Some are tall. Some are small. Some are skinny. Some are beyond bigger than mini. Moist hands shake with every second that ticks by. A lifetime of work for this one chance. One day represents the opportunity of a lifetime for 256 young men. As the brown haired man slowly makes his way across the bright stage, thousands of men tense up, while millions more break out the popcorn and look forward to what could be the future of their team for the next decade plus. The stage is set, the cameras are on, the man in the perfectly tailored suit clears his throat and utters the words everyone has been waiting months for: "Hello and welcome everyone, to this year's NFL Draft!"
While many of the players that end up being selected in the later rounds of the draft bite the nails entirely off of their fingers while they wait, the majority of the players selected in the first round of the draft know that they are going to go, at the latest, in the second round. Over the past 20 drafts, the Philadelphia Eagles have made some eye-popping moves, while they have also drafted players that have put fans to sleep. From Mike Mamula to Carson Wentz, the following is a ranking of the Philadelphia Eagles' last 20 first round draft picks.
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20 DANNY WATKINS - 2011
Of the 20 players that will be listed, Danny Watkins should be listed number 21 because of how awful a pick he truly was. It is one thing to take a leap of faith on someone in say the third or fourth rounds, but in the first? It is hard to fault the Eagles for taking him at 23rd overall (in the 2011 NFL Draft) due to the hype surrounding him out of Baylor University, but all the Eagles had to do was look at his numbers from the combine to know that he was not worthy of a first round pick. Not only that, but Watkins was also 26 years old at the time of his drafting, which was the oldest first round selection since 1971!
The quick backstory of Danny Watkins is that he decided to forego college to become a junior firefighter. At 22 years old, he enrolled at Butte College to study fire sciences. After being convinced to play for the football team and succeeding, Watkins transferred to Baylor where he played well enough in his two years there to be projected as an early NFL draft pick.
This is easily the worst pick that the Eagles made in this ranking and could be the worst first round pick that they have ever made. Danny Watkins ended up playing only one season for the Eagles (and only one other season in the NFL). He was released by the Eagles during training camp in 2013. Watkins found a home with the Miami Dolphins, but that home quickly went up in flames as he was reportedly back to being a firefighter in Frisco, Texas just a few months after his one-year contract with the Dolphins expired.
19 JON HARRIS - 1997
Jon Harris is a very close second worst first round pick to Danny Watkins, but he just sneaks in ahead of him on this list. Harris was drafted by the Eagles 25th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft out of the University of Virginia. Harris was only able to manage playing two seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles because after the 1998 season, the Eagles traded him to the Green Bay Packers for a player named John Michels.
While Harris was not quite as dreadful as Watkins, he was terrible in his own right. The two seasons he played for the Eagles were the only two seasons where Harris ever saw the field. His career stats in 24 games were: eight games started, two sacks, and one fumble recovery. Those statistics are not the worst this league has ever seen from a first round draft pick, but they are darn close.
18 JEROME MCDOUGLE - 2003
Jerome McDougle had a lot of promise coming out of the University of Miami. To select him 15th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Eagles had to trade up 15 spots to get him (traded with San Diego). Unfortunately for the Eagles, McDougle struggled mightily with injuries. He was only able to play in eight games during his rookie season and 11 in the 2004 season. In the summer before the 2005 season, just four days before he was scheduled to arrive at the Eagles' training camp, McDougle was shot in the abdomen. While the team doctors told him that he would be able to return for the season, McDougle experienced complications from the surgery and was forced to miss the entire 2005 season.
In the 2006 preseason, he sustained broken ribs and was forced to miss the first two games of the season. In the first preseason game of 2007, McDougle tore his triceps and so, was forced to miss the entire season. Before the 2008 season, the Eagles waived him, after which he was signed by the New York Giants. McDougle went on to play in four games for the Giants.
While Jerome McDougle was probably the correct pick at the time for the Eagles due to his immense talent in college, he ended up being an extremely injury prone/unlucky player. Regardless of the reasons, McDougle ended up being a bad first-round pick, playing in only 37 career games.
17 FREDDIE MITCHELL - 2001
Freddie Mitchell was the 25th overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft out of UCLA. While "FredEx," as he called himself, was a pretty explosive player at UCLA, he failed to translate that type of play to the NFL. While Mitchell was never awful, he was never really good. Even though it felt like Mitchell played for the Eagles forever, he was actually only on the team for four seasons. After the 2004 season, Mitchell was waived by the Eagles. Speculation for his release was due to his idiotic comments prior to and following the Eagles' Super Bowl XXXIX loss against the New England Patriots.
