Philadelphia Eagles: 10 Best Draft Picks in the Andy Reid Era
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Andy Reid just took part in his 13th NFL draft as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Over that span he has very mixed results, from the outstanding draft class of 2002 to the mostly forgettable draft class of 2003.
Let's take a look at Andy's ten best draft choices using overall success in the NFL and draft position as measuring sticks.
NOTE: The draft class of 2011 won't be considered.
Number 10: Lito Sheppard
Lito Sheppard played for the Eagles for 7 years.
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Lito Sheppard was selected in the first round (26th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. Sheppard played 7 effective seasons, 93 games, as the starting cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles. In those 93 games Lito recorded 278 tackles, 18 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 2 sacks. That is a pretty solid career at a premier position.
Unfortunately, his career with the Eagles didn't end very well. In 2008 Sheppard publicly talked about his desire for a new contract, including demands for more money. His proposed contract didn't match up with the stats listed above, he simply was asking for too much. As a result, the Eagles traded him to the Jets before the 2009 season.
Number 9: Derrick Burgess
Burgess helped the Eagles get to the Superbowl in 2004.
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Defensive End Derrick Burgess was selected in the 3rd round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Injuries were the story with Burgess in his first two years with the Eagles, only playing in 17 games over two years. Burgess put together a strong 2004, playing in 12 games and recording 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks. More importantly was his play in the NFC Championship game against Mike Vick. He helped contain Vick and send the Eagles to the Superbowl. This wasn't enough to keep him on the team though. Playing in only 29 games over 3 years, the Eagles labeled him an injury risk and shipped him to the Raiders after the 2004 season.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Burgess' career blossomed in Oakland. In his first season with the Raiders Burgess played in all 16 games and recorded 57 tackles and 16 sacks. Burgess has gone on to amass 262 tackles, 52 sacks and 6 forced fumbles over an 8 year career. Those are some pretty good numbers for a third round draft pick out of Mississippi.
Number 8: Brent Celek
Brent Celek should rebound from a down year in 2010 and become more like the player he was in 2009.
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Tight End Brent Celek was selected in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. This pick netted the Eagles a ton of value. With this pick, the Eagles were able to secure themselves a starting tight end for the foreseeable future. Celek has been steady for the Eagles, playing in all 16 games in each of his first 4 seasons with the team. Celek really broke out in 2009 by amassing 971 receiving yards on 76 receptions and catching 8 TD passes. His numbers dipped in 2010, recording only 511 receiving yards on 42 receptions. Though this may have been due to the fact that he was asked to block more due to the weak play of the offensive line in 2010.
Celek should rebound from a down year and continue to put up solid numbers as the Eagles starting tight end.
Number 7: Sheldon Brown
Sheldon Brown put a memorable hit on Reggie Bush in the playoffs.
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With the 59th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected CB Sheldon Brown out of South Carolina. Brown, in tandem with Lito Sheppard, helped form one of the most formidable secondaries in the NFL in their prime. Brown played for 8 seasons with the Eagles, never missing a game over that span. In those 8 seasons, Brown recorded 431 tackles, 19 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles. Brown was a premier cover corner in the league. He went on the have a better career than Sheppard, who was drafted 33 spots ahead of him in the same draft.
Despite all these accomplishments, Brown will most be known for one of the hardest hits in recent NFL history. On the first play from scrimmage in the 2006 NFC Divisional game, Brown crushed Reggie Bush after he caught a screen pass from Drew Brees. Bush was taken out of the game for a few plays.
Much like Sheppard, Brown became unhappy with his contract situation. He was eventually traded to the Cleveland Browns before the 2010 season as a result of this.
Number 6: Shawn Andrews
Injuries and off the field issues derailed Andrews' career with the Eagles.
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The only reason Shawn Andrews isn't ranked higher is because he turned out to be quite a nut job and the Eagles were left with no other option but to cut him from the team.
Drafted 16th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, Shawn Andrews came out of Arkansas with the expectation that he would hold down a spot on the Eagles offensive line for the next decade. His career started off slow, missing his first year due to injury. Once healthy, Andrews quickly showed why he was drafted so high. He was a mauler, a physically gifted and athletic lineman. When Andrews was in his prime he was the best guard in the NFL, maybe even the best offensive lineman. Unfortunately, his prime didn't last very long. Back injuries shortened a couple of his seasons and his willingness and desire to play football were called into question. In the end, the Eagles were forced to cut Andrews due to the culmination of his off the field issues and inability to get on the field.
Number 5: LeSean McCoy
McCoy has been a joy to watch in his first two years in the NFL.
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The Eagles second round pick (53rd overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft was Pitt RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy came out of Pitt with the reputation as being a "dancer". A back, in the mold of Reggie Bush, who dances in the backfield and waits for a lane to open up. This style typically doesn't translate well to the NFL, which is why he dropped to the second round despite being considered one of the more gifted running backs in the 2009 draft class. In his first two NFL seasons, McCoy has proven that he is more than that, he can run in between the tackles and get the tough yardage. In addition, he is an exceptional receiver out of the backfield.
McCoy put up 637 rushing yards on 155 attempts in his first year in the NFL. On top of that he added 40 receptions for 308 yards. He was even better in 2009, running for 1,080 yards on 207 carries (5.2 YPC) and adding 592 yards on 78 receptions. This is indeed the second coming of Brian Westbrook. If McCoy can sure up his blocking, something Westbrook excelled at, there is no reason to think McCoy can't have a similar, if not better, career than BWest.
Number 4: Trent Cole
Trent Cole has been the Eagles' best DE since they drafted him.
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Drafted in the 5th round (146 overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft, DE Trent Cole wasn't expected to be much of a player. He came out of Cincinnati as an undersized "tweener" type player. Probably better suited as a LB in a 3-4 scheme.
In his first year with the Eagles, Cole registered 5 sacks and 46 tackles. Pretty good considering that the average first round rookie DE records only about 2.5 sacks in their first season. In the following years Cole has stepped up his game even more. Earning a reputation around the league as having a high motor that just doesn't stop. In his 6 seasons with the Eagles, Cole has notched 57 sacks and 377 tackles. He has been the best defensive end on this team since he was drafted, and is expected to continue to be that player next year as well. Imagine what his career could have been like if he had a real threat lining up opposite of him on the left side of the defensive line.
Number 3: DeSean Jackson
Jackson's electric punt return against the Giants capped off a huge come from behind win.
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"Action Jackson" slipped to the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft due to character concerns. He was considered to be boisterous, cocky and immature. His talent and accomplishments at Cal warranted that he be a first round selection. With the 49th overall pick, the Eagles snatched him up. Jackson quieted his critics off the field and made an immediate impact on it. Jackson caught 62 balls for 912 yards and 2 TD's as a rookie. In 3 seasons with the Eagles Jackson has caught 171 balls for 3,124 yards and 17 TD's. He has been the most electric player in the NFL with the ball in his hands. DeSean was responsible for the most memorable play of the 2010 NFL season when he ran a punt back for a TD to cap off a huge comeback win against the Giants late in the season.
Jackson's future with the Eagles is promising, if his contract situation is settled without a hitch. Jackson has it in him to disrupt the team and throw a T.O. like tantrum if he doesn't get his way. The Eagles should look to sign him and keep him here for the long term. He deserves it, he has far exceeded his rookie contract that he signed as a second round pick.
Number 2: Brian Westbrook
Brian Westbrook had a brilliant career with the Eagles.
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Running Back Brian Westbrook was selected in the 3rd round (91st overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. Westbrook didn't get much action in his first season with the Eagles. He only carried the ball 46 times for 193 yards. He was slowly worked into the offense while facing questions about whether he could handle the load of being an every down back. Reid resisted putting too much on his plate because of his size and how he was used in the offense. Over time, Reid gained more confidence in Westbrook. Brian became one of the best, if not best, RB in franchise history. He rushed for almost 6,000 yards and had almost 4,000 receiving yards and 66 total touchdowns in his 8 seasons with the Eagles. For a third round back coming out of a small school in Villanova, that is incredibly impressive.
I just want to add in here that Westbrook is the best blocking RB I have ever seen. He always knew where the blitz was coming from and he blocked his man perfectly. He held his blocks as well. Despite his small stature, he was incredibly strong. This helped him become to blocker he did.
Number 1: Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb had 11 successful seasons with the Eagles.
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With the second overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse. Reid bypassed the more popular pick among the fans, Ricky Williams, and selected McNabb. Reid couldn't have been more right on this one.
McNabb played 11 seasons with the Eagles. His time with the Eagles was filled with controversy. From the T.O. to Rush Limbaugh scandals to the constant questions about his desire and character. McNabb weathered the storms and became the best quarterback this franchise has ever seen. He holds just about every franchise record at the quarterback position. He led the team to 5 NFC championship games and 1 Superbowl appearance. Unfortunately, his legacy will be weighed down by the fact that he couldn't win a Superbowl. Despite that, he still did more for this franchise than anyone else has. He made them a perennial contender, what else can you ask for out of a first round draft pick?