25 Biggest Draft Mistakes in Philadelphia Eagles History

Randy JobstSenior Analyst IOctober 19, 2011

25 Biggest Draft Mistakes in Philadelphia Eagles History

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    In the Eagles long and storied history, they have had some great draft picks. Andy Reid has been known for having great draft after great draft. The Eagles have had themselves several draft steals under Andy Reid including Trent Cole, Moise Fokou, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce, all were drafted in the fourth round or later.

    The Eagles have had themselves some terrible draft mistakes as well, taking players ahead of such future greats as O.J. Simpson, Reggie Wayne and Troy Polamalu. Bad drafts crippled the Eagles in the 60s, early 70s and mid 90s.

    A team that consistently drafts well, consistently competes at the highest level. The Eagles, Steelers, Colts and Patriots are all great examples of that. Other teams like the Buccaneers and the Lions drafting several great young players in the past three seasons have set themselves up as contenders in the NFC despite both teams being very young.

    The Eagles have starters on their team that they originally drafted in the first round. The first round has been a spot that the Eagles have been none for whiffing on badly. 11 of the top 25 worst draft picks in Eagles history were taken in the first round. This season the Eagles took guard Danny Watkins in the first round of last April's draft. Watkins was inactive for the first four games of the season but has started the past two and has shown a lot of promise. Hopefully Watkins can keep his name from becoming synonymous with "bust" and become a starter for years to come.

25. Trevard Lindley

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    Trevard Lindley was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the notion that he would either be Asante Samuel's future replacement or running mate in the secondary in a year or two. That idea was dismissed after just one season in Philadelphia.

    Lindley was cut during the 2011 training camp after he was unable to beat out fellow cornerbacks Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes. Marsh was the Eagles third round pick in the 2011 draft and some believed to be a future starter with Lindley down the road. After the Eagles traded for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signed Nnamdi Asomugha during the offseason, they just ran out of room on the roster for Trevard Lindley.

24. Bryan Smith

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    Bryan Smith was taken in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft as a pass rushing specialist. He lasted just one season in Philadelphia where he failed to get on the field.

    Smith was a standout linebacker at McNeese State where he had 10.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss as a senior in 2007. Smith was your typical "tweener", either too small for defensive end and not agile enough for linebacker. He spend time on the Rams and Jaguars practice squads in 2009 before being released and unsigned in 2010. Smith was one of the failed "tweener" type pass rushers that Andy Reid drafted. 

23. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

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    Daniel Te'o-Nesheim was a "high motor" type pass rusher taken in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His motor wasn't enough to get him on the field for more than just six games in his rookie season where he managed just two tackles and one sack.

    He was released during final cuts in the 2011 season, but was able to stay on as a member of the practice squad. With all the depth the Eagles have at defensive end, it's very unlikely that he gets back on the active roster and will eventually be cut either during the offseason or next year's training camp.

22. Reggie Brown

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    Downtown Reggie Brown was one of many failed Andy Reid draft picks at the wide receiver position until he struck gold with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in the 2008 and 2009 drafts. Brown was taken in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft and never lived up to the expectations.

    He finished his career with 177 receptions for 2,574 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had a couple of decent years early in his career after the Eagles released Terrell Owens and Todd Pinkston. He signed a 6 year, $27 million dollar deal during the 2006 season.

    He never lived up to his new contract and was eventually benched in favor of Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant in the 2008 season. He was released after the 2009 season where he had just nine catches for 155 yards.

21. Matt McCoy

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    Matt McCoy was drafted as a "project" weakside linebacker in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He struggled to get on the field in the 2005 season, was an opening day starter in the 2006 season and was cut during the 2007 season.

    The Eagles loved McCoy's speed and pursuit coming out of San Diego State in 2005, but his lack of size and injury problems lead to him being released in favor of then practice squad member Akeem Jordan.

20. Matt Ware

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    Matt Ware was a defensive back prospect from UCLA the Eagles took in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Ware was a part of Andy Reid's worst draft class with the Eagles. The draft consisted of busts and eventual cuts including offensive tackle Shawn Andrews and fullback Thomas Tapeh and quarterback Andy Hall.

    Ware lasted two short seasons with the Eagles where he never proved to be anything more than an average special teams player.

19. Chris Gocong

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    Chris Gocong was taken as a "tweeer" as a linebacker and defensive end hybrid in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He missed the entire 2006 season due to injury but was able to get healthy and see action on the field in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons as both and outside linebacker and a defensive end.

    He never really became a decent pass rush, picking up just four sacks in three seasons before being traded to the Cleveland Browns along with Sheldon Brown shortly before the 2010 draft for a fourth round and fifth round draft pick, plus linebacker Alex Hall who never made the team.

