Much like a national foreign policy or a 401k plan, the fruits of a well planned and executed NFL draft cannot be fully appreciated many times until years have passed allowing us to reflect on the impact of the various players, trades or signings that occurred in relation to that year's draft. As the 2009 NFL draft nears closer, there is much speculation and debate about what the Philadelphia Eagles will do to bolster their chances of capturing their first Super Bowl. But rather than look to the future in this article, let's examine the past in order to see how well the Eagles front office performed with the Draft Class of 2005.
Note: I've chosen 2005 because that is the class which entered the NFL 4 years ago, which seems like just enough time to really observe the contributions of each drafted player.
Round 1, Pick 31
Mike Patterson, Defensive Tackle, 5-11", 292lbs., University of Southern California
The knock on Patterson was that he was undersized to play defensive tackle in the NFL. Patterson however was known to be a resourceful “high motor” player. He certainly is, and has become one of the Eagle’s solid presences up front in the defense. Although he has not been voted to a Pro Bowl yet, he is certainly one of the reasons for the Eagle’s strong defensive presence this past season.
The Eagles long ago recognized Patterson’s abilities and to their credit locked him into a long term deal in only his second year. He is signed through 2016. The Eagles did very well with their first round selection in this draft. Although they often say they don’t draft specifically for need, it was obvious that their aging defensive line needed immediate upgrades and Patterson was a great piece who contributed immediately and has actually gotten steadily better as he has matured in Johnson’s system.
Who they could have selected: Logan Mankins, OG. The Eagles love their offensive linemen, and as you can see later in this draft, they selected a slew of them. The Eagles had a chance to select a good one here in Mankins, who with the Patriots, was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2007.
Round 2, Pick 35
Reggie Brown, Wide Receiver, 6'1", 197lbs., University of Georgia
With adequate size and speed, Brown was a very accomplished receiver in college. Considering that when Brown was drafted, the Eagles still had T.O. , Freddie Mitchell, and Todd Pinkston, Brown was expected to come into a receiving corps that was in utter turmoil and become a foundation of stability. In his rookie year, Brown led all rookies in receptions and yards. In 2006, Brown got his big break as the “Number 1” receiver in Philadelphia. In 2006, he also got a big long term contract extension, with $10 million in guarantees. As of today, Reggie Brown is still on the Eagle’s roster although his role has been diminished to nearly nothing as he is seen as the last option behind Jackson, Avant, and Basket. This selection started well, but has since progressively gotten worse with each passing season. I’m not sure where Reggie Brown lost his mojo, but it has become apparent for some time now that he may never quite get it back. Instead, there was a receiver who the Eagles could have selected who has developed VERY nicely into a true number 1 option. I’ll mention him below.
Who they could have selected: Vincent Jackson, a 6’5”, 230 lbs. wide receiver, was still on the draft board at #61. The Eagles have had a glaring need for a big tall wide receiver that can stretch the field and also jump up and catch balls where ever they are thrown. Here would have been a great time to get one. Last season Jackson had 59 rec, 1098 yards, and 7 TDs. His big size and leaping ability make him a great target and he’s slowly emerged as one of River’s primary targets other than Antonio Gates.
Round 2, Pick 63
Matt McCoy, Outside Linebacker, 6'0", 234lbs., San Diego State University
With their second pick in the 2nd round, the Eagles wanted to find a linebacker who could be a solid starter. They did not find one here. In fact, they didn’t even find a player worth keeping on the roster. After the Eagles released him in 2007, he was picked up by the Saints (who always seem to pick up Eagle’s linebackers off the trash heap for some reason) and then picked up by Tampa Bay after the season with the Saints. He is no longer regarded as a starter on most teams.
Who they could have selected: Justin Tuck, Defensive End. This guy has since been to the Pro Bowl and he won the Super Bowl with the Giants.
Round 3, Pick 77
Ryan Moats, Running Back, 5'8", 210lbs., Louisiana Tech University
Ryan Moats is probably better known now for being the NFL player who was recently stopped in Texas and harassed by a police officer outside of a hospital while his mother-in-law died. It should be noted that, during the offseason when it was uncertain whether Brian Westbrook would be signed to a contract, the Eagles “coincidentally” drafted a Westbrook clone with Moats. Some observers claimed that this move was a premeditated move to force Westbrook’s hand. Unfortunately, Moats never made much of a name for himself otherwise. Now with the Houston Texans, he barely touched the ball during the 2008 season.
Who they could have selected: Frank Gore. Actually, this isn’t 100% true, Gore was selected at #65 but in reality, the Eagles should have chosen him instead of Matt McCoy with pick 63. They needed a running back, they had two choices and severely made an error. Instead, once again, Gore is the “big running” back that the Eagles severely need. This past season, he had over 1,000 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns with the 49ers.
Round 4, Pick 102
Sean Considine, Free Safety, 6'0". 206lbs., Iowa State University
The search for Brian Dawkin’s eventual successor actually began as far back as with the selection of Sean Considine. Ironically, he ended up leaving the Eagles in the same off season as Dawkins. Considine isn’t a horrible player but he never seemed to find his groove in Philadelphia. At 6’0” and just a shade over 200 lbs., Considine was also a bit small for his role. He now plays with the Jaguars.
