This may not seem so topical since everyone is looking ahead to who the Eagles may take in the upcoming draft. There is a glut of information right now regarding the 2012 NFL Draft, and the popular saying is that it take three years to properly evaluate a draft.
Well here is is, three years after the 2009 draft, and it is worth taking a look back and evaluating just how well the Eagles did.
For the sake of context, the Eagles had just come off a season where they lost by a touchdown to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. They had an aging core of players including Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins. They had been to five or the last eight NFC Championship games, winning just one.
They allowed Runyan, Thomas and Dawkins to walk. They decided to give McNabb another shot to get it done with Westbrook and DeSean Jackson.
They held two first round draft picks, 21st and 28th. They traded the 28th pick along with a fourth-rounder for left tackle Jason Peters.
Here is how the 2009 NFL Draft played out for the Philadelphia Eagles.
First Round- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: B-Plus
In a truly surprising move, the Eagles traded up from the 21st pick to 19th to select a speedy wide receiver for the second consecutive year.Nobody, not one single person thought the Eagles would select Maclin.
Some thought they could take a receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt, but the Eagles shocked everyone by getting Maclin.
He hasn’t been a Pro Bowler or put together a 1,000-yard season, but Maclin has been a very good a productive player.
Three receivers drafted after him (Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace and Johnny Knox), have gone to the Pro Bowl.
In fairness, Maclin was generally viewed as a top-10 prospect and the Eagles managed to get him with the 19th pick.
Second Round- LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh: A-Plus
It may seem like hyperbole to grade this pick at the highest possible mark, but truly, the Eagles hit a home run with this pick.
LeSean McCoy was the best runner in the league this year, and he is still only 23 years old. McCoy looks to have quite a few dominating years left in his body.
McCoy was drafted after fellow backs Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown and Beanie Wells. He has absolutely dwarfed anything those three have accomplished in their first three years.
Named first-team All-Pro, McCoy is at the top of the game, and the only other back from this draft class anywhere near him is Arian Foster, who was an undrafted free agent.
Making this pick even more celebrated is the fact that McCoy was able to take the torch from Brian Westbrook without missing even half of a beat.
Fifth Round- Cornelius Ingram, Victor “Macho” Harris, Fenuki Tupou: F
No, you didn’t skip a slide. After LeSean McCoy was selected with the 53rd pick, the Eagles didn’t make another selection until 100 picks later. They included their fourth round pick in the Jason Peters trade, and they maneuvered their third round pick for extra selections.
In the end, they set themselves up with five picks in the fifth round.
They traded two of them to New England for cornerback Ellis Hobbs.
Then at 153, they picked Cornelius Ingram, a tight end from Florida. He was known as an injury risk, having already had an ACL injury. The Eagles viewed him as a value pick, but he never amounted to anything more than a practice squad player.
At 157, the Eagles grabbed Victor “Macho” Harris, a slow cornerback from Virginia Tech. He was the Eagles’ first failed attempt at replacing Brian Dawkins at free safety. Harris started eight games for the Eagles as a rookie, and one for the Redskins in his second year. He is now out of football.
Finally, with the 159th pick, the Eagles selected an offensive tackle from Oregon, Fenuki Tupou. Like Ingram, he was never anything other than a practice squad member. He filled that role for the Eagles for two years, and is currently performing it in New Orleans.
Sixth Round- Brandon Gibson, WR, Washington State: B
With the 194th pick, the Eagles chose wide receiver Brandon Gibson. Gibson was viewed by some as a second or third round talent that was buried on a bad college team.
Big bodied at 6’0″ and 205 pounds, Gibson had good hands and projected as a quality possession receiver.
In three seasons he has 123 receptions, 1399 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, all of it has been with the St. Louis Rams.
Despite the fact that he never played for the Eagles, they deserve credit for finding a productive player this late, and flipping Gibson for linebacker Will Witherspoon in 2009.
The Eagles (Surprise!) needed help at linebacker, and Witherspoon came in and had an interception returned for a touchdown on Monday Night Football against Washington.
Seventh Round- Paul Fanaika, OG, Arizona State; Moise Fokou, LB, Maryland: B
The first of the Eagles’ two seventh round choices was offensive guard Paul Fanaika with the 213th pick. He bounced around practice squads until late this season when he was on the active roster for three games.
With the 230th pick, the Eagles selected Moise Fokou. Give Fokou credit for hanging around in the league for three seasons, even being a part-time starter, but he should not be a starting linebacker in the NFL.
The Eagles have practically made it a policy to select linebackers in the final round of the draft and let them start. Maybe that is why they are so awful at the position.
Nevertheless, Fokou was a good pick for where he was taken. He has been a contributor on defense and special teams, and that is probably more than you can really expect from the 230th pick.
Overall Grade: B-Plus
The Eagles did an awful lot of trading of draft picks in 2009, most notably when they traded for Jason Peters. He has grown into arguably the best left tackle in the game.
They also traded for Ellis Hobbs, and they traded their way completely out of the third and fourth rounds, where talent was available. All the wheeling and dealing really led to absolutely nothing of note.
In addition to their draft choices and trades, they did sign Antonio Dixon, who was an undrafted free agent. Despite his injury last year, Dixon was a key performer in the middle of the defensive line, and the Eagles hope he will be next year.
The Eagles came away with two All-Pro performers in LeSean McCoy and Jason Peters, a very good wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin and a part-time contributor in Moise Fokou.
All-in-all, the Eagles had a successful 2009 draft, and they would be in good shape if 2012 was equally successful.