Wake-Up Call: What the Eagles’ Draft History Tells Us

Ronnie Stanley. (USA Today Sports)

If the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, it seems reasonable that we should look to the Eagles’ draft history for guidance. And given that Jeffrey Lurie appears intent on recreating an era gone by at One NovaCare Way, examining the old regime’s tendencies might be particularly helpful in this case.

Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman both grew their NFL chops while working under Andy Reid, who is a firm believer in building football teams from the inside-out. That philosophy showed up time and again in late April.

Let’s take a quick look back at the Eagles’ first-round selections with Reid at the helm:

1999 (No. 2 overall) — Donovan McNabb, QB, Syracuse
2000 (No. 6 overall) — Corey Simon, DT, Florida State
2001 (No. 25 overall)– Freddie Mitchell WR, UCLA
2002 (No. 26 overall) — Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida
2003 (No. 15 overall) — Jerome McDougle, DE, Miami
2004 (No. 16 overall) — Shawn Andrews, T, Arkansas
2005 (No. 31 overall) — Mike Patterson, DT, USC
2006 (No. 14 overall) — Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State
2007 — no pick. (Drafted QB Kevin Kolb with 36th overall selection.)
2008 — no pick. (Drafted DT Trevor Laws with 47th overall selection.)
2009 (No. 19 overall) — Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
2010 (No. 13 overall) — Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
2011 (No. 23 overall) — Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
2012 (No. 12 overall) — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.

By position:

QB: 1
OL: 2
DL: 6
CB: 1
WR: 2

In all, eight of the 12 first-round picks under Reid were dedicated to the trenches. That trend has continued out in Kansas City, with the Chiefs addressing the line with two of of their three top picks (OT Eric Fisher, DE Dee Ford) since 2013.

As far as his tendencies in Philly, the outlier of the group is clearly defensive line, as the Eagles dedicated half of their first-round picks to that cause under Reid. That’s enough to make you to re-examine the chances of players like Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins and Clemson DE Kevin Dodd being the pick at 8, if only for a moment. And it definitely adds credence to the thought that DeForest Buckner or Joey Bosa could be the pick should they somehow slide come draft night.

Offensive line is the more pressing issue, of course. And while the idea of grabbing a tackle is no longer as en vogue among analysts for whatever reason, we do have a situation where there is a need at a highly-valued position. The third critical component is player rating, and whether Jack Conklin or Ronnie Stanley are graded high enough to justify the selection.

While Reid valued his lines above nearly all else, he made quarterback the top priority upon arrival. Without the selection of McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick in ’99, much of the success that followed would not have been possible. His protege is apparently looking to follow suit, but the Eagles’ offer to move up to the No. 1 spot (presumably for Carson Wentz) was withdrawn before Tennessee dealt the pick to the Rams. Now, they must determine whether Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch fit the bill of franchise quarterback, and if it’s worth the price to move up to ensure they land one of them.

Every draft is unique, and the Eagles’ top-rated players are likely at a number of positions from QB to corner to maybe even running back. But if we’re simply playing the odds here, past behavior suggests that a lineman at 8 is a solid bet.


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Zach Berman reacts to the Rams dealing for the number one pick.

For the Eagles, it would have been difficult to land Wentz or Goff at No. 8. There were rumors that they were interested in the No. 1 pick, but they didn’t have the same resources to offer as the Rams – particularly the two second-round picks. If two quarterbacks go atop the draft, then it would send another top prospect down to No. 8. Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who were both believed to be in contention to be the No. 1 pick, could now drop a few spots, which would in turn send other top players down to No. 8. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves are among the top non-quarterback prospects.

Ian Rapoport believes the Eagles could still execute a trade up in the draft.


We’ll round up the latest mock drafts now that the Rams hold the top spot.