Eagles' 10 worst first-round draft picks since 1980

Eagles' 10 worst first-round draft picks since 1980
April 25, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Freddie Mitchell and Jerome McDougle rank among the 10 worst first-round picks of the last 30 years, according to Reuben Frank. (USA Today Images)

Danny Watkins didn’t make the list, although if we do another one in a few years he might make that one.
 
Mike Mamula didn’t make the list, although a lot of Eagles fans probably (mistakenly) believe he should have.
 
Keith Byars and Lester Holmes didn’t make the list, although they were close.
 
No, the Eagles’ 10 worst first-round picks of the last 30 years is an exclusive club, and you have to be world-class bad to make your way into this group.
 
With the first round of the draft scheduled for Thursday night, let’s take a look at the Eagles’ 10 worst first-round picks since 1980, the first Super Bowl season.
 
Considering they’ve only had 30 first-round picks since, it’s pretty sad that we can even create this list and that it’s so hard to get onto it.
 
Since 1980, only 11 of the Eagles’ 30 first-round picks have made one Pro Bowl, and only seven of them – Jerome Brown, Lito Sheppard, Shawn Andrews, Tra Thomas, Mike Quick, Keith Jackson and Donovan McNabb – have made multiple Pro Bowls.
 
OK, here we go. Hope these names don’t give you nightmares!
 
10. Leonard Mitchell, OT, Houston, 27th pick in 1981
It took Mitchell four years to become a starter, and once he did, he held the job for just 2 ½ years. Mitchell started 43 games at right tackle  with the Eagles before drifting to the Falcons and then quickly out of the league when he was 28.
 
Who they could have had: Mike Singletary, Howie Long, Russ Grimm.
 
9. Antone Davis, OT, Tennessee, 8th pick in 1991
A decade after they drafted Mitchell, they tried again with Davis, who - oops - just wasn’t all that interested in playing football.
 
Davis did start at right tackle for a couple playoff teams, but his level of  play was never better than marginal and – similar to Mitchell – after bouncing to the Falcons for a couple years, he drifted out of the league before his 30th birthday.
 
Who they could have had: Brett Favre, Aeneas Williams, Ricky Watters.
 
8. Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA, 25th pick in 2001
He was part of two of the greatest plays in Eagles history – 4th and 26 and Donovan McNabb’s wild scramble on a Monday night in Dallas – but he wasn’t part of much else.

FredEx talked like a superstar but didn’t play like one. He caught just 90 passes for 1,263 yards and five touchdowns in four years with the Eagles and talked his way out of the league after the Super Bowl, where he was nearly sent home by Andy Reid after trash talking Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.

During his four years with the Eagles, 86 wide receivers caught more passes, 83 had more yards and 87 had more touchdown catches.

Mitchell was just 26 when he played his last NFL snap.
 
Who they could have had: Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, Santana Moss, Chris Chambers, Todd Heap, Drew Brees.
 
7. Kenny Jackson, WR, Penn State, 4th pick in 1984
Jackson wasn’t awful in 1985, his first full season as a starter, catching 40 passes for 692 yards and a touchdown. Not great, but not terrible.
 
But it was just downhill from there. Thirty catches the next year, then 21, and then just nine receptions in his last four NFL seasons.
 
By the time all was said and done, Jackson had caught just 126 passes for 2,170 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight seasons.
 
During his eight-year career, Jackson ranked 88th among NFL receivers in catches, 77th in yards and 83rd in touchdowns.
 
And he was the fourth pick.

Who they could have had: Boomer Esiason, Louis Lipps, Wilber Marshall.
 
6. Michael Haddix, FB, Mississippi State, 8th pick in 1983
No, Michael Haddix doesn’t have the worst rushing average in NFL history among players with 500 or more carries.
 
There was a guy who played in the 1930s who’s worse – Bob Monnett averaged 2.9 yards per carry with the Packers from 1933 through 1938.
 
Haddix was a tough-blocking fullback who averaged 3.0 yards per carry in his eight-year career with the Eagles. With the eighth pick overall, you’d
expect more than a blocker maybe?
 