18. Bobby Hoying

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    Bobby Hoying comes from a long line of unsuccessful Ohio State quarterbacks that include Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith and Joe Germaine. The Eagles drafted Hoying in the third round of the 1996 draft and hoped to develop him into a future starter.

    Hoying got off to a good start in the 1997 season where he started six games and threw 11 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards. He would never throw another touchdown again the rest of his career. Hoying went 0-7 as a starter in the 1998 season which led to head coach Ray Rhodes being replaced by Andy Reid.

    Hoying spent the next three seasons in Oakland where he completed just two passes for a grand total of 10 yards.  

17. Ryan Moats

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    Ryan Moats was taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft as a running back who could help take some of the load Brian Westbrook. He never showed the dual threat ability that he showed in college at Louisiana Tech.

    Moats rushed for a total of just 347 yards and just seven receiving yards in two seasons with the Eagles. For a player who showed a lot of promise as a Brian Westbrook like back coming out of college, Ryan Moats was a huge disappointment.

16. L. J. Smith

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    L.J. Smith wasn't a total bust as a former second round pick from Rutgers, but he was inconsistent always seemed to leave both Eagles coaches and fans wanting more at the tight end position.

    Smith had 698 receiving yards in his first two seasons combined but followed with two straight 600 plus yard seasons before declining in his final two seasons with the Eagles with just 534 receiving yards in both seasons combined.

    Smith showed flashes of greatness but mediocre hands and injuries held him back. He was eventually replaced by Brent Celek.

15. Victor Abiamiri

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    Victor Abiamiri had great ability but was only overmatched by his inability to stay healthy. Abiamiri was taken as a second round pick at defensive end from Notre Dame. He has played in just 29 games now entering his fifth season with the Eagles.

    Abiamiri has four career sacks in six career starts and has shown some flashes of greatness when he has been healthy. He has had several surgeries on both his knee and his Achilles tendon.

    Andy Reid appears to be holding out hope that Abiamiri can get healthy on make on impact on the field, but it this point it seems very unlikely that he will ever play another down as an Eagle or for anyone else in football.

14. Macho Harris

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    Macho Harris wasn't necessarily a bad football player, he just played out of position and way too early in his career to be a success. This draft mistake goes on the Eagles coaching staff.

    Harris was a fifth round selection out of Virginia Tech and was competing for the free safety job that Brian Dawkins had manned since 1996. Harris won the starting job at a position he wasn't quite familiar with while replacing an absolute Eagles legend at the same time. It was a recipe for disaster.

    He made just eight starts before being replaced by Sean Jones at free safety. The Eagles tried to switch Harris back to corner in training camp the next season but Harris failed to impress and was cut in early September after just one full season with the Eagles.

13. Quinton Caver

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    Quinton Caver was the Eagles second round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Caver was a linebacker out of Arkansas. He never made much of an impact despite the high draft pick.

    Caver played in just 16 games in two seasons with the Eagles where he never recorded a sack and made just 11 total tackles before being released during the 2002 seasons.

    Quinton went on to become an exceptional special teams player for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys through the 2005 season. A special teams standout was not what the Eagles had in mind with the 55th overall pick of the 2001 draft. This was just one of several whiffs the Eagles had at linebacker in the draft. Currently the Eagles start two former seventh round draft picks(Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou) and a sixth rounder(Brian Rolle) at linebacker.

12. Barry Gardner

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    The second round has yielded some great special teams linebackers for the Eagles over the years. Both Quinton Caver and Matt McCoy made solid contributions in the NFL at special teams, but Barry Gardner was Andy Reid's first early round linebacker whiff.

    Gardner was the 35th overall pick of the 1999 draft. He started just 18 games in his four seasons with the Eagles. He became a standout on special teams for four different teams but not much else.

    Gardner was selected just one pick ahead of future standout at middle linebacker, Mike Peterson.

11. Shawn Andrews

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    It's hard for some to call Shawn Andrews a bust, with three Pro Bowls to his name, but most fans will tell you that he never seems to be fully committed to football. Andrews was the Eagles first round draft pick of the 2004 NFL Draft.

    During his career with the Eagles Andrews battled through a broken leg, back problems and depression. He left the team in June of 2008 and was a no show to training camp in July for 17 days before finally returning to the team. He eventually was put on injured reserve due to another back injury.

    Had Shawn Andrews been healthy both physically and emotionally throughout his career, he would have been a dominant linemen.

10. Freddie Mitchell

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    Despite being a former first round pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, the only thing big time about "FredEx" was his mouth. During his four year career with the Eagles, Mitchell did more damage then good, especially during the week leading up to Super Bowl XXXIX where he trashed their opponent, the New England Patriots, namely safety Rodney Harrison. Mitchell backed his talk up with just one reception for 11 yards in the Super Bowl.

