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Top 10 Worst Eagles Draft Picks of All Time

The St. Louis Blues declined to participate in the 1983 NHL Draft. The Eagles should have done that multiple times in their history.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We've looked at the best draft picks in Eagles history, now let us turn our eyes towards, then away from in horror, the worst picks in Eagles history. Come, take a terrifying trip down memory lane.

Honorable unmention: Jay Berwanger

Jay Berwanger is noted for being the 1st pick in the first NFL draft in 1936 because he never played in the NFL. That would seem like a shoo-in for a terrible pick, but it wasn't. The Eagles traded Berwanger's rights two days after the draft to the Bears, who were unable to reach a contract agreement with him. And back then, a draft pick choosing to not play wasn't unheard of. Bill Shakespeare was taken took spots after Berwanger and also declined to play. In the 1930s the NFL was still a regional sports league with a niche market, for some it was more lucrative to find employment elsewhere. If Berwanger was the 2nd pick or the 1st in the NFL second draft, he wouldn't be the footnote in NFL history that he is.

Dishonorable Mention: Mike Mamula

Mike Mamula is a favorite whipping boy of fans from the Ray Rhodes era, and he and the selection of him deserves a lot of scorn. Heading into the draft, the popular pick for the Eagles was defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who was reportedly falling down draft boards due to multiple failed marijuana tests. Instead, impressed by Mamula's showing at the combine, the Eagles traded up for Mamula. With the Buccanneers. Who took Sapp.

But unlike the rest of this list, Mamula could actually play, if only for a few years. In 1996 Mamula had 8 sacks, in 1999 he had 8.5, he was a legitimate NFL player for a few seasons. And he isn't even the worst pick of the Ray Rhodes era. Mamula wasn't a good pick by any means, but he wasn't as horrible as the names that follow.

10. 4th Round Kickers

To draft a kicker or punter is a waste of resources, so many of them are available as undrafted free agents. No one played more games in an Eagles uniform than David Akers, who went undrafted and bounced around three NFL teams and NFL Europe before joining the Birds. The Eagles though have wasted a pair of 4th round picks on kickers in their history. Alex Henery was one of the many whipping boys of the "Dream Team", a weak legged kicker taken in the 4th, he was a complete waste of a draft pick. But he wasn't even the worst kicker the Eagles drafted in the 4th round. That "honor" belongs to Happy Feller, one of the worst kickers in NFL history.


9. The 2003 and 2004 Drafts

In the heyday of the Andy Reid era, the team was a good example of sustaining success by replacing veteran players with draft picks. They were able to easily move from Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor with Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard; from Duce Staley to Brian Westbrook; and others. But when that well dried up, the team struggled.

Even the best drafting teams have a bad draft now and then, or a draft that only produces one very good player and little else. But to have back to back drafts with no long term answers, and to have the only truly good player out of those picks have his career derailed by injuries? That's a crippling set of circumstances. And that's the Eagles' 2003 and 2004 drafts.

16 picks, and not a single long term answer, not even as a backup. Shawn Andrews was terrific when he was healthy, and it's unfair to fault the team for his back injuries and mental health. But he's clearly the best player from these drafts. The second best player in that draft was... LJ Smith. Or maybe it was Jeremy Bridges, who started 55 games in 12 years. That's a nice career for a 6th round pick. But not one of those games was for the Eagles.

It's no coincidence that when injuries hit the team in 2005 and 2007, the Eagles sputtered. Players drafted in 2003 and 2004 should have been entering or in their prime those seasons, but they weren't contributing, or even on the roster. Jerome McDougle got shot on the eve of 2005 training camp and missed the entire season from complications from surgery. But he was already on the road to being a bust.

In 2003 they traded up and drafted McDougle and in the 5th round took DE Jamaal Green, in 2004 the team signed Jevon Kearse in free agency. When ND Kalu got hurt in the pre-season, both had an opportunity to establish themselves as the starter opposite Kearse. Instead Derrick Burgess got the job, and the Eagles brought back Hugh Douglas at the end of the pre-season, relegating McDougle and Green to the bench.

Billy McMullen did nothing and was outplayed by Greg Lewis, a 2003 undrafted free agent. In addition to Andrews, the Eagles drafted four offensive linemen. From 2005-2007 there were 19 games missed by an offensive linemen, only four of those games were filled in by the quadruplet of Bridges, Trey Darilek, Adrien Clarke and Domonic Fulio, all of them by Clarke, who was out of the league in 2008. They also drafted four defensive backs, by the end of the 2006 season, none were on the team.

The 2003 and 2004 drafts were more a perfect storm of bad circumstance. There was bad luck, they were unfortunate with Andrews' health, and if McDougle was going to turn his stalled career around in 2005 he was unfortunately robbed of it by missing a season. And there was bad drafting, eight picks after LJ Smith the Cowboys took Jason Witten, the next DE taken after Jamaal Green was Robert Mathis.

When you stock the cupboard with air, it runs out pretty quickly.