Haddix does hold one NFL record. He’s the only player in NFL history with eight seasons averaging 3.5 yards per carry or less (based on a minimum
of 40 carries). He did it all eight of his NFL seasons.
 
Who they could have had: Dan Marino, Darrell Green, Joey Browner, Jim Kelly, Roger Craig, Albert Lewis, Richard Dent, Henry Ellard, Bruce Matthews, etc.
 
5. Jerome McDougle, DE, Miami, 15th pick in 2003
McDougle was a great guy who courageously returned to football after being shot in an attempted carjacking in Miami.
 
But the bottom line is he was the 15th pick in 2003 and had just three sacks in his career. He never started a game in parts of three seasons with the Eagles and one with the Giants.
 
Highlight of his career was a sack in 2004 on Eli Manning in Manning’s first NFL game, a hit Manning still says is the hardest he’s ever absorbed.
 
So there’s that. It’s not much.
 
Who they could have had:  Troy Polamalu, Anquan Boldin, Osi Umenyiora.
 
4. Bernard Williams, OT, Georgia, 14th pick in 1994
It’s easy to forget that before Williams was suspended for a positive drug test before the 1995 season, he was actually a decent player.

He made the 1994 all-rookie team after starting at right tackle for the Eagles and should have had a decent career.
 
Instead, he missed the 1995 season … and the 1996 season … and the 1997 season … and every other season. Last we heard, Williams still hadn’t applied to the NFL for reinstatement.
 
He never played in the NFL again after his rookie year and was out of the league for good at 23 years old.
 
Who they could have had: Larry Allen, Kevin Mawae, Isaac Bruce.

3. Jon Harris, DE, Virginia, 25th pick in 1997
The 6-foot-7 Jon Harris was such a reach in the 1997 draft that he wasn’t even watching ESPN yet when his name was called and Ray Rhodes compared him to Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
 
But Harris wouldn’t have even been a good seventh-round pick. He played in 24 games in his career, recorded two sacks, and was out of the league
before his 25th birthday.
 
Anybody remember the great Harris-for-John Michels trade? If you do, consider yourself an A+ Eagles historian!
 
Who they could have had: Jason Taylor, Darren Sharper, Tiki Barber, Ronde Barber, Corey Dillon, Jake Plummer
 
2. Leonard Renfro, DT, Colorado, 24th pick in 1993
The mid-1990s weren’t kind to the Eagles. In the span of 1993 through 1997, they drafted six players in the first round and none of them really panned out, although Jermane Mayberry – benched as a tackle - did eventually find a home at guard and even went to a Pro Bowl (and founded the Eagles’ Eyemobile, which still does terrific work providing glasses to kids in the Philly area who can’t afford them).

Worst of the bunch was Renfro, drafted soon after Reggie White left for the Packers. The addition of Renfro was almost as embarrassing to the organization as the loss of White.
 
He couldn’t play. And not until head coach Rich Kotite was ordered by owner Norman Braman to play him – against defensive coordinator Bud Carson’s wishes – did Renfro even get on the field.
 
When he did? Thanks to Braman, Renfro started against the Cowboys and Cards, who combined for 514 rushing yards in those two games. Emmitt Smith ran for a career-high 237 in a 23-10 win and a week later Ron Moore ran for a career-high 160 for the Cards in a 16-3 win.
 
Renfro never started another game. He played nine games the next year and was out of the league before his 25th birthday.
 
Who they could have had: Dana Stubblefield, Michael Strahan, Will Shields.
 
1. Kevin Allen, OT, Indiana, 9th pick in 1985
Allen started four games in a disappointing rookie season and tested positive for a banned substance the following training camp, prompting new Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan to say he could be useful only if you need “someone to stand around and kill the grass.”
 
Allen was charged and pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a Margate beach in September 1986. He served three years of a 15-year sentence and was banned from the NFL for life.
 
Who they could have had: Jerry Rice, Jim Lachey, Al Toon.

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