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Best and worst of Andy Reid's drafts

jared sherman csnphilly

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:13 PM

Sherman

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Best and worst of Andy Reid's drafts

January 2, 2013, 11:00 am

JARED SHERMAN
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With Andy Reid's 14-year run as Eagles head coach over, we take a look back at how he handled the draft. Reid had the final say on draft picks for the majority of his run in Philadelphia, and he's been widely panned by fans for botching early picks, never finding that dominant linebacker, and overemphasizing the offensive and defensive lines.

Yes, he's blown some first- and second-round picks, but that's really no different than any other personnel department in the NFL. The draft is an inexact science, and you can measure and evaluate only so much. Reid had his swings and misses over 14 drafts, but he's also hit some out of the park.

Here's a breakdown of his 14 seasons:

• Reid has selected 125 players over his 14 drafts.

• Reid has had 12 first-round, 19 second-round, 13 third-round, 23 fourth-round, 18 fifth -round, 21 sixth-round, and 19 seventh-round picks.

• Reid selected five players from California, more than any other school (four each from Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, and USC).

• Fourteen players each were selected from the SEC, Pac-10, and Big 10 in Reid's 14 seasons.

• Reid drafted 16 linebackers during his tenure, but not one was ever named to a Pro Bowl.

• The QB guru selected six QB in his 14 years. Donovan McNabb had a 98-62-1 career record, while the rest (A.J. Feeley, Andy Hall, Kevin Kolb, Mike Kafka, and Nick Foles) have a combined 18-27 mark.

• His 2002 draft (Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, Sheldon Brown, Brian Westbrook, Raheem Brock) is by far his best.

• Reid's 2001 (Freddie Mitchell and Quinton Caver) and 2003 (Jerome McDougle and L.J. Smith) drafts crippled the Eagles during a period where even solid drafts probably win them a Super Bowl.

• The 2010 draft (Brandon Graham and Nate Allen) was supposed to fill the roster for an Eagles resurgence. Instead, of the 13 picks, only Graham looks like a real contributor going forward.

• The 2011 draft (Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh) may haunt this team well into the next coach's tenure.

• Owner Jeffrey Lurie said the 2012 draft (Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks) is the first one he holds Howie Roseman "completely accountable for," (see story) so Eagles fans might have some hope.

Reid's best picks by round

First - Donovan McNabb, QB, 1999, 2nd-overall
While a local radio station made the rest of the country forever think Philadelphia wanted Ricky Williams instead, Reid nailed it with McNabb, who went on to become the greatest QB in franchise history.

Second - Sheldon Brown, CB, 2002, 59th-overall
An under-the-radar pick, Brown gets the nod over LeSean McCoy. Despite selecting Lito Sheppard in the first round, Reid continued to rebuild his secondary with safety Michael Lewis and Brown late in the second round, knowing Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent's days were numbered. Brown became arguably the best CB of the 2002 class, and if not for a penchant for dropping interceptions, may have been a more widely known name in the NFL.

Third - Brian Westbrook, RB, 2002, 91st-overall
The diminutive Villanova Wildcat was the eighth RB taken in the 2002 draft, behind greats like DeShaun Foster, Lamar Gordon, and Ladell Betts. Westbrook made an impact as a punt returner while waiting patiently behind Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter. Once he became the focus of the offense, the Eagles soared.

Fourth - Todd Herremans, OL, 2005, 126th-overall
Herremans, a left tackle at Saginaw Valley State, was a bit of an unknown when he was selected, but started four games as a rookie in place of Tra Thomas, and held his own. From there, Herremans has become a mainstay on the Eagles' offensive line, playing primarily at left guard, and then kicking out to right tackle in 2011. He's played both positions at a Pro Bowl level. Can't ask much more from a Division-II fourth-rounder.

Fifth - Trent Cole, DE, 2005, 146th-overall
Cole was a smallish pass rusher from Cincinnati that many didn't think could play defensive end in the NFL. By the end of his rookie season, Cole had surpassed N.D. Kalu on the depth chart, and started seven games. He's gone on to rack up 71 sacks, and has played the run as well as any end in Philadelphia has in the past decade.

Sixth - Jason Kelce, C, 2011, 191st-overall
Despite his season-ending injury in 2012, Kelce has already established himself as the perhaps the best center Reid has had in his long tenure with the team. Small by NFL standards, Kelce's quickness and smarts had him on the road to a Pro Bowl before a knee injury derailed his season. He should be a mainstay on the line for years to come.

