Eagles

Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have seen their fair share of 1st-round picks who turned out to be busts. The fan base has certainly called out Howie Roseman, Andy Reid, and other decision-makers for their shortcomings during their tenures in the front office.

The NFL Draft is wild, random, and predictably unpredictable. The best NFL organizations have their fair share of misses. They also make up for it with solid draft strategies, positional priorities, and careful selection of players they believe can translate their skills to the next level.

Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb

One of the best coaches in the history of the NFL controlled personnel decisions for the Eagles for most of his 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The first draft choice of his tenure established the foundation for his long-term success.

Ricky Williams, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, or Cade McNown would’ve altered Eagles history for the worse if Donovan McNabb never came to Philadelphia in 1999.

Later first-round decisions didn’t turn out as well for Andy Reid. Loudmouth Freddie Mitchell and an infamous firefighter handcuffed his ability to climb the mountain and win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Philadelphia Eagles Front Office

Reid’s protegee Howie Roseman has shouldered intense criticism for past questionable draft-day decisions. He’s also made up for misses with steals like Jordan Mailata and value picks like Jalen Mills and Avonte Maddox.

More recent picks like DeVonta Smith and Jalen Carter have a great chance to cement Roseman’s legacy. However, the list of 19 picks only includes the track record of players drafted by 2020.

The Eagles have made 1st-round picks based on their positional priority for the franchise quarterback and offensive and defensive linemen. There are hits and misses. Every decision will meet inevitable scrutiny of the highest magnitude from the most passionate fan base in professional sports.

However, the Eagles have advanced to seven NFC Championship Games and three Super Bowls since Jeffrey Lurie hired Reid. The effects of the decision have made the Eagles one of the most successful organizations in the NFL since 1999. 

  • 19. Danny Watkins

    Danny Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles

    The pick was a head-scratcher from the start. Andy Reid convinced himself that a 26-year-old with more experience as a firefighter than as a football player was worthy of the 23rd-overall pick. Danny Watkins never showed the passion for football that almost all NFL players have.

    His mind was more likely on his passion as a fireman. The 2011 draft class ironically played out well for the Eagles. They selected Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh, and Casey Matthews with their first four picks. If they had picked sixth-rounder Jason Kelce with their first-round pick and Watkins in the sixth, you would never hear criticism of the front office for their decisions.

  • 18. Marcus Smith

    Marcus Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles entered the 2014 NFL Draft without a good enough plan. They didn’t “Do The Deal” to move up and select Marcus Mariota. When Ha Ha Clinton-Dix came off the board at 21, the Eagles traded back from the 22nd spot to 26. They selected a player nowhere to be found on most first-round draft boards.

    Marcus Smith barely got on the field for the Eagles. He finished his third and final season in Philadelphia with just four career sacks.

  • 17. Jalen Reagor

    Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles

    Justin Jefferson helped determine the perception of Jalen Reagor. The Eagles didn’t see Jefferson as a fit despite an outstanding college career at LSU. They took a Big 12 wide receiver whose supposed speed never truly showed itself at the NFL Combine or during his two seasons in Philadelphia.

    Reagor made more blunders than dynamic plays. His attitude toward the fans and media became an issue, and Howie Roseman dealt him to the Minnesota Vikings before the 2022 season for minimal draft compensation.

  • 16. Jerome McDougle

    Jerome McDougle, Philadelphia Eagles

    Andy Reid aggressively pursued Jerome McDougle in the 2003 NFL Draft. A trade from the 30th-overall spot to the 16th got everyone excited for a star pass rusher.

    McDougle couldn’t stay on the field. He was involved in an unfortunate incident involving a shooting, and he ultimately played just 37 games in four NFL seasons, three with the Eagles.

  • 15. Andre Dillard

    Andre Dillard, Philadelphia Eagles

    When Jason Peters and Lane Johnson looked like they were on the downside of their careers, the Eagles selected Andre Dillard in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The highly-touted prospect out of Washington St. didn’t develop with the Eagles. He battled injuries, and there were questions about whether his heart was truly focused on football.

    Jordan Mailata quickly overtook him on the depth chart. Dillard became just a backup by the end of his tenure in 2022.

  • 14. Freddie Mitchell

    Freddie Mitchell, Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles had the pick of the litter in what turned out to be one of the strongest wide receiver drafts in NFL history. Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith were on the board, but they chose Freddie Mitchell with the 25th-overall pick.

    “Fred Ex” had a colorful (if nothing else) personality off the field, but he never produced like a starting-caliber wide receiver. He never caught more than 35 passes in any of his four NFL seasons.

    At least fans have the “fourth-and-26 game” to remember.

  • 13. Derek Barnett

    Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles

    Derek Barnett broke the sack record previously held by Reggie White at the University of Tennessee. The badge of honor got fans excited after the Eagles picked him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

    Things started well when Barnett was a rotational contributor for the best positional unit on the 2017 Eagles. He even recovered the game-changing fumble in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII.

    However, Barnett slipped consistently after earning a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season. He battled injuries and a lack of production in the following seasons. Ultimately, his undisciplined play ruined any chance had to become a reliable full-time pass rusher.

