Hindsight is always 20/20, especially when it comes to the NFL draft. Teams do their best to scout and evaluate players but unfortunately there isn’t a scientific formula to help them make the right choice. There are always mistakes as not every player develops into solid NFL material. With that said, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some good players who were bypassed by the Eagles in a given draft…aka, players we “coulda had”. I will only be looking at 1st round picks since 1980 and comparing to other 1st rounders or high 2nd rounders that were available after the Eagles’ pick.
1983: Eagles selected RB Michael Haddix with the #8 overall draft pick. Over the course of the next 6 years he accumulated a whopping 401 carries for 1,189 yards and 3 TD’s, barely a 3 yard per carry average. He also had 144 receptions but by and large those are not the kind of numbers you’d expect from a top 10 draft pick.
Coulda had: 4 hall of famers! The very next pick at #9 was OL Bruce Mathews. He went on to make 14 pro bowls and is now in the hall of fame. And most of us should be familiar with the hall of fame careers of QB’s Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, and CB Darrell Green who were all available at the Eagles’ pick. This one probably hurts the most.
1985: Eagles selected T Kevin Allen with the #9 overall draft pick. Colossal mistake. He held out during training camp in a contract dispute and had to go through a crash course just to try and get ready for the season. He ended up being benched and relegated to special teams after just 4 weeks. The following year when he showed up for training camp Buddy Ryan had this to say about him: “He looks like a USFL (United States Football League) reject,” Ryan said sarcastically. “He doesn’t look like a No. 1 draft choice to me. He doesn’t fit in my plans.” He was later released and never played in the NFL again. Soon after his release he was arrested for sexual assault and spent 33 months in prison.
Coulda had: T Jim Lachey who went on to make a few pro bowls as a member of the Redskins vaunted offensive line called “The Hogs”. WR’s Jerry Rice (best receiver of all time) and Al Toon were also available.
1993: The Eagles had two 1st round picks this year. At #19 they selected G Lester Holmes and at #24 they took DT Leonard Renfro. Holmes lasted 4 lackluster years before being let go. Renfro only lasted 2 years in which he rarely played and accumulated only 19 tackles.
Coulda had: DT Dana Stubblefield who went on to 2 pro bowls and was the defensive player of the year in 1997. DE Michael Strahan could have been had at #24. We all should be familiar with him since he terrorized the Eagles over his career as a Giant and had some monumental battles with Big Jon Runyan. He will be a shoe-in as a 1st ballot hall of famer. Imagine if we had selected these 2 players that year…WOW!
1994: Eagles selected T Bernard Williams at #14. He started all 16 games as a rookie but was then banned from the NFL after that for failing several drug tests.
Coulda had: T Wayne Gandy who went on to a steady 15 year career and was a solid player. T Todd Steussie who went on to have a few pro bowl years with the Vikings. DT Tim Bowens who went on to be the NFL defensive rookie of the year followed up by a solid 11 year career with the Miami Dolphins.
1995: Eagles traded up to select DE Mike Mamula at #7 overall. Mamula has since been the poster child for “workout warriors” at the NFL combine. Many Eagle fans look at him as a bust but in my opinion he wasn’t. He put up decent numbers (31.5 sacks in 5 seasons) but they just weren’t as good as many expected for a top 10 pick.
Coulda had: DT Warren Sapp who went on to 7 pro bowls and will probably wind up in the Hall of Fame. The ironic thing about this is that the Eagles traded from #12 to #7 with Tampa Bay and the Bucs ended up selecting Sapp at the #12 spot.
2001: Eagles selected WR Freddie Mitchell at #25 overall. Freddie had more nicknames than he did big plays. He was on the receiving end of 1 play that will live on in Eagles lore…”4th and 26″ against the Packers in a playoff game. But overall his play never lived up to his talk.
Coulda had: WR’s Reggie Wayne or Chad Johnson (Ocho Cinco) or TE’s Todd Heap or Alge Crumpler.
2003: Eagles traded up to #15 and selected DE Jerome McDougle. Injuries and a gun shot wound stifled his career from the beginning and he could never recover. The only good memory from him was a crunching sack on Giant rookie QB Eli Manning. Too bad that was the only play he ever made.
Coulda had: S Troy Polamalu, TE Dallas Clark, or the player that many Eagles fans hope we get this year if and when free agency starts… CB Nnamdi Asomugha.
2006: Eagles selected DT Brodrick Bunkley at #14 overall. Although he wasn’t necessarily a bad pick, he hasn’t played as well as anticipated for that high of a draft pick. He is still one of our starters at this point and I hope he flourishes under new DL coach Jim Washburn, but we….
Coulda had: LB Chad Greenway, DE Tamba Hali, or C Nick Mangold who all have produced much more than Bunkley has at this stage of their careers.
2008: The Eagles held the #19 pick in the draft but decided to trade out of the 1st round with the Panthers.
Coulda had: RB Chris Johnson or TE Dustin Keller.
2010: Eagles traded up to pick #13 and selected DE Brandon Graham. Time will tell about this pick but his career is not off to a good start. I was anticipating the trade up in the 1st round but I was hoping for 1 of 2 players…Safeties Eric Berry or Earl Thomas. We…
Coulda had: S Earl Thomas (5 INT’s) or C Maurkice Pouncey (pro bowl player in his 1st year).
The one thing I’ve noticed after looking at all this is that it doesn’t seem to matter who is making the picks, the Eagles organization in general does a bad job at drafting 1st round linemen (at least since 1980). They hit on a few over the years (William “Tra” Thomas, Jermaine Mayberry) but most have turned out to be busts…and a few colossal busts at that.