a bit of a reach when Rick Kotite took him in ’94 because of some off-the-field problems. Trouble was he couldn’t play, either. Walker was among the team’s final cuts his rookie year and never resurfaced anywhere else. That’s a really bad pick.
Best: Brian Westbrook, RB, Villanova, 2002
Former Eagles director of college scouting Marc Ross was all over Westbrook, but even he didn’t see Westbrook becoming the player he became. The team was hoping they selected the next Dave Meggett, a good third-down back and return man. Instead, they got the next Marshall Faulk, a dynamic all-purpose back and one of the best in franchise history.
Worst: Tony Hunt, RB, Penn State, 2007
The Eagles, and the fans, thought they got a steal with Hunt in the third round. The joke was on them. Hunt failed miserably as a running back, and then was miscast as a fullback. He was gone in 2008.
Best: William Thomas, LB, Texas A&M, 1991
In the same draft the Eagles spent two first-round picks to select tackle Antone Davis, they found a gem in the middle of the draft in Thomas, who went onto a very good career with 37 career sacks and 27 career interceptions.
Worst: Dave Barr, QB, California, 1995
After a trade with Green Bay for Mark Brunnell fell through because the Eagles could not come to terms on a contract with the quarterback, they went after Barr as their young, promising QB. He didn’t even make the team.
Best: Trent Cole, DE/LB, Cincinnati, 2005
Cole was an undersized end coming out of college, which is why he lasted until the fifth round. The Eagles saw the second coming of Hugh Douglas and got an excellent pass rusher, who finished his Eagles career second on the team’s all-time sack list behind only Reggie White.
Worst: Jeremy Bloom, WR, Colorado, 2006
For some reason, Andy Reid and Co. thought they could turn an Olympic skier into a NFL player. Obviously, it didn’t work. Bloom never played in a regular season game and was gone by the end of his first season.
Best: Wilbert Montgomery, RB, Abilene Christian, 1977
The Eagles thought they were getting a good kick returner when they found this running back from tiny Abilene Christian. Instead, they got one of the greatest running backs in franchise history and the one who carried them to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1980.
Worst: Jeff Sydner, WR, Hawaii, 1992
It wasn’t that Sydner was so bad. It’s the fact that Rich Kotite kept him over Jimmy Smith in training camp. Smith went on to become a Pro Bowl player in Jacksonville, while Sydner caught three passes in three years for the Eagles.
Best: Koy Detmer, QB, Colorado, 1997
For a seventh-round pick, Detmer had a nice career as a back-up quarterback who was always ready when he needed to play. He also became such a good holder on kicks the team brought him back to settle kicker David Akers.
Worst: Raheem Brock, DE, Temple, 2002
This would have gone down as the best 7th-round pick, because Brock went onto have a very good career, only he had it in Indianapolis. The Eagles never signed the Philadelphia native, over a matter of a couple thousand dollars, and he later signed with the Colts.