How Brian Westbrook Screwed the Eagles

Okay, calm down, the title of this post is a little deceiving. Brian Westbrook never personally did anything to hurt the Eagles in any way while playing here and was in fact, in my mind anyway, the primary reason the Eagles made the playoffs a few of those years during the Eagles run of the 2000s. However it is my theory that the drafting of Westbrook and his subsequent excellence led to a shift in the Eagles drafting philosophy that has hurt them ever since.

Brian Westbrook was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2002 draft pick #91. At that time he was looked at as a bit of a reach pick. Because of his slight frame he was not seen as a player durable enough to be a primary back on an NFL team. Also, his stellar collegiate stats were seen as padded by playing against inferior division II opposition. Westbrook was seen as a 4th round value for a team looking for a third down change of pace back. As we all know, he certainly exceeded expectations becoming one of the top offensive weapons in the NFL. By any standard you want to bring this so called "reach 3rd round pick" was a home run for Andy Reid and the Eagles scouting department.

Here is where the problem arises. Since the Westbrook pick, the Eagles and Andy Reid have been like a drug addict "chasing the dragon" looking to regain the euphoric feeling they got from their first high. Third round picks have been thrown like shit against the wall to see what sticks. The Eagles seem to have decided that the third round is a round best used to take a reach or a project. Well the problem with trying to outsmart the rest of the NFL is that it rarely works unless you are actually smarter. Despite the fact that this drafting philosophy has met with marginal, and I think I'm being generous here, success the practice continued into the 2012 draft with the pick of Nick Foles.

Prior to the 2002 draft Andy Reid made two third round picks. Doug Brzezinski in 1999 from BC was thought of, by some scouting services, as the number one guard coming out in the draft that year with a 2nd round value. Derrick Burgess in 2001 had just finished a year at LSU in which he was selected first team All-SEC and was projected to be picked in the 2nd round. Say what you want about their on field performances and the small sample size, but both players came from big time football programs and can only be seen as good value picks for where they were drafted.

Since the 2002 draft the Eagles and Andy Reid have selected nine players in the third round:

2003 Billy McMullen: Virginia, good school but projected as a 4th rounder

2004 Matt Ware: UCLA, good school projected as a late 2nd rounder

2005 Ryan Moats: Louisiana Tech, small school projected 4th rounder

2006 Chris Gocong: Cal Poly, small school Div II projected 5th rounder

2007 Stewart Bradley: Nebraska, big school projected 3rd round

2007 Tony Hunt: Penn State, big school projected 3rd round

2008 Bryan Smith: McNeese St small school projected 7th round-UDFA

2009 Got smart and traded out of the third

2010 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim: Washington, big school projected 5-6 round

2011 Curtis Marsh: Utah State, small school projected 4-5 round

2012 Nick Foles: Arizona big school projected 5th round

As you can see by the list above only one player drafted in the 3rd round after 2002 would be considered a good value for where they were drafted and two more were drafted in the round they were projected. The rest of the players were all thought of as reaches. Some like Te'o and Smith were the WTF type of reaches. Unfortunately, there have not been any Westbrook type home runs in the third round since 2002. In fact it is debatable whether the Eagles even hit any singles. They did get some starters at linebacker but when you think of Eagle linebackers over the years, the words quality or even fair do not come to mind.

Thank you, Brian Westbrook for your stellar play and all your contributions to the Eagles over the years but I don't know if you would be happy with the way your legacy has lived on with the front office.