Seventh - Raheem Brock, DT, 2002, 238th-overall
The last pick in Reid's tremendous 2002 draft class, Brock, a Temple product, never signed with the Eagles because they ran out of money to sign him to a market-value signing bonus. Released before training camp, Brock signed with the Indianapolis Colts and became a fixture at defensive tackle, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2006. He went on to record 40.5 sacks in a 10-year career. Luckily, the Eagles managed to get 2002 sixth-rounder Tyreo Harrison locked up instead.

Top 5 best picks
In reviewing Reid's draft history, it's easy to look at who the Eagles chose and simply evaluate that player. But to truly look at Reid's draft record one has to take a look at what his team's needs were at the time and who else was available when he picked. In doing so, it becomes easier to defend some of his better known gaffes in the early rounds. With that said, Reid still had a pretty poor record of finding quality talent early in drafts, and most of his big hits were in the second and third rounds.

1. McNabb, QB, 1999, First Round (2nd overall)
This pick was of course questioned by some in Philadelphia, but was the defining pick of the Reid era. Among a slew of first round QB prospects, McNabb was by far the best, and Reid didn't get suckered into the taking any of the pretenders (Akili Smith, Cade McNown, Duante Culpepper). We're now seeing how valuable McNabb was to Reid and this franchise.

2. Brian Westbrook, RB, 2002, Third Round (91)
Whenever you get a franchise back in the third round, you've made a wise selection. Viewed as too small coming out of Villanova, Reid figured out how to make him arguably the NFL's most dangerous player for a time.

3. Trent Cole, DE, 2005, Fifth Round (145)
With such a premium on rushing the QB, getting a legitimate double-digit sack man this late counts for something. Cole was the first DE Reid selected after his disastrous Jerome McDougle and Jamaal Green picks in the 2003 draft.

4. LeSean McCoy, 2009, Second Round (53)
With Westbrook's injuries catching up to him, Reid knew he needed to find his eventual replacement soon. Reid avoided reaching for Donald Brown and Beanie Wells and was patient, landing Shady late in the second round.

5. Sheldon Brown, CB, 2002, Second Round (59)
Reid found a cornerstone CB late in the second round in Brown, who, while not as physically talented as his fellow 2002 classmate Lito Sheppard, was the more consistent and physical presence during his time in Philly.

Five others that should be commended:

1. Todd Herremans, OL, 2005, Fourth Round (126) - Small school lineman who has been solid as a rock since his rookie season.

2. DeSean Jackson, WR, 2008, Second Round (49) - Thought to be trouble coming out of Cal, Reid waited patiently and got him after six other WRs were taken.

3. Raheem Brock, DT, 2002, Seventh Round (238) - See above. Big-time contributor throughout his NFL career.

4. Mike Patterson, DT, 2005, First Round (31) - Solid pick late in the first round at a position of need. No other defensive tackles better at that point of the draft.

5. Shawn Andrews, OL, 2004, First Round (16) - Say what you will about the "Big Kid," when healthy Andrews was the NFL's dominant offensive guard.

Top 10 worst picks
Reid has been criticized, and rightly so, for botching too many high picks. Looking back, you can see what he was trying for with some of these disasters, but it's still too hard to ignore the high percentage of misses and the talent he passed on for a lot of these selections. His inability to consistently hit early in drafts has left the Eagles dangerously thin and without many building blocks at key positions.

We're going with a Top 10, because Reid's misses far outweigh his hits.

1. Freddie Mitchell, WR, 2001, First Round (25)
Let's first ignore the fact that Freddie just wasn't fast enough to be a legit No. 1 receiver. We can stomach cockiness in a No. 1 guy if he has the talent to back it up, but outside of 4th-and-26, Mitchell -- and his mouth -- was a mess. This is made even worse by Reid's passing on Reggie Wayne (30) and Chad Johnson (36). Shoot, even Quincy Morgan at 33 would have been a step up. Reid's inability to find McNabb a top pass-catcher eventually led to him selling his soul in acquiring Terrell Owens.