8. Michael Haddix

Which is the bigger draft bust, the player who gets on the field and is awful, such as Ryan Leaf, or the player who is so awful he can't even get on the field, such as Andre Ware (7th overall pick in 1990, only 161 career attempts)? There's arguments either way, and Michael Haddix is a shining example of the former. The 8th overall pick in the 1983 draft, Haddix was seen as the long term replacement to Wilbert Montgomery. Instead, he was just plain awful. No running back in NFL history with at least 500 carries has a worse career yards per attempt: 3.0. The longest run of his career was 21 yards. His career single game high in yards was 76, on 24 attempts for a pathetic 3.2 ypc. That was in his first game as a pro, so it was all downhill from there. He had more games with more rushing attempts than rushing yards (4), then career rushing touchdowns, (3). He was a competent receiver though, catching 172 passes for a respectable 7.6 yards per reception, which helped keep him on the field, because he didn't remotely cut it as a runner.

7. Freddie Mitchell

When we judge a draft in hindsight, it can be unfair to simply criticize a team for not taking a particular player over the one they did take. As in all things, context is key. For example in the awful 2003 draft, the Eagles took Jerome McDougle, who was a bust. The very next pick was Troy Polamalu. In hindsight, the Eagles should have drafted Polamalu. But it was completely unrealistic for them to have, they weren't a bad team where drafting a player at just about any position would be justified, they were one of the better teams in the league and set at the position. They had the great Brian Dawkins and the year before had drafted Michael Lewis, a fine player in his own right, in the second round. Safety wasn't remotely a priority for them. It is though entirely fair though to criticize a team for drafting a player who was a bust when a player at the same position who went on to a strong career was taken just a few picks later. We can question just what the hell did they see in the bust over the productive player.

Entering the 2001 draft, the Eagles were an up and coming team. They had just knocked off a Super Bowl contender in the Buccaneers before falling to the eventual NFC champion Giants. The defense was very good and Donovan McNabb had rocketed to stardom, finishing second in MVP voting. To take the next step, the Eagles needed to get McNabb better weapons to throw to. Fortunately there was a terrific wide receiver available by the time the Eagles picked at 25th overall. His name was Reggie Wayne. Unfortunately, the Eagles took Freddie Mitchell.

More noted for his mouth than his hands, Mitchell would be higher on this list if not for being on the receiving end of two highly memorable plays: McNabb's 14 second scramble and the epic 4th and 26. So, that gets him a little bit of a reprieve. On our list, not from prison.

6. Jon Harris

You can gauge the unpopularity of a draft pick by what the team says about the player. Taking the consensus top player at a position of need doesn't require the team to say much. The pundits agree it's a great pick and the fans are happy. But when they try to convince fans and the media, that's when you know they're in trouble. With Jon Harris, the 25th overall pick in the 1997 draft, the Eagles sounded like they were still trying to convince themselves. They couldn't stop raving about Jon Harris's huge wingspan, as if that alone made him worth taking in the first. It was a fitting way to defend a pick that was seen by everyone that wasn't the Eagles as a massive reach, including Harris himself:

"I have to say I was a little surprised,'' Harris said. "The Eagles called me in the morning and said they would try to get me; I didn't know they meant in the first round. I thought maybe I would go in the second round sometime.''

Ouch. As the pick was universally panned, and the Eagles' defense of it kept getting more absurd by the sentence.

Minutes after taking Harris, Rhodes found himself on ESPN, sparring with commentator Tom Jackson.

"Tom Jackson doesn't coach this football team,'' Rhodes said later. "He doesn't evaluate our talent for us. I don't care what anybody else thinks. We did a lot of research on this kid. We feel very positive about this young man.

"We had some defensive line coaches from around the league call and say they liked this pick. They said it takes a lot of guts to draft the guy you want and not worry what people might think. We'll see how all this comes out in the wash.''

After two years of no production, Harris was dealt to the Packers for John Michels, the Packers 1996 1st round bust. Harris was cut in camp by Green Bay and never played again.

5. Danny Watkins and the Reaches

Only two types of teams draft for need: bad teams; who have a lot of needs so just about any position is justifiable, and desperate front offices trying to patch holes to keep their jobs. Heading into the 2011 off-season, the Eagles were very much a desperate team feeling the pressure of having to win now. Not knowing what free agency would look like or when it would be begin due to the NFL lockout, they approached the draft as if it was their only chance to get players, and picked for need each time. In the first, they took the poster boy of that draft, Danny Watkins, the inexperienced, overaged fire fighter. Watkins wasn't a reach, he was considered a safe pick by many, with the tags "day one starter" and "future Pro Bowler" attached to him. But he was 26 and had only been playing football for four years. A team that routinely cut players when they hit 30 would, if everything worked out, be giving their top pick a second contract at that age. Watkins started his career by showing up to his first training camp in a fire truck and it was downhill from there, out of the league after three years. In the second round they knowingly reached for Jaiquan Jarrett, and filled out nearly the rest of the draft with bottom of the roster players in Curtis Marsh, Casey Matthews, the aforementioned Alex Henery, Dion Lewis, Julian Vanervelde, Brian Rolle, Greg Lloyd Jr. and Stanley Havili. The one saving grace from that draft was Jason Kelce, but even he can't rescue this draft from being one of if not the worst in Eagles history.

