With the 2011 NFL draft just days away, I present a cautionary tale... Well ten cautionary tales to be exact. While the Eagles have generally been one of the more successful franchises in the draft under Andy Reid, they've also had some major misses. To be fair though, I actually found it pretty fun to take a trip down this not so pleasant memory lane. Later in the week, we'll flip this around and highlight the 10 best picks of the Reid era.
Get ready for swings and misses.
#10 Jack Ikegwuonu - 2008 - 4th round 131st overall pick - Jack is the lowest drafted player on our list having been taking in the 4th round. Usually a guy taken there wouldn't really qualify for a major bust list, but Jack's incredible array of red flags combined with extreme lack of any contribution was enough to get him on this list. First, there were the character issues. Prior to the draft, he was arrested for allegedly breaking into someone's dorm with his twin brother and stealing a guy's xbox. He still had a court date pending on the matter when he was drafted. But hey, he's a college kid they do crazy stuff right? Plus, he ended up being exonerated for the xbox thing... If only character issues were the only red flags.
There was also the small issue of his torn anterior cruciate ligament in a training accident prior to the draft. So even in the best case scenario, there was no chance he'd play in 2008.... and they used a 4th round pick on him.
He appeared in just one NFL game.
#9 Billy McMullen - 2003 - 3rd round 95th overall pick - Remember what people used to say about Billy McMullen? "He looks just like TO out there!" And it was true that physically he did resemble Terrell Owens at 6'4, 215 pounds. But that was where the comparisons stopped. McMullen simply never found a place in the offense or showed an ability to use his superior size to his advantage catching just one pass in his rookie year, three the next and finally 18 in his third season. After that, the Eagles gave up and traded the former 3rd round pick to the Vikings for undrafted free agent Hank Baskett. Baskett would catch as many passes in his rookie has McMullen did over three years with the Eagles.
Over his entire NFL career, he had 52 catches and 3 TDs.
#8 Matt McCoy - 2005 - 2nd round 63th overall pick - Matt McCoy probably shouldn't have been taken in the second round.... but he was. So he had a lot of expectations. If you're a second round pick you need to become a starter. McCoy did, for a couple games, but could never sustain a decent level of play.
After doing pretty much nothing in his rookie year, McCoy won the starting WILL job out of camp in 2006. He looked promising at first because of his speed and he even made a few plays forcing some fumbles... but it became apparent that he had one serious flaw. If a blocker got their hands on him, he was out of the play. He simply couldn't get off a block. He ended up losing his starting job 10 games into the season. He remained with the team into 2007, but was cut midway through the year.
To his credit, McCoy has carved out a career for himself in the NFL as a journeyman special teamer. He's spent time with the Saints, Buccaneers & most recently the Seahawks. Good for him for staying in the leauge, but for a second round pick he can't be seen as anything but a bust.
#7 Bobbie Williams - 2000 - 2nd round 61st overall pick - Williams is maybe the most interesting case on this list because he actually had a pretty good NFL career, just not in Philadelphia. He's been a 7 year starter for the Cincinnati Bengals. They got a great return on their investment in Williams, the Eagles did not. His success in Cincy only makes this pick look worse.
As a second round pick, a team is expecting to get a starter. For an offensive lineman, he really should be starting quickly if not right away. Unfortunately, Williams spent his entire rookie season inactive. In 2001, he was active just once, starting the final game of the year. In 2002, he was often active but never started a game. So as an offensive lineman taken in the second round, Williams had started one game in his first three years. In 2003, Williams failed to earn a starting job out of camp, but did end up as a starter after Jermaine Mayberry was injured in the fifth game of the season.
He left in free agency the following offseason. For a second round pick, the Eagles got 12 career starts in four years. The Bengals however, got 109 starts out of him...
#6 Tony Hunt - 2007 - 3rd round 90th overall pick - Tony Hunt had a great career at Penn State and the large amount of Penn State alums that reside in the Delaware Valley were pretty pumped over this pick. He was the second all time rushing leader for the Nittany Lions. Problem is, being a great running back at Penn State is hardly a sign of NFL success. The list of great Penn State backs that went on to be pro busts is impressive. Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Blair Thomas and of course our own Tony Hunt.
In two seasons with the Eagles, Hunt carried the ball 14 times for an average of 1.8 yards per carry. In his last season after one impressive preseason game the team tried an ill advised switch to fullback, which did neither him nor them any favors. After 14 career games over two seasons he was out of the NFL.
Last month he was apparently signed by a team in Austria called the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna. Maybe great ex-Penn State backs can flourish there.
