Earlier today we took a stroll down memory lane with the Eagles linebackers, examining how the unit slowly degenerated into the whipping boys they are today. It sparked some decent discussion, with one specific conversation going deep into just how much or little the front office really does prioritize the position.
To summarize, the point was the Eagles have only used one first- or second-round pick on a linebacker going all the way back to 2002, when Andy Reid took over as the VP of Personnel. There was no denying that fact, but unless we went back and looked at every draft to see who was available, who was already on the roster, who they selected, etc., the information didn't necessarily mean anything by itself.
Well, look no further than 2010 for an example of when they could have spent another second.
Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman, a pair of Penn Staters, have been brought up before as solid, emerging players the Eagles could have sought in that draft. That doesn't really even begin to tackle how huge the gaffe was. Let's break it down step-by-step:
1. The Eagles trade pick 55 to the Dallas Cowboys, who select Sean Lee. I'm not strictly opposed to trading within the division, but you better not lose as badly as they did here. Lee is having an absolutely terrific season in his first year as a starter, and we'll be seeing him twice a season for years to come.
2. The Eagles trade pick 59 acquired from Dallas -- three picks later, Brandon Spikes and Pat Angerer are taken. Spikes went to New England, where he's started 14 games over two seasons. Jury is still out, but has good size coming out of Florida. Angerer went to the Colts, and besides having a kick-ass name for a linebacker, has turned into a very productive player. The former Iowa Hawkeye would look pretty good with another bird on his helmet.
3. The Eagles finally select Daniel Te'o-Nesheim with pick 86 -- five later, Navorro Bowman is gone. Bowman is surrounded by talent in one of the best defenses in the NFL, but he is flourishing as a downhill interior linebacker in their 3-4. A little undersized, but his skill set would have translated well in Jim Johnson's defense.
It's not as if their need at linebacker was entirely unrealized at the time, either. Stewart Bradley was still rehabbing from an ACL tear, Moise Fokou was a seventh rounder only one year prior, and they brought in Ernie Sims to fill the hole left from the Chris Gocong swap. Surely they could have used somebody in there.
But no. They traded out, again and again, and passed on MULTIPLE quality linebackers, any one of them seemingly an upgrade over the current group. And what did they get for the trouble of trading out multiple times, then ultimately passing up Bowman?
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, Ricky Sapp, Riley Cooper, and Dion Lewis.
Really. That was the "haul" for passing on all those linebackers.