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February 25, 2019

Ranking the Eagles' worst 20 draft picks over the last 20 years

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles have had mixed success in the NFL Draft, but have had some pretty awful selections sprinkled in over the last two decades. Today we'll look at their 20 worst picks over the last two decades.

1) 2011: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor, 1st round: There have been worse players than Watkins over the last 20 years, but this was just such a dumb pick. Watkins was already 26 years old when the Eagles drafted him (he turned 27 during his rookie season) on a team at the time that was legendary for letting players walk once they got into their 30's. He was also transitioning from tackle to guard, a position he had never played.

As it turned out, Watkins was little more than a con man, who enjoyed cashing pay checks from the Eagles, but had little interest in being a football player, instead preferring to be a firefighter. Watkins played in just 26 ineffective games over his career, starting 18.

He is now 34!

2) 2014: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville, 1st round: In fairness, the Eagles didn't really want Smith. They just sort of settled on him after the last of their six primary targets -- Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham, Kyle Fuller, C.J. Mosley, Brandin Cooks, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- all went off the board before they were set to pick in the first round of the 2014 draft. Instead, the Eagles traded back four spots from 22 to 26, and took Smith, whose career in Philly was horrendous.

Smith appeared in eight games as a rookie, and had no stats whatsoever. No tackles, no batted passes, no penalties. Nothing. He didn't register his first tackle until Week 5 of his second season in the league, memorialized here:

During the 2017 offseason, after three awful seasons with the team, Smith hilariously skipped OTAs. He was released by the team soon after.

3) 2003: Jerome McDougle, DE, Miami, 1st round (traded up): McDougle got shot during the 2005 offseason, which led to the following hilarious Andy Reid press conference (in hindsight), as he went injury-by-injury, in alphabetical order, noting that McDougle got shot, as if it were like any other injury (full transcript here):

"Dirk Johnson had a sports hernia and had surgery on that. We expect him back no sooner than the first game. Jerome McDougle last night was shot in the abdominal region. Our doctors are in the process of talking to the doctors that worked on Jerome, and we'll have more information for you later on that. He is in stable condition and seems to be doing well. J.R. Reed is making progress with the nerve in his foot..."


Anyway, many forgive McDougle's career on the fact that he had been shot, but he still contributed next to nothing in the two years preceding that incident, other than this bone-crushing shot on Eli Manning:

McDougle finished his career with 37 tackles and 3 sacks.

4) 2011: Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple, 2nd round: The process of this pick, and really just the entire God-awful 2011 draft, is what made this selection so bad, less than the actual player. Jarrett wasn't good, of course, but the Eagles drafted solely for need in 2011, taking Watkins way earlier than he should have gone, and then severely over-drafting Jarrett as well. While the 2003 draft still serves as how a draft should be run (taking the best players available), the 2011 draft serves as the exact opposite.

In two seasons with the Eagles, Jarrett played in 13 games, and was released after the first game of his second season. Brutal. He had 17 tackles, and no other stats.

5) 2001: Quinton Caver, LB, Arkansas, 2nd round: Like Jarrett above, Caver was a second-round bust who was released during his second season with the team. He finished his Eagles career with 15 games played, 12 tackles, and no other stats.

6) 2011: Alex Henery, K, Nebraska, 4th round: Never take kickers this early. They're simply never worth it. Henery was a legend at Nebraska, but he had a noodle leg by NFL standards, and was rattled pretty quickly after a poor start to his career.

Also, fun fact: Henery was the subject of the first animated stick figure I ever attempted, after Cody Parkey beat him out in training camp. It was a beaut: 

072417AlexHenery /for PhillyVoice

7) 2007: Victor Abiamiri, DE, Notre Dame, 2nd round: 3 season, 30 tackles, 4 sacks. He was basically a second-round version of Marcus Smith.

8) 2006: Jeremy Bloom, WR/RS, Colorado, 5th round: The Eagles took the best skier in the history of the NFL Draft. Probably. Unfortunately, he was never good enough at football to actually appear in a game in the NFL.

9) 2008: Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin, 4th round: Ikegwuonu was thought of as a "first-round talent" who fell because of a torn ACL and legal issues. The Eagles got cute and took him with 2009 and beyond in mind, but Ikegwuonu appeared in one game (no stats), and is now in jail.

