With the Eagles selecting Lane Johnson with the 4th pick in the NFL Draft, we decided to pick the 10 best and 10 worst Eagles first-round draft choices of the past 40 years. This means some draft gems selected after the first round (i.e. Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook) won’t be included. It also means running back Leroy Keyes (3rd overall, 1969) will not be included. Not only was Keyes not worthy of being the No. 3 pick in the draft, but the Steelers took legendary defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene with the fourth selection.
When making our list, we took into account the player’s career, where he was selected and who was left on the board when the Eagles drafted.
Let’s just say it was a lot easier to come up with 10 bad first-round picks than it was to find 10 good first-round picks.
Here are the Eagles’ 10 worst first-round draft picks of the last 40 years:
10. (tie) Brandon Graham, DE, 13th overall (2010) and Danny Watkins, G, 23rd overall (2011)
Maybe it’s too early to call Watkins or Graham a bust. Then again, maybe it’s not. The Eagles traded up to select Graham,sending their first-round pick (24th overall) and two 3rd-round picks to Denver for the 13th pick. The first-round pick, which was subsequently traded to Dallas, was used to select WR Dez Bryant. One of those third-round picks turned out to be WR Eric Decker. After the Eagles took Graham at No. 13, the Seahawks selected safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 and, even worse, the Giants selected DE Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15.
Watkins is a great story – a fireman who used to play hockey – but he’s been a disappointment on the field. He lost his starting position in 2012. The Seahawks take OT James Carpenter at No. 25, Bears take OT Gabe Carimi at No. 29,Raiders take center/guard Stefen Wisniewski at No. 48. 49ers select QB Colin Kaepernick with 36th pick.
9. Freddie Mitchell, WR, 25th overall (2001)
Aside from fourth-and-26 against the Packers, “FrederalExpress” didn’t deliver. He caught 5 TDs during his Eagles career. With the 30th pick, the Colts selected WR Reggie Wayne. Bengals select WR Chad Johnson at No. 36.
8. Antone Davis, OT, 8th overall (1991)
Davis played in the NFL for seven years, including five with the Eagles. But he didn’t perform anything like a Top 10 pick. To make matters worse, the Eagles traded up to get him, giving up 19th pick in 1991 and 1st-round pick in 1992. Packers traded that1992 pick (No. 17 overall) to Falcons for Brett Favre, who was drafted 33rd in 1991. Davis was really good at losing weight after his Eagles career, however, as featured in the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser.”
7. Jon Harris, DE, 25th overall (1997)
Everyone else had Harris as a mid-round draft pick. The Eagles selected him in the first round. Everyone else was right. Harris finished his 2-year Eagles career with two sacks. Bills take DE Marcellus Wiley at No. 52.
6. Mike Mamula, DE, 7th overall (1995)
Mamula wasn’t terrible, but he never came close to living up to being the 7th pick in the draft during his five-year career. DT Warren Sapp goes to Bucs at No. 12. DE Hugh Douglass to Jets at No. 16.
5. Lester Holmes, guard , No. 19, and Leonard Renfro, DT, No. 24 (1993)
We combine Holmes and Renfro into one awful hour in Eagles history. They were the lowlights of a disastrous draft for the Eagles. Holmes only lasted 46 games. Renfro did not register a sack during his 23-game career. 49ers select Dana Stubblefield, the 1993 Defensive Rookie of the Year and future Defensive Player of Year, with the 26th overall pick.
4. Michael Haddix, FB, 8th overall (1983)
Haddix never rushed for more than 280 yards in a season, although he was a serviceable fullback. Houston selectsoffensive lineman/guard Bruce Matthews with ninth pick. Bills take QB Jim Kelly at No. 14. Dolphins take Dan Marino at No. 27. Redskins take CB Darrell Green No 28. All four of those players were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
3. Kenny Jackson, WR, 4th overall (1984)
Jackson caught 1 TD each of first 2 seasons, with 40 receptions in his second year being his career high. Jackson had 30 receptions and 6 TDs in his third year. He finished 8-year career, almost all with Eagles, with 126 receptions, 11 TDs. Bears take LB Wilber Marshall No. 11. Even when taking into account Jackson’s good special teams play and catering ability for team lunches on practice days, he still was the third worst pick on our Top 10 list.
