Philadelphia Eagles: 10 Most Underrated Draft Picks of the Andy Reid Era
Say what you want about the success of Andy Reid's recent early draft picks, the man knows how to identify late-round talent and develop them into quality starters for years to come. Players like Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarret, Brandon Graham and Curtis Marsh havn't had the early success that some fans expected, but the Eagles have still had late-round success with players like Kurt Coleman, Jason Kelce and Brian Rolle.
Andy Reid has been something of a draft whiz since becoming the Eagles head coach in 1999. Since he drafted his first pick, Donovan McNabb, to some of his late-round success late April, Reid has owned the NFL Draft.
The Eagles have actually had more success in the latter rounds under Reid then in the early rounds. Here are 10 examples of Reid's draft mastery.
10. Jason Kelce
It's hard to call a player who has only played one season in the NFL one of Andy Reid's most underrated draft picks, but Jason Kelce is certainly in that category.
Kelce, a sixth-round pick in 2011, became the Eagles starting center in a very shortened offseason. Kelce has become the perfect fit at center in Howard Mudd's blocking scheme. He was passed over by every single team in the 2011 draft mainly because he was undersized.
Kelce has become one of the best centers at getting upfield and making blocks on screens. His athleticism has made him one of the best centers in the game in just his first season.
Kelce is a prime example of how to approach the late rounds in the draft. You draft the best players available that fit your scheme.
9. Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb got mixed reviews from the fans during his days in Philly. Despite his inconsistencies, McNabb was a great selection at the No. 2 overall pick in 1999. He was a franchise quarterback from day one and led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games.
Everyone remembers who much Eagles fans hated the selection of McNabb over Ricky Williams at the time. His success over 11 years for the Eagles made him one of the best selections in the 1999 draft. You never really know how successful a player will be heading into the draft, no matter how early the pick is. McNabb exceeded his No. 2 overall pick, despite never winning the big game.
8. Kevin Kolb
The reason Kolb was such a great pick back in 2007 is that Andy Reid was able to turn his former second-round pick to another second-round pick in 2012 from the Arizona Cardinals and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade with Arizona in 2011.
Kolb has failed to live up to his trade value with the Cardinals, while the Eagles have a solid No. 2 corner in Rodgers-Cromartie and a similar second-round pick they spent on Kolb just five seasons ago. The draft selection of Kolb was one of the most profitable draft picks in the Eagles history.
7. Jason Avant
Jason Avant was the 109th pick of the 2006 draft, but his value far exceeded his draft pick. He has become one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league.
Avant is one of the top slot receivers in the game and a solid contributor on special teams as well. He suffered a concussion on the block that sprung DeSean Jackson free on the punt return on the final play of the "Miracle at the New Meadowlands" in 2010.
Avant's leadership and intangibles can't be measured. He is a great addition to the Eagles locker room and a very reliable receiver who has already racked up over 200 receptions and over 2,500 receiving yards as an Eagle.
6. Brent Celek
Brent Celek was a great selection in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft. Celek has nearly 3,000 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns since being drafted by Andy Reid in 2007. Not bad for a player who wasn't even invited to the 2007 NFL Combine.
Celek has become a complete tight end capable of making the big catches over the middle and is a reliable blocker in both pass protection and in the running game.
Celek is a borderline Pro Bowl caliber tight end who is still in his prime.
5. Brian Westbrook
Brian Westbrook was a little known running back out of Villanova that turned out to be one of the best picks in the 2002 NFL draft. Had his knees held up longer he might have become a Hall of Fame player when he was eligible.
Westbrook was the 91st overall pick in the 2002 and quickly become the Marshall Faulk of the 2000s. He was as dangerous a receiver as he was a runner. He went over 1,500 total yards three times in his career (2004, 2006 and 2007).
Knee injuries slowed him down late in his career and forced him out of the league at age 31, but during the mid-2000s, he was the Eagles offense. Had he been able to play at a high level for a couple more seasons, he would have been the best draft pick Andy Reid made with the Eagles to date.
4. DeSean Jackson
2008 was one of the weakest wide receiver classes in recent memory, but one receiver stood out. DeSean Jackson was the 49th overall pick of the 2008 draft and was the fifth wide receiver taken.
Donnie Avery, Devin Thomas, James Hardy, Eddie Royal and Jerome Simpson were all taken before Jackson in the second round, but only Simpson has been labeled a success.
Jackson has become the most dangerous receiver in all of football. His speed forces defenses to keep their safeties back to try and prevent the deep ball. He is also one of the most dangerous punt returners in the game as well.
3. LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft to be a complement to Brian Westbrook and a future replacement. He made Eagles fans forget about Westbrook in his second season. He has gone over 1,500 total yards in 2010 and 2011.
McCoy finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2011. In just three seasons in the league, he has become one of the most complete backs in the NFL. He is one of the most dangerous rushers in the league, capable of taking it to the house on any given run. He is also almost as dangerous receiver and one of the best backs in pass protection as well.
McCoy has become an elite player in the league in a very short time. At the age of 23, he hasn't even scratched the surface on how good of a player he will become.
2. Todd Herremans
The Eagles selected Todd Herremans in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL draft, despite not being invited to the NFL Combine. Herremans has had success on the Eagles offensive line as both a guard and tackle.
Shortly before the start of the 2011 regular season, Herremans was forced to move from left guard, where he had played since 2006 to right tackle. He thrived at the position from Week 1.
Herremans move to right tackle allowed Evan Mathis to take over at left guard. Both players played at a Pro Bowl-caliber level in 2011.
Herremans was recently extended through the 2016 season. He has been one of the Eagles' most reliable linemen since 2006 and will probably continue to play at a high level through his current contract.
1. Trent Cole
Trent Cole was an absolute steal in the 2005 NFL draft. Cole was the 146th overall pick, but proved to be a top 10-caliber talent.
Cole started three games in his rookie season in 2005 but became a full-time starter in 2006 and has never looked back. He has racked up at least eight sacks every single season since becoming a full-time starter, including 12.5 sacks in 2007 and again in 2009.
Cole is just eight sacks behind Clyde Simmons for second on the all-time sacks list.
Sacks don't tell the whole story with Cole, which is pretty impressive for a guy that has averaged over 10 sacks a season since 2006. He has become one of the best run defending ends in the game.
Now that Cole has some more help on the line with Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins he should continue to put up big numbers well into his 30s. He should make a serious run at Reggie White's 124 career sacks with the Eagles.