Sunday, April 18, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles 2010 Draft: Predicting Success Based On History

Philadelphia Eagles v Baltimore Ravens

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the offseason with some clear needs on both sides of the ball. As the team heads toward the 2010 NFL Draft on Thursday, the front office's activity over the past few months has served to increase both the wish list and the number of selections available to address it.

The debate in Philly continues to rage whether the Eagles are in a rebuilding mode or simply passing the torch to younger players who can maintain the same level of play. For what its worth, new GM Howie Roseman and Andy Reid have both proclaimed that the team is not rebuilding.

The Eagles organization reportedly believes that they can adequately address holes with the abundance of picks they have accumulated in a deep draft.

Most experts and fans would agree that the team needs are the following:

1) safety, 2) linebacker, 3) cornerback, 4) defensive end, 5) center, 6) guard, and 7) running back.

With the Easter evening trade of Donovan McNabb, the Eagles now have a total of 11 picks, including seven in the first 4 rounds. Here is a breakdown showing the round and placement of the Eagles 2010 draft picks:

1.24, 2.05, 2.23, 3.06, 3.23, 4.07, 4.23, 5.06, 6.31, 7.36, 7.37.

When the NFL kicks things off on Thursday night, how the Eagles brass goes about using that abundance of picks will reveal whether the team will seriously compete in 2010 or whether they are in the midst of a longer range rebuilding program?

Although the Reid era Eagles have a history of taking players that are not necessarily immediate team needs, players, fans and the front office all know that failing to address clear weaknesses will send a strong signal about what to expect this season.

Assuming that Roseman's and Reid's proclamations are not disingenuous, the question becomes what is the likelihood of the Eagles filling their many needs? And, more importantly, what are the chances that the team will draft enough difference makers to position itself for ongoing success?

Even with a good draft, the reality is that only a few picks each season make a significant impact. For every Brent Celek there are three Tony Hunt's.

In order to put it in perspective, I have reviewed the previous 11 draft classes in the Reid era. Although the number of picks and spots can vary quite a bit, assessing the impact of each year's selections helps us to predict what to expect this time around.

For purposes of assessment, the players are assigned to these categories:

Franchise Players- Perennial star players recognized amongst organization's best

Quality Starters- Above average performers who are Pro Bowl candidates

Average Starters- Legitimate NFL starter of average quality

Reserves- Worthy of earning and retaining a roster spot


1.02 QB Donovan McNabb

2.04 LB Barry Gardner

4.33 DB Damon Moore

4.35 WR Na Brown

6.03 RB Cecil Martin

6.32 WR Troy Smith

7.02 TE Jed Weaver

7.45 DL Pernell Davis


Donovan McNabb was a franchise changing selection with the second overall pick as he went on to the lead the team to a 92-48-1 record over 11 seasons. Apparently the Eagles' brass felt so good about the pick, they took off the remainder of the draft.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 1 McNabb

Quality Starters 0

Average Starters 0

Reserves 3 Gardner, Moore, Martin

Overall Impact to Team A+


1.06 DL Corey Simon

2.05 WR Todd Pinkston

2.30 OL Bobbie Williams

4.05 WR Gari Scott

6.05 RB Thomas Hamner

6.12 DL John Frank

6.26 OL John Romero


Corey Simon anchored the middle of the Eagles defensive line for five seasons, possessing the mass and leverage to stuff the run and collapse the pocket. As injuries continued to erode his effectiveness, the team moved him in 2005. Bobbie Williams turned in a few solid seasons for the Birds before joining the Bengals as a free agent. The fact that the rail thin Todd Pinkston started for the Eagles for four seasons serves as testimony that the team had a horrible receiving corps until Terrell Owens joined the team in 2004. He was surely not an NFL starting caliber receiver.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Simon

Average Starters 1 Williams

Reserves 1 Pinkston

Overall Impact to Team C-


1.25 WR Freddie Mitchell

2.24 LB Quinton Caver

3.01 DL Derrick Burgess

4.26 RB Correll Buckhalter

5.16 TE Tony Stewart

5.24 QB A.J. Feeley


First round pick Freddie Mitchell had his "4th and 26" moment in the sun and was otherwise a huge bust. If he had not been a first round selection and played on the worst receiving unit in the NFL, he may have never played in the league. Caver was a deja vu second round bust like Gardner. Burgess showed potential on the Eagles before signing with Oakland and starring for a couple seasons. Buckhalter was oft injured, but a solid reserve. Birds fans once favored Feeley to take the starting role from McNabb, but he eventually proved that he belonged as a back-up.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Burgess

Average Starters 0

Reserves 3 Buckhalter, Feeley, Caver

Overall Impact to Team D


1.26 DB Lito Shepard

2.26 DB Michael Lewis

2.27 DB Sheldon Brown

3.26 RB Brian Westbrook

4.26 OL Scott Peters

5.27 WR Freddie Milons

6.26 LB Tyreo Harrison

7.27 DL Raheem Brock


This was the best draft in the Andy Reid era. Lito Shepard started five out of his seven seasons in Philly and was mostly a Pro Bowl quality corner. Contract squabbles eventually put him on the bench and punched his ticket out of town. Michael Lewis turned in a few strong seasons as the starting strong safety, including 2004 when was selected for the Pro Bowl and All-Pro Team.

