The Philadelphia Eagles have a long history of picking players earlier then they were projected to go. Last season with safety Earl Thomas still on the board, every Eagles fan thought for sure he would be an Eagle when they traded up to 13; instead they chose Brandon Graham an undersized defensive end that was a projected late first round to early second round pick. I am not saying Brandon Graham is a bust, it’s too early to tell, but the Eagles didn’t have to trade up in the first round to get him. Below is a list of players that in my opinion are the biggest first round busts in Eagles history.
5. Antone Davis:
With the 8th overall pick in the 1991 draft the eagles thought they had finally found the offensive tackle they had long coveted. Buddy Ryan always said he was an offensive tackle away from going to the super bowl. Antone Davis at 6-4, 330 pounds was the ideal size for the position and he had all of the physical abilities, the mental side of the game is what killed him. Davis only played 5 years for the Eagles and never lived up to his promise. He was one of the most penalized tackles in Eagles history and never grasped the position like he did an opposing defensive ends jersey.
4. Jerome McDougle:
McDoulge was selected 15th overall in the 2003 draft. McDougle’s career can be summed up by injury, bad luck and a lack of ability. In his rookie year he only played in 8 games totaling 5 tackles and 4 assists, with no sacks. Defensive ends are graded on one thing only, their ability to get to the quarterback and sack him. Getting sacks seemed to be a big hurdle for McDougle; he finished his short five year career with only 3 of them. A lot of that had to do with injury, caused on the field and off; McDougle was shot in his car in 2005 and missed the entire season as a result. He returned in 2006 and appeared in 14 games totaling 11 tackles and 1 sack. That was his final year as an Eagle, ending a very disappointing 4 seasons.
3. Freddie Mitchell:
“Fredex” was selected by the Eagles with the 25th pick in the 2001 draft. Mitchell did more talking then producing in his career. In his rookie year he totaled 21 catches for 283 yards and 1 touchdown, and then reverted in his second season with only 12 catches for 105 yards and 0 touchdowns. With the lack of talent at the wide receiver position on the Eagles roster during the Freddie Mitchell years, it says a lot about his lack of ability that he was unable to crack the starting lineup. He will be remembered most for his 4th and 26 grab in the divisional round of the playoffs against Green Bay in 2003 and second for strapping on the belt after every catch whether it was for 1 yard or 20 it didn’t matter, Fredex would celebrate. Freddie Mitchell only played 4 seasons with the Eagles totaling 90 catches for 1,263 yards and 5 touchdowns, those numbers were what were expected out of him for a single season, not 4.
2. Jon Harris:
The Eagles selected Harris with the 25th pick in the 1997 draft. Harris was a projected second or third rounder and Eagles fans were scratching their heads more than usual with this pick. He had the size for the position at 6-7 and 292 pounds, but he just didn’t have the physical ability. He only played two seasons for the Eagles totaling 2 sacks, that’s it. He was added into a trade with the Cleveland Browns in 1999 where he started and played in no games. He was handed another opportunity the following year with the Green Bay Packers, but the result was the same, no games started and no games played. Jon Harris was picked 25th overall and ended a four year NFL career with zero tackles and 2 sacks.
1. Mike Mamula:
Mike Mamula was selected by the Eagles with the 7th pick in the 1995 draft. He was an NFL combine warrior whose draft stock skyrocketed after one of the best workouts in combine history. Mamula’s career can be defined with the saying “close but no cigar”, he had to lead the league in quarterback pressures every season, but as I stated before, defensive ends are graded on sacks. Mamula played 6 seasons in the NFL, all with the Eagles and he showed some promise early on. In his rookie year he started 13 games and totaled 5.5 sacks. He came back in his second season starting all 16 games and totaling 8 sacks, things were looking up until a 4 sack season in 1997. Mamula finished his career with 31.5 sacks in 6 seasons, never living up to that combine workout. He will always be remembered by Eagles fans as the guy that was constantly in the backfield…after the quarterback threw the ball.
Here are some other dishonorable mentions such as the 1993 draft where the Eagles had two first round picks. They chose Lester Holmes with the 19th pick and Leonard Renfro with the 24th. They combined for 6 total seasons with the Eagles, starting a combined 26 games. Shawn Andrews selected 16th overall in the 2004 draft was supposed to be a road grader interior lineman for the Eagles for the next 10 years. He had all of the talent in the world, actually making one pro bowl, but he had off field mental issues that kept him from regaining his pro bowl form.
On April 28th the Eagles will again have the opportunity to select possible first round greatness or they could trade up and select the next bust. There are a number of talented, franchise type players the Eagles have drafted over the years, the players listed above are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Let’s hope they get it right this year and they select a franchise player that will be in midnight green for many years.
Be sure to check out my “Biggest Draft Steals in Eagles History” at Yahoo Sports: