With all of the free agent acquisitions the Eagles have made this offseason, every Eagles fan is highly anticipating the beginning of another season in hopes of obtaining their first Super Bowl title. Had the Eagles done a better job in the draft room, they may have a Super Bowl or two already and not need to spend so much money in free agency.
Granted, the NFL draft isn't an exact science, but it is always interesting to look back and wonder how the franchise would have done if the Philadelphia Eagles had made the right decisions on draft day. Now, there are a few rules to this list: The first is that the draft pick must have been within the past 25 years (so from 1986 to present day). Second, the Eagles must have drafted a player of the same position over the player who they passed on (so drafting Jermane Mayberry over Ray Lewis wouldn't make the list since they didn't play the same position).
Here is my list of the top 10 (along with three honorable mentions) worst draft oversights by the Eagles in the past 25 years.
Erik Williams played for Bartram high school in Philadelphia and had the size to be a successful tackle. The Eagles even had the need for a tackle in '91. Yet, they went with Antone Davis with their first-round pick and didn't even take a second look at Erik in round two.
In the third round, the Cowboys snatched up the Central State standout. All he did was protect Troy Aikman and help Emmit Smith to Hall of Fame careers, along with going to four Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls. Oh, and he is also one of the few tackles to do a great job against Reggie White during his 11 year career.
Meanwhile, Antone Davis only started 74 games for the birds before leaving town to go to Atlanta and by the end of the '97 season he was out of the league.
When you ask Eagles fans about Winston Justice, they think about him giving up six sacks to Osi Umenyiora (who the Eagles could have also drafted, but we'll get to that later). Although he has played solid over the past year or so, it's not even close to Pro Bowl caliber play.
Meanwhile, Marcus McNeill helped Ladainian Tomlinson gain 1,815 yards in his rookie year and has been a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Could you imagine having him on one end and Jason Peters on the other? I'm sure Mike Vick would be able to sleep a little easier.
The above picture is from one of only 24 games that James Darling started for the Eagles.
When they drafted him, Dexter Coakley, Betrand Berry and Mike Vrabel were still on the board. How different could the Eagles defense have been? James Darling only had 2.5 sacks for the Eagles while Bertrand Berry has 65 sacks in his career. Dexter Coakley made the Pro Bowl three times and Mike Vrabel has won three Super Bowls (including one against the Eagles) made the Sports Illustrated all decade team for the 00's and has 11 interceptions.
Yet, it's not the worst linebacker goof the Eagles have made in the draft room.
Let's look at Jerome McDougle's stats: 37 tackles and 3 sacks in 6 seasons.
Meanwhile, Robert Mathis has been to three Pro Bowls, won one Super Bowl, has 74 sacks and 36 forced fumbles. And Osi—he has been to two Pro Bowls, won one Super Bowl, has the NFL record for most forced fumbles in a season with 10, along with 58 sacks, while also holding the record for most sacks in a game with 6. (Which he can thank Winston Justice for). If either of these guys were lining up along side Trent Cole it would give quarterbacks nightmares against the Eagles.
Andy Reid has been pretty good in the war room, but until DeShawn Jackson showed up, Andy was horrible with selecting wide receivers. To Avant's credit, he hasn't be bad. He has 154 catches, 1,872 yards and 9 touchdowns. But compared to Brandon Marshall's 413 catches, 5,033 yards and 28 touchdowns, it looks like a big mistake. Not to mention the Eagles are still looking for that big red zone receiver, maybe a 6'4' 230 lbs receiver?
Brandon was there for the taking, but the Eagles passed.
Some people may argue that this should be higher up on the list, but regardless, there is no argument that this pick is one of the worst the Eagles have made. Coming out of Georgia, Bernard looked like he would be a good pick and started all 16 games his rookie year. But then he was banned by the NFL for failing 15 drug tests. Yes, 15.
He actually played more for the CFL then he did for the NFL. Meanwhile, Todd Steussie is a two-time Pro Bowler who played in one Super Bowl and has started 185 games.
Could you imagine if Joey Porter was on the field in 2003 instead of Barry Gardner against the Bucs? Hate to bring back that memory but it's just a thought. Barry only played four seasons for the Birds and only had 18 starts. He also hasn't played since 2006. Meanwhile, Joey Porter has been a force on the field, being named to four Pro Bowls, an NFL all decade team and won a Super Bowl. He also has 97 sacks and 12 interceptions and is still in the league.
At first glance, LJ didn't seem like that bad of a pick, but consider this: He had 18 touchdowns and 231 receptions during his time with the Eagles and is now out of the league. Jason Witten, on the other hand, had 429 receptions during the same time span and has added 188 more since then. He also is a seven time Pro Bowler and has fun destroying the Eagles on Sunday.
This is one of those picks that cost coaches their jobs, and Jon Harris is one of the people Ray Rhodes has to blame for only lasting three years in Philly. But when the pick was made people questioned it. It actually made many worst No.1 draft pick lists. Jon only had two sacks in two season with the Eagles and was one of the first cuts Andy Reid made when he got here.
Meanwhile, Trevor Pryce is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and has won two Super Bowls. He also has 91 sacks and is still in the league.
Could you imagine John Lynch and Brain Dawkins in the same secondary? That would have been truly amazing.
Instead, the Eagles drafted both Derrick Frazier and Mike Reid over Lynch. Frazier and Reid combined had six seasons of play, 31 games and only one interception. Lynch went to nine Pro Bowls, won one Super Bowl, had 26 interceptions and 490 tackles since 2001. He also forced 10 fumbles too.
Here's another guy the Eagles could have had in their secondary who helped stop them in an NFC championship game. Williams went to eight Pro Bowls, had 55 interceptions, was a member of the 1990's all decade team and was in one Super Bowl. Jesse Campbell, on the other hand, never even played a single game for the Eagles.
This is a killer. All three of the names listed that went after Mitchell might make the Hall of Fame one day. Let's look at Mitchell's stats: 5 seasons, 90 catches, 1,263 yards and 5 touchdowns. Reggie Wayne had 104 catches for 1,570 yards and 10 touchdowns just in 2007!
Steve Smith had 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2005. And Chad Ochocinco—he has at least 90 catches in four different seasons. The Eagles would love to have a receiver with 775 catches, like Wayne, or 52 touchdowns, like Smith, or 10,783 yards, like Ochocinco.
Instead, all we have is memories of 4th and 26.
See that smiling face? He is smiling because of all the times he laid a heavy hit on Donovan McNabb.
This is arguably one of the worst draft oversights ever by the Eagles, and not just in the last 25 years. Let's look at Mike Mamula's career. He had 31.5 sacks, 1 interception, and is more known for his charge for indecent exposure in July of '97 than for his playing career in Philly. (The charges were dropped, but that's a footnote).
Sapp on the other hand is a seven-time Pro Bowler, made two all decade teams, was the 1999 defensive player of the year, has 96.5 sacks and four interceptions. Oh, and that one Super Bowl win Eagles fans remember all too well.
One more thing about the Mike Mamula pick; the Eagles traded their first and second round picks to get Mamula. The Bucs used the first-round pick to get Sapp and used the second-round pick to get Derrick Brooks. That's right Eagles fans, the Birds had a chance to have Sapp, Brooks, and Lynch all in midnight green.
A Super Bowl win this year will make all of the pain go away, but for now, this hurts pretty bad.