2. Jerome McDougle, DE, 15th overall (2003)
The Eagles traded the 30th pick and 63rd pick to move up to get McDougle. He finished his four-year NFL career (3 with the Eagles) with 3 sacks. Not only did the Eagles trade up, but there were numerous quality players available. Steelers select safetyTroy Polamalu with No. 16 pick. Tight end Dallas Clark goes to Colts at No. 24. Running back Larry Johnson to Chiefs at No. 27. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to Raiders at No. 31.
1. Kevin Allen, OT, 9th overall (1985)
After an undistinguished and short tenure, Allen was released in October of 1986, shortly before he was arrested for rape (he spent three years in prison). Chargers select three-time All-Pro offensive tackle Jim Lachey at No. 12. 49ers take Jerry Rice at No. 16.
Here are the Eagles’ 10 best first-round draft picks of the last 40 years:
10. Jerry Robinson, LB, No. 21 overall (1979)
Robinson still stands as the most recent linebacker the Eagles selected in the first round, but it’s not because they were burned with this pick. He was productive for 13 seasons; six seasons with the Eagles and seven with the Raiders. Robinson made the Pro Bowl in 1981.
9. Roynell Young, DB, No. 23 overall (1980)
Young had a 9-year NFL career, all with the Eagles. He made the Pro Bowl in 1981. Young had 23 career interceptions, 4 in each of first 3 years.
8. Keith Jackson, TE, No. 13 overall (1988)
Jackson was a terrific tight end, catching 81 passes as a rookie and being named first-team All-Pro three times.
7. Charlie Young, TE, 6th overall (1973)
Young made the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro after his rookie season, when he caught 55 passes for 854 yards, 6 TDs. Young went to the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons. After his fourth season, the Eagles traded Young’s rights to the Rams for quarterback Ron Jaworski’s rights. Young played 9 more seasons in NFL, 3 each with Rams, 49ers and Seahawks.
6. Lito Sheppard, CB, No. 26 overall (2002)
The first pick in a strong draft that included safety Michael Lewis and cornerback Sheldon Brown in the second round and Brian Westbrook in the third round. Temple defensive end Raheem Brock was selected in the 7th round, but never signed with the Eagles.
5. Jerry Sisemore, OT, No. 3 overall (1973)
Sisemore started on the offensive line from his first day in the NFL to the last of his 12-year career, all of which was spent with the Eagles. He shifted to right guard for a few years before moving back to right tackle, where he twice made the Pro Bowl. Sisemore and Stan Walters gave the Eagles quality and stability on the offensive line for many years.
4. Tra Thomas, OT, No. 11 overall (1998)
The Eagles received 11 terrific years from Thomas, a 3-time Pro Bowler who provided stability at left tackle. Looking at the draft, there are no regrets even though Randy Moss drops to 21st (Vikings) and guard Alan Faneca goes 26th (Steelers)
3. Jerome Brown, DT, No. 9 overall (1987)
A dominating defensive tackle who was named first-team All-Pro twice before his career was tragically cut short by a fatal car accident. Steelers selected defensive back Rod Woodson No. 10.
2. Donovan McNabb, QB, No. 2 overall (1999)
There may be regrets that McNabb didn’t lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl, but he turned out to be far better than the other quarterbacks in the heralded quarterback class of 1999. He was also a better choice than running back Ricky Williams, who had the vocal support of Mayor Ed Rendell and WIP’s Angelo Cataldi, leading to a torrent of boos by Eagles fans attending the draft when McNabb was selected. Other QBs: Tim Couch (No. 1, Browns), Akili Smith (No. 3, Bengals), Daunte Culpepper (No. 11, Vikings), Cade McNown (No. 12th, Bears); McNabb eclipsed all NFL stats of 1999 drafted quarterbacks, combined.
1. Mike Quick, WR, No. 20 overall (1982)
Quick gave the Eagles a stellar six seasons before knee injuries slowed him down during his final three years. Quick went to 5 Pro Bowls and was named to All-Pro first team twice. Quick finished his career, all with Eagles, with 363 receptions for 6,464 yards, 61 TDs. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch. Thank goodness the Buffalo Bills took Clemson’s Perry Tuttle, the receiver Eagles really wanted, at No. 19, paving the way for the less-touted ACC product Quick to make a name for himself from N.C. State to the NFL.
Worthy of note: The Eagles were so happy to trade away first round picks that they went FIVE straight years (1974-78) without making a first round selection. We will never know whether that was a missed opportunity to add to the “best” list or the “worst” list.