Dononvan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Tra Thomas, Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins all were draft picks that helped build the core of the team.
That’s not the case so much anymore, as Reid has struggled in recent drafts and had to rely on free agent acquisitions and players via trade. Michael Vick was signed in free agency, as were Jason Peters, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Nnamdi Asomugha, while DeMeco Ryans was brought over in a trade.
The 2011 draft epitomizes Reid’s recent draft struggles, as he went a big 0-for-4 with his first four selections.
Reid picked 26-year-old guard Danny Watkins out of Baylor University with the 23rd overall pick, and Watkins has shown very little production in both pass and run protection. Watkins is currently dealing with an ankle injury, one that may eventually cost him his job as a starter.
The Eagles definitely needed a right guard at the time Reid selected Watkins, unless the team wanted to go through another miserable campaign with Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole at the position. But choosing the oldest first round pick in history (at the time) and one who hadn’t played organized football until he was in his twenties was questionable.
Reid’s second round pick was Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who lasted all of one season in Philadelphia before he was released in this year’s training camp. Jarrett looked awful in limited action last year, missing tackles and struggling in pass coverage. He was simply overmatched at the NFL level.
In the third round, Reid went for cornerback Curtis Marsh, a converted running back who has played all of 22 snaps at the cornerback position in the NFL. Reid drafted Marsh with the understanding that he’s a project who would take several seasons to groom, but there’s really nothing to indicate he will be successful in the National Football League.
Reid’s fourth pick was Casey Matthews, a linebacker who became notorious with the Eagles’ early-season struggles in the fourth quarter back in 2011.
In all fairness, Reid should never have forced a fourth round rookie into a starting role in Week 1, but Matthews still has played very sparingly even in his second year. He will probably be released sometime in next year’s training camp.
Reid seems to have connected with fourth round kicker Alex Henery, who has quietly become one of the better placekickers in the league.
And he may have connected with sixth round center Jason Kelce, who was immediately thrust into a starting role as a rookie. Kelce was expected to have a big impact in year two with Philadelphia, but he suffered a torn MCL that put him on injured reserve for 2012.
Kelce may develop into a solid center and a productive blocker, and seventh round fullback Stanley Havili is an excellent blocker for LeSean McCoy in the running game.
Overall though, hitting on one of the fourth round picks, a sixth round pick and a seventh round pick shouldn’t be enough to negate four dreadful selections to begin the draft.
The 2011 draft will probably go down as the worst first four picks of the Reid era thus far. It just edges out 2010 (Brandon Graham in the first round and defensive end Daniel Te’o Nesheim in the third round) and 2003 (Jerome McDougle, L.J. Smith, Billy McMullen and Jamaal Green).
Then again, there’s still room for improvement from these first four picks. But from what’s been evident so far, the draft could be an all-time worst.