#5 Barry Gardner - 1999 - 2nd round 35th overall pick - Like the other 2nd round linebacker on this list, Matt McCoy, Barry Gardner did manage to carve out a fairly long NFL career. After he was let go by the Eagles after four seasons, he spent some time with the Browns, Jets and Patriots.
However, his Eagles career never met the expectations that come with a very high second round pick. He did manage to crack the starting lineup after the Eagles let Jeremiah Trotter walk, but just never was good enough. There's alot of guys on this list where I can point to one thing that was their main deficiency, but with Gardner that's tough. He never seemed to be fast or strong enough. He never seemed to get the defense, he took bad angles... Again, he just wasn't good enough.
Being perfectly honest, I just don't remember almost anything he ever did. I do know however, that he was one of the guys that failed to make a tackle on that infamous Joe Jurevicous TD in the 2002 NFC title game...
#4 Freddie Mitchell - 2001 - 1st round 25th overall pick - The mere fact that his NFL career was over after four years should tell you all you need to know. For a team to not even take a chance on a perfectly healthy former first round pick shows what a miss Freddie was. He went on to claim that Donovan McNabb had somehow blacklisted him from the NFL and that was the only reason no team ever called.
If guys Donovan McNabb didn't like couldn't get jobs, why is Terrell Owens still in the league pushing 40? It's because he's good. Freddie isn't.
All that said, Freddie did give us 4th and 26 and we'll never forget that.
#3 Bryan Smith - 2008 - 3rd round 80th overall pick - Whether or not the Eagles meant to have the man from McNeese State play defensive end or linebacker or both is hard to say since he never played a real game here... but coming out school he was the poster boy for the "undersized tweener" label. He lasted only one season with the Eagles and did not play in a single game.
The next year he was picked up by the Jaguars, played in a couple of games and recorded three tackles. He spent last season on injured reserve.
#2 Quinton Caver - 2001 - 2nd round 55th overall pick - Caver had prototypical size at 6-4, 241. He was a really good player at Arkansas where he garnered all SEC honors in his senior year. When he was picked some had him tabbed as the "next Jeremiah Trotter." However, he struggled to ever find a place with the Eagles and they gave up on him quick. After appearing in 11 games as a rookie and recording 11 tackles, he was released midway through his sophomore season.
Caver would go on to sign with the Chiefs and spend a few years on their special teams, where he was seen as a solid contributor. He left after three seasons in KC and spent some time with Dallas on special teams and has been out of the league since 2005.
For for their second round pick, the Eagles got one and a half seasons and 16 tackles from Quinton Caver.
#1 Jerome McDougle - 2003 - 1st round 15th overall pick - More than any guy on this list, McDougle was a victim of circumstance. Specifically he more bad luck with injuries than any Eagle I can remember. So it's hard to say whether he ever had the talent to be a success in the NFL or not, but really it doesn't matter. You either do succeed in this game or you don't and Jerome most certainly did not. Fair or unfair, the ability to stay healthy in the NFL is almost just as important a "talent" as scoring a TD or sacking the QB.
After being taken with the 15th overall pick, McDougle spent five seasons with the Eagles and registered three sacks. For his career, he actually averaged less than one tackle per game played.
Just in case you forgot just how often McDougle was injured, take a look at his almost unbelievable injury history:
- In his rookie season, 2003, he was injured in the final preseason game against the Jets and missed eight games of the regular season. At the time it was said that he had injured his ankle, hip and knee.
- In 2004, he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and missed a game only to return and sprain his knee, causing him to miss the final four games of the season.
- In 2005, just days before he was to report to training camp McDougle was shot in the abdomen during a robbery attempt in Miami, Florida. Complications from emergency surgery cost him the entire 2005 season.
- In 2006 he fractured two ribs in preseason and missed the first three games of the year. In his return, he committed 30 yards of penalties in one play to set the Tampa Bay Bucs up for a 62 yard game winning FG in October.
- In 2007, he tore his triceps in preseason and missed the entire year.
- In 2008 he was cut after a fairly impressive preseason and picked up by the Giants. However, he never really played with New York, who released him after the season and he's been out of the NFL since
Dis-Honorable Mentions - Victor Abiamiri - the Eagles 2nd round pick from 2007 is really knocking on the door of this list, but since he's still on the team I figure he still has a shot.
Shawn Andrews - He had a little over two amazing seasons and looked like he might be one of the great picks of the Andy Reid era. However, he fell in maybe the most spectacular fashion we've ever seen. From the depression, to the injuries... he went from two time pro bowler into nothing. For a first a pick to only have two or three really good seasons and literally nothing else... not average or bad seasons, but nothing else? That sounds like a bust.