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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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