While Freddie Mitchell was again, never a terrible player, he never showed anything resembling the worthiness of his first round selection. His career only consisted of 90 catches for just over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns. For any receiver that plays four seasons that is bad, but for a first-round pick? Maybe after second thought he was a terrible player.
Mitchell is now serving a 37-month sentence in prison for tax fraud.
16 MARCUS SMITH II - 2014
While Marcus Smith is still a work in progress, he should have never been selected in the first-round. To be specific, Smith was taken 26th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Louisville. When the Eagles took him in 2014, Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman pleaded with fans to give him a chance to develop. While Smith has seen the field more often this season than his previous two, he still has not become worthy of his first-round selection at all. In three seasons with the Eagles, he has played in 36 games, started none, amounting in 14 tackles, and just a trio of sacks.
While fans are still crossing their fingers and praying that the Philadelphia Eagles organization did not waste another first-round pick, it would appear that Marcus Smith II may be gone after this season.
15 MIKE MAMULA - 1995
Mike Mamula was actually a very underrated player. While he was held to only five seasons due to various injuries, when Mamula did play, he was some force to be reckoned with. After being selected seventh overall by the Eagles in the 1995 NFL Draft (traded up with Tampa Bay) out of Boston College, Mamula went on to amass 209 tackles, 31.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and one interception, all in 77 games played. While those are not the greatest statistics in the world, they are pretty impressive. It is unfortunate that Mamula falls to 15th on this list, but he was selected over Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.
So, while Mike Mamula was not a bad player, he was just not durable enough to be considered a good first-round pick. It also hurts to know that the Eagles traded the Buccaneers the pick that earned them Warren Sapp, but we will leave the past in the past.
14 NELSON AGHOLOR - 2015
The only reason why Nelson Agholor, who was drafted 20th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft out of USC, is listed here, is due to him only being in his second season. Even so, Agholor went from looking like a draft steal to a huge draft bust. Coming out of USC, NFL scouts raved about Agholor's speed and great ability to return the football, but so far in his career, Agholor has shown nothing but the inability to get open, has dropped passes, and has had lackluster returns. After posting just under 1,700 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns in his senior season at USC, he is yet to break even 700 yards combined in his first two seasons as a professional.
Maybe Agholor needs two full seasons to adjust to the NFL game like it took him to adjust to the college game, but if he does not pick it up soon, he will be on the streets looking for a new job.
13 JERMANE MAYBERRY - 1996
Jermane Mayberry was selected 25th overall in the 1996 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M. There is not much to say about Mayberry as he was a late first-round offensive guard taken by the Eagles who ended up becoming a fairly solid and reliable offensive lineman for nine seasons. He actually made it to the 2002 Pro Bowl and was also voted an All-Pro in 2002.
Unfortunately, Jermane Mayberry does not have a comical backstory like Danny Watkins so he ends up just being your everyday bring-your-bucket-to-work offensive lineman. While that is completely okay for a lineman in the NFL, it does not make for a great story. The last thing to say about Mayberry is that he played one season with the New Orleans Saints before retiring in 2006.
12 BRODRICK BUNKLEY - 2006
Brodrick Bunkley was always a solid player, but unfortunately, we are starting to get to some very good players that the Eagles selected. In the 2006 NFL Draft, Bunkley went 14th overall and was taken out of Florida State. Bunkley ended up playing five seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles. While in Philadelphia, Bunkley was known by fans as a hard-nosed, Philly-type of player. After his five-year stay, Bunkley was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2011. Even though he played in all 16 games in the 2011 season for the Broncos, the team opted not to re-sign him in the offseason. In March of 2012, Bunkley signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the New Orleans Saints. He ended up only fulfilling two of the five years on the contract though as the Saints released him in the summer of 2015 after failing a physical.
Brodrick Bunkley was always a solid player who was often a very strong run stopper. Over the course of his career, Bunkley amounted 240 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, and nine passes defended. He was not the Eagles' greatest pick ever, but he was not a bad one either.
11 MIKE PATTERSON - 2005
Mike Patterson was selected 31st overall out of USC in the 2005 NFL Draft. Patterson was a great asset for the Philadelphia Eagles for the eight seasons that he played for them. He only played two seasons after that (with the New York Giants), but he was not as effective them as he was when he was with the Eagles.