Although he did not receive the same level of league recognition, Sheldon Brown turned out to be the best of the three D-backs. He became a fixture at cornerback before money issues led to his departure this month. Brian Westbrook proved to be an absolute steal and went on to become one of the Eagles all-time greats before getting the fateful ring from Andy Reid on his cell phone in March.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 1 Westbrook

Quality Starters 2 Brown, Shepard

Average Starters 1 Lewis

Reserves 0

Overall Impact to Team A+


1.15 DL Jerome McDougle

2.29 TE L.J. Smith

3.31 WR Billy McMullen

4.34 DL Jamaal Green

6.12 OL Jeremy Bridges

7.30 DB Norman LeJeune


The Eagles traded up to take Miami's Jerome McDougle with the 15th pick hoping that he would terrorize opposing quarterbacks. After registering two sacks in his three seasons, the team cut him loose. The "high ceiling" L.J Smith spent six seasons in Philly dropping passes and missing blocks before being released.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 0

Average Starters 1 Smith

Reserves 1

Overall Impact to Team F


1.16 OL Shawn Andrews

3.26 DB Matt Ware

4.33 DB J.R. Reed

4.35 OL Trey Darilek

5.30 RB Thomas Tapeh

6.20 QB Andy Hall

6.27 DB Dexter Wynn

7.26 OL Adrien Clarke

7.41 RB Bruce Perry

7.42 OL Dominic Furio


The Eagles chose mammoth Shawn Andrews with the 16th pick despite having a reputation as being an under-achiever lacking drive. It appeared to be a brilliant move as he appeared headed for Canton until the wheels came off the bus with multiple injuries and bouts of depression. Thomas Tapeh filled a full-back role for a few seasons, while Reed hung on as back-up. After one season in Philly, Ware still plays for the Cardinals.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Andrews

Average Starters 0

Reserves 2 Ware, Reed, Tapeh

Overall Impact to Team C+


1.31 DL Mike Patterson

2.03 WR Reggie Brown

2.31 LB Matt McCoy

3.13 RB Ryan Moats

4.01 DB Sean Considine

4.25 OL Todd Herremans

5.10 DL Trent Cole

5.36 OL Scott Young

6.37 OL Calvin Armstrong

7.33 DL Keyonta Marshall

7.38 LB David Bergeron


Similar to this season, the Eagles stockpiled 11 picks. Mike Patterson continues to provide a solid presence on the interior of the defensive line and Todd Herremans is a versatile starter on the offensive line. Fifth round steal Trent Cole is one of the top picks in the Reid era as the team's best pass rusher over the past five years. Reggie Brown, Sean Considine and Ryan Moats are all hanging on elsewhere.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Cole

Average Starters 2 Patterson, Herremans

Reserves 3 Brown, Moats, Considine

Overall Impact to Team B+


1.14 DL Broderick Bunkley

2.07 OL Winston Justice

3.07 LB Chris Gocong

4.02 OL Max Jean-Gilles

4.12 WR Jason Avant

5.14 WR Jeremy Bloom

5.35 LB Omar Gaither

6.35 DL LaJuan Ramsey


Although the team has gotten substantial mileage out of six players from this draft and all have started, none are above average. Broderick Bunkley is a solid part of the defensive line rotation. Winston Justice and Max Jean-Gilles emerged as starters in 2009. Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong appear to be falling short of their projected potential, with the latter having been traded in the offseason. Jason Avant is a sure-handed, tough possession receiver and possibly the best of the bunch.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 0

Average Starters 3 Bunkley, Justice, Jean-Gilles

Reserves 3 Avant, Gaither, Gocong

Overall Impact to Team B


2.04 QB Kevin Kolb

2.25 DL Victor Abiamiri

3.23 LB Stewart Bradley

3.26 RB Tony Hunt

5.22 DB CJ Gaddis

5.25 TE Brent Celek

6.27 DB Rashad Barksdale

7.26 RB Nate Ilaoa


This could prove to be one of, if not the, best drafts for Reid—or his undoing. Brent Celek emerged as a Pro Bowl caliber tight-end who has the potential to be one of the league's best. Stewart Bradley was asserting himself as a scheme diverse linebacker before tearing up his knee. Victor Abiamiri has flashed potential, but cannot stay on the field and is wearing out his welcome.