  • 12. Brodrick Bunkley

    Brodrick Bunkley, Philadelphia Eagles

    The talk leading up to the 2006 NFL Draft was about how the Eagles would have to trade up in the first round to sure up their defensive front with Brodrick Bunkley. The defensive tackle slipped to the 14th-overall spot, but he didn’t turn into the star the Eagles hoped for. He was a serviceable player for five seasons in Philadelphia.

  • 11. Nelson Agholor

    Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles

    Nelson Agholor doesn’t have the most outstanding legacy in Philadelphia. His infamous blunders are hard for Eagles fans to forget. He struggled through two cringeworthy seasons after the Eagles selected him in 2015.

    Fans should also consider that he put that terrible stretch behind him for a career season as a legitimate gamebreaker in 2017 who factored into some of the most impactful plays of the season. Agholor earned his Super Bowl ring regardless of the fallout afterwards.

  • 10. Mike Patterson

    Mike Patterson, Philadelphia Eagles

    When a team consistently finishes at the top of the NFL, they won’t have the best opportunity to draft premium players. However, the Eagles found good value at the 31st-overall spot in 2005 after a Super Bowl appearance. Mike Patterson was a reliable defensive tackle for eight seasons in Philadelphia.

  • 9. Shawn Andrews

    Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia Eagles

    Fans would’ve had a much different reaction to issues off the field if Shawn Andrews struggled with his mental health in modern times. At the height of his NFL career, he showed the outstanding skill set the Eagles saw before they drafted him with the 16th-overall pick in 2004.

  • 8. Jeremy Maclin

    Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

    Andy Reid didn’t place a premium on wide receivers during most of his tenure with the Eagles. He finally provided Donovan McNabb with some sustainable firepower when he drafted DeSean Jackson in the second round in 2008 and Jeremy Maclin in 2009.

    Maclin caught 343 balls for 4771 yards in five seasons with the Eagles. He was part of one of the most explosive offenses Eagles fans have ever seen with Michael Vick at quarterback in 2010.

  • 7. Lito Sheppard

    Lito Sheppard, Philadelphia Eagles

    Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor formed one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL in the early 2000s. Future Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins was the team leader and the anchor of an outstanding secondary. However, the Eagles spent their first three picks in 2002 on defensive backs.

    Sheppard played a backup role for two seasons, but he made the unorthodox strategy look genius when he stepped in with a first-team All-Pro effort in 2004. He intercepted 18 balls in 93 career games with the Eagles.

  • 6. Carson Wentz

    Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

    Things didn’t end well. Carson Wentz failed to take accountability for a brutal 2020 season, and he forced his way out of Philadelphia. It doesn’t erase his role in leading the Eagles to a 12-2 record to begin 2017. Nick Foles closed a season started by Carson Wentz.

    Wentz had extreme highs and lows in five seasons in Philadelphia. However, the Eagles still made the right move jumping to the second-overall spot in the 2016 NFL Draft to find their franchise quarterback.

  • 5. Corey Simon

    Corey Simon, Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles selected Corey Simon out of Florida St. with the sixth-overall pick in 2000. He quickly became a constant in the middle of a defensive line that proved itself as a team strength under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

    Simon started 78 games in five seasons in Philadelphia, and he earned a Pro Bowl nod after the 2003 season.

  • 4. Brandon Graham

    Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles

    Fans will always remember the strip sack of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII as the highlight of Brandon Graham’s career with the Eagles. However, they might not focus as much on his struggle to gain footing in the NFL at the beginning of his career. Graham had to work his way up from a rotational position to a primary role.

    First, he ignored criticism about how the Eagles should’ve taken Jason Pierre-Paul with the 13th-overall pick. He overcame his former division rival only to hear about his shortcomings compared to Earl Thomas in the “Legion of Boom” era. He’s overtaken both of them in his climb up the leaderboards in many major defensive categories in franchise history.

  • 3. Fletcher Cox

    Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles selected Fletcher Cox with the 12th-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has one of the strongest overall track records of any first-round pick in a class that included Luke Kuechly and Stephon Gilmore.

    Cox might not gotten the same level of celebration as Eagles fan favorites like Brian Dawkins or Jason Kelce. However, he was the best player at his position on the Super Bowl LII roster.

  • 2. Lane Johnson

    Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

    The first five picks of the 2013 NFL Draft were linemen. Lane Johnson has significantly outperformed a group that included two other offensive tackles. The 6-foot-6 mountain has earned four Pro Bowl nods, but the Eagles might actually know more about his value based on a brutal record when he’s been out of the lineup.

    Johnson was one of the anchors of a powerful offensive line that helped push the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl LII.

  • 1. Donovan McNabb

    Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles

    Quarterbacks have exponentially more value than any other position in the NFL. Andy Reid began his tenure with Donovan McNabb as his franchise quarterback. The second-overall pick broke into the league as an exhilarating dual threat who played a part in the evolution of the NFL into a new era of running quarterbacks.

    McNabb earned six Pro Bowl selections with the Eagles. He played in five NFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIX during a sustained period of success in the top tier of NFL quarterbacks.

    His shortcomings might cloud the memories of some fans, but they don’t define his career as the foundation of the Andy Reid era.

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