While Patterson did not amass a ton of sacks over the course of his career, he was a strong run stopper and a lot to handle for offensive linemen. Mike Patterson was very often a fan favorite as he was another guy who truly emulated what a "Philly" player was/is. Over the course of his decade long NFL career, Patterson amassed 388 combined tackles, 16.5 sacks, eight fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, four passes defended, and one interception. He was a pretty good pick for where he was taken, but the players ahead of him were just better.
10 COREY SIMON - 2000
Corey Simon was selected sixth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Florida State. For a sixth overall pick, Simon was not all that. He was never a bad professional football player, but from a player drafted that high, you would expect a lot more. Simon played only seven seasons in the NFL; five with the Philadelphia Eagles, one with the Indianapolis Colts, and one with the Tennessee Titans.
While Simon was able to make it to one Pro Bowl (in 2003), he did not do much else that is worth noting. He did play in the 2004 Super Bowl with the Eagles when they were defeated by the New England Patriots 24-21. Over the course of his seven-year career, Simon accumulated 246 combined tackles, 32.0 sacks, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and 14 passes defended. Simon was always just an average player who put up decent numbers. Was he worthy of his sixth overall selection? Most likely not.
9 BRANDON GRAHAM - 2010
Brandon Graham was selected out of the University of Michigan with the 13th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham had a very strong career while at Michigan and seemed to be picked on that basis. Many Philadelphia fans were upset when he was picked ahead of Earl Thomas, but again, we will leave the past in the past.
Graham struggled in his early years with the Eagles. Many believed he may be cut after the 2011 season, in which, he played in only three games. Since 2014 though, Graham has seemed to have started to really come on and play like his draft pick suggested he should. Over the past three seasons, Graham has had more than twice the amount of combined tackles than he did over his first four seasons combined.
While Graham still is not at the level of Earl Thomas, he has picked up his play significantly and has played well enough for fans and analysts to believe that he may become a Pro Bowl player in the coming years.
8 JEREMY MACLIN - 2009
Jeremy Maclin was selected out of the University of Missouri with the 19th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. While Maclin was a very solid receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, he was never great. When he was offered $55 million (over five years) by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015, the Eagles were okay letting him go. For the majority of Maclin's time in Philadelphia, DeSean Jackson was the go-to-guy. Even when Maclin was the number one guy, he was still only able to amass a little over 1,300 yards. While that is not a bad number by any standards, Maclin was literally the only person on the Eagles with any talent at receiver. Even so, Maclin was able to earn a place in the Pro Bowl that year (2014). In 2015, Maclin had his second 1,000-plus yard receiving season with the Chiefs.
While Maclin was a solid pick by the Eagles, he was not a great pick. He has turned out to be a very reliable low-end number one to high-end number two receiver in the NFL. In 2016 he has been plagued with injuries, but given how he bounced back from tearing his ACL in 2013, he should be okay.
7 SHAWN ANDREWS - 2004
Shawn Andrews was drafted 16th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Arkansas. For being drafted in the middle of the first-round, Andrews churned out some fairly solid production. He was selected to three straight Pro Bowls from 2005 to 2007 and was a two-time All-Pro (2006 and 2007). While Andrews did do all of this, he was not an all around success. Sure, when he played in those three seasons, he was great. Before and after those three specific seasons though, Andrews production was all over the place. In his three Pro Bowl seasons, Andrews played all but one game. In his other four seasons though, Andrews played a combined 16 games.
Shawn Andrews, when he played, showed that he had talent. He was worthy of his first-round selection, but he just had too many injuries to be durable enough to stay effective in the NFL.
6 LANE JOHNSON - 2013
Lane Johnson was selected fourth overall in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. While Johnson has yet to be selected to a Pro Bowl, he most likely will in the near future. Johnson has looked very formidable since his rookie season, but it was not until this season that the Eagles and the fans realized how good and how valuable to the team he truly is. At the beginning of the season, Johnson was suspended by the league for 10 games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. While he waited on his appeal though, Johnson played and the Eagles went 3-0. Week 4 was a bye and the Eagles lost on a bad fumble at the end of the game by Ryan Mathews to the Detroit Lions in Week 5. Before Week 6 though, the appeals court denied Johnson's appeal and so he was forced to serve his 10 game ban. Over the next 10 games, the Eagles went 2-8.
The week he returned (Week 16), against the 10-4 New York Giants, the Eagles not only won, but they also seemed to magically solve all of their offensive line troubles.
While Lane Johnson has not yet received great national recognition, he should start to soon enough. He is a very tough player who is uber competitive and gives the Eagles a better chance to win every time he is on the field.