    His only real accomplishment came during a playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers on a first down catch on a 4th and 26. He finished with a whopping 90 catches for 1,263 yards and five touchdowns in four seasons in Philadelphia.

    Even if Mitchell had been a more humble player, his play wasn't up to the level you would expect from a former first round pick.

9. Leonard Renfro

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    Leonard Renfro was the Eagles first round draft pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. Renfro, a defensive tackle out of Colorado, would last just two seasons in Philadelphia.

    Renfro was taken just two slots before Dana Stubblefield who went on to have a solid career, making three Pro Bowl teams and racking up 53.5 sacks.

    Leonard Renfro was supposed to replace Jerome Brown, who died shortly before the 1992 season. Several NFL personnel and scouts believed that he was not ready for the NFL despite his 10.5 sacks in the 1992 season at Colorado.

8. Jon Harris

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    Jon Harris was the Eagles first round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Harris was a major stretch at the 25th overall pick at defensive end. He would last just three seasons in the NFL for three different teams. He recorded just two sacks in his career for the Eagles in eight starts and 24 total games.

    Harris was selected just three picks before Trevor Pryce who went on to have an exceptional career as a defensive linemen.

7. Jerome McDougle

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    The Eagles appeared to have a gem at defensive end in the 2003 NFL Draft, trading up 15 spots to get him. Unfortunately he struggled to stay healthy during his five years with the Eagles.

    McDougle played in just 33 games in his five years in Philly, making just two sacks. He suffered a torn triceps, irregular heartbeat, fractured ribs and was even shot during a robbery in July of 2005 shortly before training camp.

    This wasn't really an error on judgement from Andy Reid and co. Had McDougle been healthy he might have had a stellar career with the Eagles.

6. Kevin Allen

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    Kevin Allen will go down as one of the worst draft picks of all time. Allen was a offensive tackle out of Indiana taken as the ninth overall pick in 1985. Everything went fine in his rookie season, but it all went down hill from there entering his second season.

    Allen tested positive for cocaine during training camp in 1986 and was later sentenced to three years in prison stemming from a sexual assault charge. He was later banned from the NFL.

5. Kenny Jackson

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    Kenny Jackson was the fourth overall pick of the 1984 NFL Draft. Jackson a wide receiver out of Penn State, was a two time All American who appeared to be a sure thing in the 1984 draft. Jackson had a nice eight year career, seven with the Eagles, never put up the numbers you would expect a top five pick to put up.

    Jackson finished his career in Philly with 122 catches for 2,139 yards and 11 touchdowns.

4. Bernard Williams

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    Like Kevin Allen, Bernard Williams was a former first round pick by the Eagles that lost his NFL career because of drug problems. Williams was a highly rated offensive tackle coming out of Georgia and got off to a great start in his rookie season in 1994, where he started all 16 games.

    Williams would go on to fail 15 drug tests before turning his career around Canadian Football League in the early 2000s.

3. Antone Davis

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    Antone Davis was the eighth overall pick of the 1991 NFL Draft. The Eagles spent two first round picks to move up to draft Davis in the 1991 draft. Davis career wasn't lost due to injuries or drug abuse, he just was never able to live up to the high price the Eagles spent to take Davis.

    He started 74 games in his five years with the Eagles, but showed any signs of greatness. Davis was moved around from tackle to guard after the Eagles drafted another bust at tackle, Bernard Williams. After his rookie deal expired following the 1995 season, Davis signed with the Atlanta Falcons where he played two more seasons before retiring from football.

2. Mike Mamula

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    Mike Mamula is the perfect example of why the NFL Combine is not a sure fire way to judge rookie prospects. Mamula was easily the most impressive player at the combine in 1995, scoring a 49 out of 50 in the Wonderlic, running a 4.58 in the 40 yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds 26 times.

    Mamula was a defensive end out of Boston College who put up decent numbers in his career with the Eagles, but not the number you would want for a player you traded a first round pick and two second round picks to acquire. He finished his Eagles career with 31.5 sacks in six seasons in Philly.

1. LeRoy Keyes

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    The 1969 NFL Draft was supposed to turn around the Eagles current playoff dry spell. The previous season saw the Eagles start out 0-11 and appeared to be on their way to drafting college footabll's top player, future Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson. Instead the Eagles won two meaningless games late in the season, thus losing out on drafting Simpson. Instead they took running back/safety Leroy Keyes with the third overall pick.

    Keyes finished with 369 rushing yards before being moved exclusively at safety while Simpson finished as one of the greatest running backs of all time, racking up over 11,000 rushing yards in his 11 year career.

    It would be eight more seasons before the Eagles would return to the playoffs under head coach Dick Vermeil.