From 1999 through 2005, the Eagles drafted 58 players. Eight of them went to at least one Pro Bowl, and those eight went to 16 combined Pro Bowls. And that happens to be the most successful stretch in franchise history, with nine postseason wins, four NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance.
From 2006 through 2011, the Eagles drafted 58 players, and two of them have gone to a total of three Pro Bowls. And that happens to be a stretch where the Eagles have won just two playoff games, played in one NFC title game and failed to reach a Super Bowl.
Coincidence? No chance.
The Eagles draft struggles the last six years have led directly to the teams struggles on the field. You can cobble things together with free agents, late-round picks and overachieving journeymen. But in the long run, if you dont replenish your roster with first-rate, homegrown talent, its going to be very difficult to win consistently and make deep runs in the playoffs.
And weve seen it the last several years.
The last six drafts have landed the Eagles only two Pro Bowl players -- running back LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson. The Eagles are one of only 12 NFL teams that hasnt drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player since 2006. And they havent drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player in the first three rounds since 2002 -- a decade ago.
They have to get better.
The Eagles have three of the first 51 picks in this years draft, scheduled to begin Thursday, and its a great opportunity for head coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman to infuse the roster with some young impact players.
One of the many reasons I love what I do is because its so black-and-white, Roseman said Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. You are what your record is, and going 8-8, we didnt do a good job, and I take that very seriously.
The Eagles havent won a playoff game since 2008, their first two-year gap without a postseason win since 1998 and 1999, when the franchise was transitioning from head coach Ray Rhodes to Reid.
They missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007 and only the third time since 2000.
It's all about the personnel in this league, Roseman said. You want to have good players. If you have good players, you're going to give yourself a better chance to win. So the more Pro Bowl, difference-making players you have on your team, the better chance you'll have to win those games.
Normally big-time players make big-time plays in big games. We believe that. We think we have a lot of good players on this team, but we would like to add more.
In a way, some of the criticism directed at Roseman has been unfair. He wasnt GM when busts like Jerome McDougle, Bryan Smith and Victor Abiamiri were drafted.
This is his third draft as general manager. The first came just a couple months after he replaced Tom Heckert and produced two players in the first two rounds in Brandon Graham and Nate Allen who havent had a healthy season yet and might still develop into terrific players. The second produced Danny Watkins, a solid starter, and Jaiquawn Jarrett, who didnt have an off-season and is impossible to evaluate so far.
So you feel like this is the first year where the playing field is level and it is what it was supposed to be, so Im real excited about that, Roseman said. Im excited about our football team that we have now, Im excited to add to that, and Im excited about the future.
A glance at the Eagles depth chart shows that only six of 22 projected starters were drafted by the Eagles in the first three rounds -- Jeremy Maclin, McCoy, Jackson and Watkins on offense and just Mike Patterson and Nate Allen on defense.
Nobody the Eagles drafted in the first three rounds in 2006 or 2007 is still with the team. And only Jackson is left from 2008.
Its all about the talent you have on your team, and it shows in your record you have, Roseman said. We are what the record says we are. We are what the success of our team is.
Obviously, youd like it to come out perfectly. Youd like your first rounders to be your Pro Bowlers, your second-round picks to be your really good starters, your third-round picks to be your solid starters. It just doesnt always work that way. We got to try to do the best job we can in trying to get the best talent on this team. And thats going to start next week.
How do the Eagles plan on turning all this around?
Roseman said the Eagles have examined everything about the way theyve drafted in recent years, both the positives and the negatives, and looked at other teams to see whats worked for them.
He said the Eagles wont make the mistake of drafting for need anymore, resisting the temptation to take a player at a position where theyre weak and making sure they simply take the best player available. He said theyll also place less emphasis on the Combine and personal workouts, focusing instead on game film.
I think that its important to look at the teams that have done a good job in a particular round or at a particular position and see what theyre looking for, he said.
Youve got to look at what everyone else is doing in your industry thats successful and make sure you put your own spin on it but take something from them.
You're not going to bat 1,000. You have to know that in this league that youre going to lose games that are going to beat you up, and youre going to miss on players. Everyone does it. It happens to Hall of Fame GMs, its going to happen to everyone.
You want to learn from it and do a better job next time. That doesn't mean you accept it, doesn't mean you dont beat yourself up, it doesn't mean you don't go back and think about what you did and what you can do better the next time, but I'm big on process and if you do the right process most of the time you're going to have good results.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org