5 LITO SHEPPARD - 2002
Lito Sheppard was drafted 26th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. He played extremely well while at Florida and was very deserving of a first-round selection. For the Eagles, Sheppard was a fan favorite. Any time he intercepted a pass at home (Lincoln Financial Field), the stadium would play the Lido Shuffle and all of the fans would sing along. In his seven seasons with the Eagles, Sheppard was a tough player to face for any wide receiver. He was on the 2004 Super Bowl team.
After the 2008 season, Sheppard was traded to the New York Jets. He played three more seasons after leaving the Eagles; one with the Jets, one with the Minnesota Vikings, and one with the Oakland Raiders. He was never the same player after leaving the Eagles. Overall though, Lito Sheppard was a very good player.
4 TRA THOMAS - 1998
Tra Thomas was selected 11th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft out of Florida State. Thomas, hands-down, was a great player for the Eagles. Thomas deserved to be drafted where he was and he proved the Eagles right for picking him where they did. Not only was Thomas a very solid offensive tackle, but he also was extremely durable. In 11 seasons with the Eagles, Thomas only missed a total of 10 games, with six of those coming in the same season. It is extremely rare to find an offensive lineman who was as durable as Tra Thomas was in his days with the Eagles.
After leaving the Eagles as his career winded down in 2009, Thomas signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he played just eight games. After getting injured the next year in training camp with the San Diego Chargers, Thomas decided to hang up his spikes for the very last time. In August of 2012, Thomas officially retired from the NFL as a Philadelphia Eagle.
Speaking on his career, Thomas earned three trips to the Pro Bowl. In 2002, Thomas was also voted an All-Pro. What may be the most impressive thing about Thomas's entire career though, is that of the 174 games he played in the NFL, he started 168 of them.
3 FLETCHER COX - 2012
Fletcher Cox was drafted 12th overall by the Eagles in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State University. While Cox's first two seasons were not bad, they were not 12th overall pick good. Once 2014 rolled around though, Fletcher Cox was all over the field. Ever since 2014, Cox has only gotten better and better. He scares so many today that teams have begun double and triple teaming him just so he does not have any chance at all to get to their quarterbacks.
In 2015, Cox was selected to his first Pro Bowl. He was also voted as a Second-Team All-Pro. Cox has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl this year and he was again voted as a Second-Team All-Pro. Over the course of his five-year career, Cox has put up 252 combined tackles, 28.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and nine passes defended. Cox has been putting up monster numbers and do not expect him to slow down anytime soon. This guy was 100% worth his pick.
2 CARSON WENTZ - 2016
Carson Wentz was selected second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft out of North Dakota State University. While he is just a rookie, Carson Wentz has already shown that he is going to be the quarterback for at least the next decade for the Philadelphia Eagles (barring injury). Many thought that Wentz would have to sit for at least one season to get a handle on the NFL game due to his college play at an FCS school, but Wentz proved everyone wrong.
While Carson Wentz struggled a bit as this season went on, there is nothing to worry about with him. The offensive line struggled mightily to keep him even remotely protected and putting that kind of stress on any quarterback, let alone a rookie, is a recipe for failure. So, even though the numbers do not shout star, as long as the Eagles can put together even just an average to above average offensive line, Carson Wentz will take them places. He knows how to win. Hell, in his five seasons at North Dakota State, he won five FCS National Championships. That says something, even if he did not play all five seasons. He has been involved in tons of wins and understands very well what it means and what it takes to win.
1 DONOVAN MCNABB - 1999
Donovan McNabb is the top draft pick that the Philadelphia Eagles made in the past 20 years. Even though the fans booed him at the draft and the city was baffled by the pick, McNabb turned out to be everything that the Eagles had hoped for. McNabb was able to lead the Eagles to four NFC East Division Championships, five NFC Championship appearances, and one Super Bowl appearance in 2004.
McNabb was selected to the Pro Bowl six times in his career and in 2004, he won the award for NFC Offensive Player of the Year and NFC Player of the Year. The Philadelphia Eagles have retired his number 5 and have inducted him into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. McNabb clearly has had one of the most illustrious careers in Philadelphia Eagles team history and was extremely deserving of his second overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Syracuse.
Donovan McNabb was a great player for the Eagles. It is a shame that he was unable to lead them to more than just one Super Bowl after five NFC Championship appearances, but regardless of the results in those games, the mere fact that he led his team to five is extremely impressive. McNabb very well could end up a Hall of Famer.
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