By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
When the NFL Draft kicks off tonight in Chicago, the Eagles are going to make a wild, franchise-altering move for a certain former Oregon Ducks quarterback…or they’ll do nothing and pick at number 20…or maybe something in-between. No one really knows and that’s part of what makes draft night so exciting in any sport, but there’s obviously a particular buzz this year in Philadelphia given to proclivity Chip Kelly has shown to being an unconventional risk-taker.
Before that happens though, let’s take a look back at the past 10 first-round draft picks by the Eagles and grade how they eventually panned out for the team.
(All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference)
2005 – Mike Patterson (31) – DT
Patterson was a perennial starter on the D-line for the Birds, racking up an approximate value of 52 in his 8 seasons with the club. He gave everyone a scare after he collapsed on the training camp field in training camp in 2011 with what was later diagnosed as an “AVM” on his brain. Fortunately, surgery went well and after one more year with the Eagles, his career has continued as a rotation player with the Giants.
2006 – Brodrick Bunkley (14) – DT
Andy Reid: “That’s always your objective with the number-one pick. It just hasn’t gone in that direction yet. We need more production out of him when he is out there.”
Bunkley played 5 seasons with the club, accruing an approximate value of 29 in the Eagles green and white, forming a solid defensive line tandem with Patterson for a chunk of Andy Reid’s coaching tenure. Still, more was always expected of Bunkley after being taken in the first half of the 1st-round. After the signing of Cullen Jenkins, the Eagles traded Bunkley to the Broncos for a conditional draft pick; after 1 season in Denver, he’s spent the last few seasons in New Orleans.
2007 – Traded 1st round pick for 2nd-rounder (Kevin Kolb), 3rd-rounder (Stewart Bradley), and 5th-rounder (C.J. Gaddis)
Kolb made a total of 7 starts in his 4 years in Philadelphia, racking up an approximate value of 5. He was then shipped to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd-round pick (Vinny Curry). Kolb’s career was eventually cut short by a series of concussions. DRC was a part of the infamous ‘Dream Team’ and left after two seasons. Curry has never started a game, but racked up 9 sacks last season as a rotational pass-rusher.
Bradley showed promise in his 2nd season in 2008, starting every game at middle linebacker and accruing an approximate value of 10 for the season. However, he would then tear his ACL and miss the entire 2009 season. Bradley didn’t look quite the same in his 2010 return and moved on to Arizona for a couple years before having one final season in Denver. He’s now out of the league.
C.J. Gaddis was released before the start of his rookie season.
Grade: C+ (Basically saved by Vinny Curry)
2008 – Traded 1st round pick for 2nd-rounder (traded again for Trevor Laws and Quintin Demps, also giving up a 5th-rounder), 4th-rounder (Mike McGlynn) and Carolina’s 2009 1st-rounder (traded again along with a 4th and a 6th-rounder for Jason Peters)
Laws was a part-time rotational player on the D-line during his 4 seasons in Philadelphia. Demps spent just 2 seasons in Philadelphia, used mainly as a kick returner. McGlynn had one decent season as a starting guard in 2010 before moving on to Cincinnati.
Still, in his 6 seasons with the Eagles, Jason Peters has made 4 Pro Bowls and been an All-Pro tackle twice as one of the best players in the league at his position.
2009 – Traded 21st pick and 6th-rounder for 19th pick (Jeremy Maclin)
Andy Reid was determined to move up a couple spots and ensure he got the receiver he coveted, Jeremy Maclin. Maclin had 4 solid seasons in Philadelphia before tearing his ACL and missing the 2013 season. However, he would return with a vengeance, flourishing under Chip Kelly’s offense to grab 85 receptions for 1,318 yards last season. Unfortunately, that production made him a highly sought-after free agent, and he signed with Kansas City to reunite with old coach Andy Reid.
2010 – Brandon Graham (13) – DE
Brandon Graham has always shown promise, but for whatever reason, has never been given the opportunity to be a full-time player for the Birds in his 5 seasons. He had arguably his best season last year, racking up 5.5 sacks and forcing 4 fumbles. The team signed him to a new deal in the offseason; we’ll see if he’s a bigger part of the Trent Cole-less defense moving forward.
Grade: C+ (still with room to go up)
2011 – Danny Watkins (23) – G
Howard Mudd: “I coached many players over many years, and not reaching Danny Watkins was my biggest failure,”
The Canadian firefighter flamed out in the NFL. After only 2 seasons with the Eagles, Watkins went to Miami, where he suited up for just 1 game with the Dolphins before exiting the league. Watkins finished with just 18 career starts and a total approximate value of 9, a terrible return for a 1st-round pick.
2012 – Fletcher Cox (12) – DT
After sacking quarterbacks 5.5 times his rookie season, Cox has started all 32 of Philadelphia’s games the past two seasons, including an awesome campaign last year with an approximate value of 13 and 2nd-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press. Hopefully, Cox will be anchoring the defensive line for the Eagles for a long time.
2013 – Lane Johnson (4) – OT
Johnson has been a solid, if not spectacular, player for the Eagles in his first two seasons. He’s started 28 of a possible 32 games, only missing 4 contests for a PED suspension at the beginning of last season. Having a guy you can feel confident plugging in at tackle on Day One is certainly valuable, but you only get the 4th pick in the draft every so often (hopefully) and you would hope to get a franchise-changing talent there.
2014 – Marcus Smith (26) – DE
After the prospects they coveted were all gone by the time the 22nd pick rolled around, the Eagles traded back and selected Marcus Smith, a pick that was considered a huge reach even on draft day. He did nothing to dispel that notion in his rookie season, playing a total of 74 snaps and recording zero tackles. There are already rumors flying around that the Eagles may try to trade him as a part of this year’s draft craziness.
Final Tally: 2 A’s, 3 B’s, 3 C’s, 2 F’s; about as middle-of-the-road as you could expect to see. Let’s hope Chip Kelly’s regime as full-on decision-maker tilts the balance in the Eagles’ favor.