The variable that could push this way up the list is Kevin Kolb if he realizes the potential envisioned by his coach and many fans. Of course, if he turns out to be an AJ Feeley facsimile, this draft class could have tremendous negative impact on the franchise for years to come with McNabb now in a Redskins uniform.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Celek

Average Starters 2 Bradley, Kolb

Reserves 1 Abiamiri

Overall Impact to Team B (semester still in session)


2.16 DL Trevor Laws

2.18 WR DeSean Jackson

3.17 DL Bryan Smith

4.10 OL Mike McGlynn

4.18 DB Quintin Demps

4.32 DB Jack Ikegwuonu

6.18 OL Mike Gibson

6.34 LB Joe Mays

6.37 LB Andy Studebaker

7.23 OL King Dunlap


DeSean Jackson stands out in this draft group with a strong rookie campaign, followed by a Pro Bowl season in 2009. His explosiveness makes him the key component of the team's revamped offense. Quintin Demps showed potential in his first year, but has struggled since. Trevor Laws has the makings of a bust, but the team is going to give him a shot in training camp to prove that wrong. Mike McGlynn, Joe Mays and King Dunlap continue to hang on as reserves for now.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 1 Jackson

Average Starters 0

Reserves 5 Demps, Laws, Mays, Dunlap, McGlynn

Overall Impact to Team B+


1.19 WR Jeremy Maclin

2.21 RB LeSean McCoy

5.17 TE Cornelius Ingram

5.21 DB Victor Harris

5.23 OL Fenuki Tupou

6.21 WR Brandon Gibson

7.04 OL Paul Fanaika

7.21 LB Moise Fokou


As the surprise 19th pick, Jeremy Maclin was solid in his rookie campaign, but did not demonstrate the same explosiveness as Jackson. LeSean McCoy is the starter with Westbrook gone, but has not yet displayed a lot of burst and falls in the bottom third of NFL starting running backs. Both are young and have the potential to blossom into quality starters, though, as they continue their NFL education.

Macho Harris was a playmaker in college, but not so much in the NFL. Although he appears a step slow to play corner, he still may work out at safety. Moise Fokou is listed as a starter on the depth chart, but the Eagles will almost surely attempt to upgrade the position in the draft. The team took a flier on Cornelius Ingram, but after re-injuring his knee last summer, his upside potential may never be realized.

Impact Report Card

Franchise Players 0

Quality Starters 0

Average Starters 3 Maclin, McCoy, Harris

Reserves 1 Fokou

Overall Impact to Team B (but could go higher)

The Final Word

Over the past 11 years, the Eagles have added two "Franchise" players (McNabb, Westbrook), eight "Quality Starters", and 12 "Average Starters." That averages out to exactly two starters per draft—with one being a star caliber player.

The impact of each year's draft has ranged from an "A+" in 1999 and 2002 to an "F" in 2003. Overall, the Eagles have averaged a B- throughout the period.

Those seeing the situation as "glass half full" will point to the number of picks that the team holds and the depth of quality of this year's draft class.

The historical perspective may tend to toss the contents of that glass on those optimists by recognizing that the draft might not yield enough impact players to adequately fill current needs.

Comparing this season with the 2005 and 2008 drafts when the club possessed a similar abundance of picks would suggest that the Eagles could come away with one star caliber player and two starters.

Of course, the team and fans hope for a 2002 type performance that, along with Kolb meeting expectations, could propel the team to continuing prosperity. If instead they fall around historical average, will the impact be enough?


1. The Eagles will draft both a safety and linebacker that will step into starting roles and eventually become impact players.

2. They will also draft a defensive end, but once again come away with a player that disappoints.

3. As they have done in the past, the Eagles will draft a cornerback, groom him next season and then plug him into a starting role for several years.

4. Lastly, with this year's depth and Reid's eye for offensive lineman, they should come away with a starting quality guard or center.

Expect the impact players to come from these names:

Safety- Taylor Mays or Nate Allen

Linebacker- Sean Weatherspoon or Navorro Bowman

Cornerback- Devin McCourty or Chris Cook

OL- J.D. Walton, Eric Olsen, Mitch Petrus, or Marshall Newhouse

And, one last note—the Eagles brass will be feeling some pressure when pick 2.05 comes rolling around. Neither Reid nor Roseman want their legacy to be that they traded Donovan McNabb for Reggie Brown or Todd Pinkston.

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