Andy Reid was hired on January 11th, 1999. He took over a team that needed a complete overhaul. The Eagles finished the 1998 season at 3-13 and one of the worst teams in the NFL. Andy Reid may not always be loved in Philadelphia, but he is a great coach that helped rebuiled a franchise and brought on one of the most successful eras in Eagles history. Reid and the Eagles believe in building their roster through the draft and for the most part have been pretty successful with that ideal. Below are my top 12 draft picks of the current 12 year Andy Reid era of Eagles football.
12. AJ Feely, 5th Round, Pick #155, 2001
I know the very first question out of your mouth is “AJ Feely? This joker can’t be serious!” Hear me out first and see why he’s on the list. AJ Feely was the starting QB at the University of Oregon before losing his position due to injury. The Eagles took a chance on a QB they knew would be a project and turned him into a hot commodity. Feely was traded to Miami in 2004 for a second round pick. With that pick the Eagles took Reggie Brown; they dropped the ball on the pick, but they still developed a 5th round pick into a 2nd round value and that is why AJ Feely is on this list.
11. Stewart Bradley, 3rd Round, Pick #87, 2007.
Stewart Bradley has had his injury issues and there is a phantom report out there that he was once rated the worst linebacker in the NFL. The truth is he is a very good middle linebacker and the vocal leader of the defense when he is healthy. He has started 28 games over the last two seasons with a combined 168 tackles, 2 sacks and 12 pass defenses. If he can stay healthy he will be one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL.
10. Todd Herremans, 4th Round, Pick #126, 2005.
Herremans has become a staple of the Eagles offensive line. He can play both the tackle and guard positions and has been used at both. He became a full time starter in 2006 and has never relinquished his starting spot. Herremans is a solid piece of a unit that can sometimes be questionable when protecting the quarterback.
9. Sheldon Brown, 2nd Round, Pick #59, 2002.
Sheldon Brown came in and started right away. Brown and Lito Sheppard gave the Eagles one of the best defensive back fields in the NFL. He ended his stint with the Eagles compiling 431 tackles, 7 sacks and 19 interceptions in 8 seasons.
8. Jason Avant, 4th Round, Pick # 109, 2006.
Avant has turned into the Eagles third wide receiver and a reliable third down option. In five seasons with the Eagles Avant has 154 catches for 1,872 yards and 9 touchdowns. He’s not flashy, but he has great hands and gets the job done.
7. Brent Celek, 5th Round, Pick #162, 2007.
Celek took over for LJ Smith in 2008 and has established himself as one of the leaders of the offense and the team. His best season so far was in 2009 where he had 76 catches for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns. His numbers took a step back last season, mostly due to the talent on the team at wide receiver. He should be the Eagles tight end for years to come.
6. Lito Sheppard, 1st Round, Pick #26, 2002.
Lito Sheppard was a boarder line shutdown corner for the Eagles for 7 years. His main issue was an inability to stay healthy. His greatest asset was his ability to be in the right place at the right time. He finished his Eagles career with 253 tackles, 2 sacks and 18 interceptions.
5. Jeremy Maclin, 1st Round, Pick #19, 2009.
Maclin is young, only playing two years so far in the NFL, but he is on this list and in the top five because of his production so far and potential for great things in the future. In a short career so far Maclin has 126 catches for 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns. He really established himself as a go to guy last season catching 70 balls for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns.
4. Trent Cole, 5th Round, Pick # 146, 2005.
Trent Cole may be one of the best defensive picks in Eagles history overall. The Eagles have tried to bookend Cole for a number of years now with picks such as Victor Abiamiri and Brandon Graham with no success. Even without that help on the other side, Cole has become the leader of the defense and put up some great numbers. So far he has totaled 287 tackles, 57 sacks and 11 forced fumbles in 6 seasons, 5 as a starter.
3. Brian Westbrook, 3rd Round, Pick #91, 2002.
Westbrook was a surprise pick in the 3rd round out of Villanova. He quickly established himself as a homerun threat every time he touched the ball and would sometimes show flashes of Barry Sanders when making cuts. He played 8 years for the Eagles totaling 1,385 carries for 6,335 yards and 41 touchdowns. Westbrook was a vital part of the Eagles success in their championship game runs and lone super bowl appearance under Andy Reid.
2. DeSean Jackson, 2nd Round, Pick #49, 2008.
Jackson was considered undersized and too small to play wide receiver in the NFL and he has since proved his naysayers wrong. He is one of the most electrifying and exciting players in the NFL today. His speed is not only his strong suit at wide receiver, but it is an invaluable asset in returning punts (just ask the NY Giants). In three seasons with the Eagles Jackson has 171 receptions for 3,124 yards (18.3 average) and 17 touchdowns. He has also returned 99 punts for 1,112 yards (11.2 average) and 4 touchdowns. Jackson is the most prolific player the Eagles have had under Andy Reid.
1. Donovan McNabb, 1st Round, Pick #2, 1999.
Donovan McNabb was Andy Reid’s first ever draft pick. The Eagles desperatly needed a quarterback to build a franchise around and McNabb was Reid’s guy. McNabb got off to a rocky start with the Eagles, being booed on draft bacause the Birds passed up running back Ricky Williams, I would say that the Eagles got the better end of that deal. McNabb became the face of the frachise for the next 11 years. He left the Eagles with 32,873 yards passing and 216 touchdowns to only 100 interceptions. Under Reid and McNabb the Eagles made 6 NFC Championship games and one super bowl, possibly the best decade of Eagles football ever. The only thing that will remain as a dark spot on this era will be the fact that the Eagles never acheived the ultimate goal of bringing a trophy to Philadelphia.
Andy Reid will again get his chance to select greatness starting on Thursday night in New York. Hopefully the Eagles get right one more time as they continue to move in the right direction.