Who they could have selected: Marion Barber. I’m going with the Eagles need a big running back theme again and say that Barber was in the 4th round waiting to be a Philadelphia Eagle. Instead of drafting him, Eagles management thought it would be more fun trying to stop him as a Dallas Cowboy. In 4 NFL seasons, Barber has amassed 36 TDs, and over 3,000 yards rushing.
Round 4, Pick 126
Todd Herremans, Offensive Tackle, 6'6", 321lbs., Saginaw Valley State University
Finally, a good pick emerges in the 4th round. The Eagles always keen on finding quality players for their lines, picked up Herremans here although they didn’t yet need him to play heavy minutes at the time. He has since become an integral player for the Eagles strong offensive line.
Who they could have selected: None actually, the Eagles did quite nicely here finding a quality starter in the 4th round is a good job.
Round 5, Pick 146
Trent Cole, Outside Linebacker, 6'2", 257lbs., University of Cincinnati
Second great pick in a row! Trent Cole has thrived as a defensive end since he became a regular part of the rotation. While he’s regarded as slightly small for his position, he’s very disruptive and a sack producer. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2007, and in 2008 recorded 9 sacks, and 77 tackles. There isn’t much more that can be said, but finding a solid Pro Bowl quality starter for you defensive line in the 5 round is great work by the Eagles.
Who they could have selected: None. Again, you can’t ask for much more than a Pro Bowl player like Cole in the 5th round.
Round 5, Pick 172
Scott Young, Guard, 6'4", 312lbs., Brigham Young University
This is one of Andy Reid’s obligatory Brigham Young draft choices. After riding the bench for several seasons, Scott Young made his way to Denver and hasn’t made much of an impact their either.
Who they could have selected: Honestly, anybody. Just anybody would have been better than another offensive lineman who will fall into the endless abyss with the rest of the offensive linemen Andy Reid drafts by the battalion load.
Round 6, Pick 211
Calvin Armstrong, Offensive Tackle, 6'7", 325lbs., Washington State Univeristy
Continuing to draft offensive linemen like they are on clearance at the Gap, Reid’s selection of Armstrong was pitiful. He was released almost immediately, and has since played everywhere but the NFL. He’s currently playing in Canada.
Who they could have selected: Derek Anderson, QB, was selected by Baltimore only two picks later. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2007. Let’s be honest, a lot of people wish they had made this pick.
Round 7, Pick 247
Keyonta Marshall, Defensive Tackle, 6'1", 290lbs., Grand Valley State University
Marshall’s first game with the Eagles in 2005 was also his last, as he was cut immediately afterwards. He’s apparently no longer in the league.
Who they could have selected: At this point does it matter?
Round 7, Pick 252
David Bergeron, Inside Linebacker, 6'4", 245lbs., Stanford University
I’m not even sure Bergeron was ever landed in Philadelphia before he was cut. Oh well.
Who they could have selected: I guess since this was the last pick the Eagles had, I’ll suggest one name. I didn’t include players who were originally undrafted, since no teams drafted them, it would be unfair to be critical of the Eagles for missing them too. A bit ironically, I would like to mention that Leonard Weaver who was a recent Pro Bowl alternate in 2008 and signed by the Eagles this offseason, was undrafted in 2005.
In 2005, the Eagles had a total of 11 draft picks. This was a good thing (afterall they covet their draft picks don’t they?) The question is how did those picks translate to real contributions to the franchise, and also were there critical misjudgments?
Overall, the 2005 draft was a good (not great) one for the defense. Mike Patterson and Trent Cole literally saved this draft for the Eagles. Both players have carved out starting positions and solid young careers. On offense, despite drafting a phalanx of offensive linemen as usual, the Eagles only managed to keep one. But Herremans, has become a solid starter for the Eagles and he will be relied upon heavily this coming season.
Out of 11 picks during this draft, only four players remain on the Eagle’s roster four years later. Of those four players, three are solid starters and Reggie Brown is now a backup.
The most damaging aspect of the draft lies in who the Eagle’s did not draft. While the Eagles selected Reggie Brown, they should have selected Vincent Jackson, a big, tall, athletic wide receiver.
Instead of Matt McCoy, the selection of Justin Tuck would have given the Eagles a dominating defensive end combination with fellow draftee Trent Cole.
Rather than select Ryan Moats to potentially, “replace” Westbrook, the Eagles should have addressed their need for a larger running back and selected either Frank Gore or Marion Barber who were both available when Moats was selected.
Notice also that the Eagle’s failure to select future star players Justin Tuck and Marion Barber allowed them to be drafted into the NFC East rivals Giants and Cowboys respectively, where they now face the Eagles twice each season a piece.
This draft wasn’t the best one for the Eagles. The thing that makes this draft less successful is the fact that many of the areas that continued to plague the Eagle’s teams for seasons after 2005 (and still today) were addressed but not satisfied in this draft. The need for a larger physical running back to complement Westbrook, the need for a taller wide receiver who can catch “jump balls”, even the need for a prototypical defensive end to replace Javon Kearse were all easily available to the Eagles as they instead selected players who only compounded their problems.