10) 2007: Tony Hunt, RB, Penn State, 3rd round: 14 career rushing attempts, 25 yards. Like Jarrett and Caver above, Hunt was released during his second season with the team.

11) 2008: Bryan Smith, DE, McNeese State, 3rd round: Smith was a third-round developmental pick. It's probably just good practice not to take developmental players in the first three rounds, unless they really, really have a chance at being elite. Anyway, Smith didn't develop, and didn't even make the team in his second season with the Eagles.

12) 2011: Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State, 3rd round: Marsh was a developmental pick. He, like Smith, didn't develop. I remember when the Eagles and Patriots had joint practices before the 2014 season, and Tom Brady attacked Marsh unmercifully both during practice and in the ensuing preseason game. It was one of the rare times I actually felt bad for a player. Well, not so much that I did this during the preseason game:

13) 2017: Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State, 4th round: In four years at SDSU, Pumphrey racked up a ridiculous 7444 yards from scrimmage, making him one of the most productive running backs in NCAA history. However, at 5'8, 176 pounds, he had an extremely slight build, and not enough juice athletically to make up for that deficiency.

The selection of Pumphrey is further tainted by the fact that the 2017 NFL Draft was looooaaaaded with quality running backs. Even with the Eagles' barren backfield, Pumphrey has not yet appeared in a regular season game for the Eagles, and likely never will.

14) 2013: Matt Barkley, QB, USC, 4th round: Barkley was a high-profile player for four years at USC, and another four years before that at high school powerhouse Mater Dei. But after shoulder issues in college, Barkley never had the same arm strength again, which was obvious to anyone watching him in practice every day. It should have been equally obvious to anyone who worked him out prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.

Barkley did not handle arm strength criticism well, and his tenure with the Eagles ended after four regular season game appearances and a 43.7 QB rating. He was traded to the Cardinals for a seventh-round pick.

BarksGifJimmy/for PhillyVoice

Barkley is still in the league, on his seventh stop in the NFL as a marginal 53-man roster-worthy player.

15) 2003: Billy McMullen, WR, Virginia, 3rd round: At 6'4, 215, McMullen was big. That's about it. In three seasons with the Eagles, McMullen had 22 catches and 1 TD. He was traded to the Vikings for undrafted rookie Hank Baskett.

16) 2001: Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA, 1st round: FredEx will always have 4th and 26, but he was all talk, no action otherwise. It doesn't help that 7 of the 11 players taken after Freddie went to at least one Pro Bowl, including Reggie Wayne, who is Hall of Fame-worthy.

17) 2001: Gari Scott, WR, Michigan State, 4th round: Don't remember Gari Scott? That's because he was overshadowed by Freddie Mitchell in the 2001 draft, so his unproductive career (two career catches) went largely unnoticed. While only a fourth-round pick, Scott was still a top-100 pick.

18) 2008: Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame, 2nd round: Laws was a second-round pick, but he was the Eagles' first pick in the 2008 draft, ahead of DeSean Jackson. Laws actually did have one OK season (20 tackles, 4 sacks, a pick, and five batted passes), but the other three were a whole lot of nothingness.

Laws' best contribution to the Eagles, like McDougal above, is that he too once laid out Eli:

OK, so maybe he didn't crush Eli like McDougle did, but he did draw anger from Giants fans accusing him of a cheap shot, so that was fun.

19) 2005: Matt McCoy, LB, San Diego State, second round: McCoy had a cool Brian Dawkins-style helmet, but he was a glorified special teamer who was over-drafted. To McCoy's credit, he did stick in the league for seven seasons, but he lasted for just over two with the Eagles, as he was cut during the 2007 season after a game in which he flagged for a dumb personal foul penalty on a punter.

20) 2014: Josh Huff, WR, Oregon, 3rd round: The Eagles were adamant that they didn't draft Huff because he went to Oregon, but, please. Huff was a decent enough kick returner, but he struggled to fit in as a receiver in the NFL. In 2016, the team cut him after he was arrested on the Walt Whitman bridge for being in possession of weed and hollow-point bullets.

111016JoshHuffJimmy Kempski/for PhillyVoice

Huff is now playing in the Alliance of American Football league.

We'll have the Eagles' 20 best picks of the last 20 years on Tuesday.

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