2. Jerome McDougle, DE, 2003, First Round (15)
Reid, looking to bolster a spotty pass rush after Hugh Douglas left for Jacksonville, traded up from 30 to 15 to select McDougle, a pass rushing terror at Miami. Unfortunately, McDougle suffered injuries in 2003 that caused him to miss eight games, was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and sprained his ankle in 2004, and was shot before training camp in 2005, forcing him to miss that entire season. Even when he was on the field, McDougle is best known for grabbing Bruce Gradkowski's facemask against Tampa Bay in 2006, setting up a game-winning 62-yard field goal. Injuries are of course part of the NFL, but the two picks the Eagles gave up (No. 30 and No. 62) to acquire him could have been turned into solid pros like Eric Steinbach (John Welbourn was still a starter at OG) and linebacker Lance Briggs.

3. Quinton Caver, LB, 2001, Second Round (55)
To make the 2001 draft even worse, Reid selected "The Range Rover" in an attempt to replace Barry Gardner (see below). Sadly, Caver had little heart or acumen for the game, and was released a year later. His most memorable play as an Eagle was his inability to fall on a fumbled kick-off against the Rams in the 2001 season opener.

4. Matt McCoy, LB, 2005, Second Round (63)
Once again, Reid tried to bolster his LB corps in the second round. And once again, he failed. McCoy was small, unathletic, and out of control. More likely to earn a late-hit penalty than a tackle. He never caught on as a starter (10 games in 2006) and was never a standout on special teams. McCoy was released in 2006 to make room for JMU practice squad player Akeem Jordan. To make matters worse, solid LBs like Channing Crowder (70) and Kirk Morrison (78) were selected shortly after McCoy.

5. Barry Gardner, LB, 1999, Second Round (35)
Reid had a lot of holes to fill during the 1999 draft, and we're not completely sure how much input he had on this pick since Tom Modrak was still the GM at the time. But if we have to give Reid credit for McNabb, we have to give him grief for Gardner. The Northwestern MLB couldn't unseat Jeremiah Trotter (who wasn't well-thought of at the time) and ended up starting outside in 2000. He was just a bench player and special teamer after that, signing with the Browns in 2003. The Eagles passed on LB Mike Peterson (36), OT Jon Jansen (37), and DE Mike Rucker (38) to draft Gardner.

6. L.J. Smith, TE, 2003, Second Round (61)
That year I mocked Jason Witten to the Eagles in the first round. He ended up lasting until the third, but the Eagles wanted the athletic Smith, ignoring the fact he had terrible hands.

7. Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, 2011, Second Round (54)
Desperate for secondary help, the Eagles reached for Jarrett, a slow-footed, big-hitting safety from Temple. Jarrett made no impact on defense as a rookie, unable to beat out 2010 seventh-round pick Kurt Coleman. Worse, he was awful on special teams as well. Cut before the 2012 season.

8. Danny Watkins, OG, 2011, First Round (23)
I honestly loved the pick when it was made. Watkins was a beast at Baylor playing left tackle, and while he was older, was still learning. Just not sure if the NFL speed and his relative inexperience caught up to him, or if the Howard Mudd system is all wrong, but when your first-round pick can't get on the field despite four-fifths of the line being hurt, there's been a mistake. I don't fault Reid for trying to sure up the offensive line, and there wasn't a lot of better options at No. 23, but players like DE Muhammad Wilkerson, QB Andy Dalton (fault Reid for not seeing Michael Vick for who he really was), and LB Akeem Ayers were all still there. Unless Watkins can rebound with another line coach in 2013, the Birds will be trying to sure up an even leakier line going forward.

9. Nate Allen, S, 2010, Second Round (37)
This was a killer, as the Eagles used the pick they got from the Redskins in the McNabb trade to select a position of need. Unfortunately, Allen didn't pack his play-making ability when he jumped from South Florida. Instead he brought with him a step slow and an apparent aversion to hitting people. Cleveland took Oregon safety T.J. Ward with the next pick, and he has blossomed into a promising player for the Browns.

10. Winston Justice, OT, 2006, Second Round (39)
At the time I was ecstatic about this selection. The Eagles needed to start thinking about replacing Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, and Justice had first-round talent. Then came the Giants game, where Justice got treated like a NYC subway turnstile. And while serviceable until his trade to the Colts in 2012, Reid passed on tackles Marcus McNeill (50) and Andrew Whitworth (55) in that round. Both were and still are much better pros.

Jared Sherman has been providing CSNPhilly.com with draft analysis since 2000. E-mail him at feedback@firedforwinning.com and follow him on Twitter @Phillyjared