4. Kevin Allen

The 9th overall pick in the 1985 draft, offensive tackle Kevin Allen was more than just a bust on the field. He was a total disaster off it. In his first start, the Eagles gave up 8 sacks en route to a shutout. In camp the next year, he was arrested for cocaine, the team released him during the season. A week after being cut, he was arrested for rape and served 33 months in prison for it. He tried to come back in 1991 but wound up drifting around the Arena League for a few years instead. Buddy Ryan described him as someone who was good to have on the team "if you want someone to stand around and look at the grass"  Kevin Noonan of the Wilmington News Journal said of him "Never had the Eagles had a combination of bad person-bad player that could match this guy".

3. Leonard Renfro

The 1993 draft was the first opportunity for the Eagles to replace the stunning loss of Jerome Brown, who died months after the 1992 draft. The Eagles got by at defensive tackle without him, with second year player Andy Harmon stepping into the starting lineup alongside 30 year old Mike Golic. Golic would leave in free agency for the Miami Dolphins, increasing the need to fill the position. With two picks in the 1st round, the Eagles were in prime position to fill long term needs. With their second pick in the 1st round, 24th overall (they took the disappointing Lester Holmes at 19), they drafted defensive tackle Leonard Renfro. Bill Tobin, who a year later would get into a famous rant about Mel Kiper during and after the 1994 draft over the drafting of Treb Alberts, called Renfro "not ready to play in the NFL." He was wrong about Alberts but on the money about Renfro, who was out of the league after two seasons.

Two picks after Renfro, the 49ers took Dana Stubblefield, who was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1993 and a Pro Bowler in 1994, 1995, and 1997, when he was also an All Pro. Whoops.

2. Siran Stacy

The Eagles had no 1st round pick in 1992, having given it up the previous year to trade up for Antone Davis, whose biggest claim to fame was being the runner up in The Biggest Loser and whose Wikipedia page is way too long for such a lousy player. They made that trade with the Packers, who used the 1992 1st rounder to trade for Brett Favre. So the Eagles didn't have a pick until the middle of the 2nd round, with it they took Alabama star running back Siran Stacy. Stacy might have gone earlier but had was involved in a jewelry theft in high school, speeding and driving without a license and disorderly conduct in a nightclub incident in college. The Eagles were convinced that he had put that behind him.

He hadn't. Stacy was arrested in September of 1992 for speeding, and then again in November for assaulting his girlfriend. In 1994 he was acquitted when the girlfriend changed her testimony, a week and half after the acquittal he was arrested for assaulting her in a casino.

Things weren't any better on the field. Despite drafting Stacy and fellow running back Tony Brooks (father of Anthony Barr), after the draft the Eagles signed Herschel Walker, and Stacy (and Brooks) never played. At all. Stacy never touched the ball in his rookie season, (Brooks at least had a kick return) and both were cut after one season. The Browns gave him a try out, then he got arrested for shoplifting. He played in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe for a few years, later in life tragedy struck. In 2006 he swerved to try to avoid hitting a car and wound up hitting a different vehicle, pushing it into oncoming traffic and killing two passengers. Then sadly in 2007 a van he was driving was struck by a drunk driver. Stacy's wife, four of his children and the driver of the truck that hit them were killed.

1. Leroy Keyes

From mid-1960s to the mid-1970s the Eagles were dreadful. Because free agency was decades away, the only way to turn a team around was to either draft good players or trade draft picks for good players. The Eagles should have made more trades, they were pretty good at that, getting Stan Walters and Bill Bergey. And because they were incredibly bad at drafting them. Well, drafting and keeping them. In the 4th round of the 1969 draft they took Bob Kuechenberg, a Hall of Fame guard. He never played for the Eagles. In the 14th round of the 1970 draft, they took Mark Moseley, who was MVP of the league in 1982. The Eagles released him after the 1970 season. From 1966 to 1976, they drafted only six players who made the Pro Bowl with the Eagles.

The 1969 draft could have changed everything. The 1968 Eagles were 2-12, and the team completely cleaned house ahead of the 1969 draft: Leonard Tose bought the team early in the year and hired Pete Retzlaff as general manager and Jerry Williams, the defensive backs coach on the Eagles 1960 champion team of which Retzlaff was a star of, as his head coach. The Eagles were operating on a clean slate, and desperately needed a player who could turn the franchise's fortunes around. Luckily, they were in position to do just that.

With the 3rd overall pick in the 1969 draft, they selected Leroy Keyes, a star running back and defensive back in college. He couldn't play either one in the pros. After 121 carries for a 3.0 yards average his rookie year, the Eagles... wait for it sprots fans... moved him to safety. He couldn't cut it there either, was let go in 1972, and was out of football by the middle of the 1973 season. Williams was fired in October of the 1972 season and Retzlaff was shown the door at the end of that year. Making this pick worse was who was on the board at the time. Because the team was so bad and the entire management structure was new, this is an instance where it is fair to criticize a team for taking a bust over a great player at a different position. The very next pick after Keyes was Mean Joe Greene. The Eagles wouldn't have a winning record until 1978. By then an even more inept Steelers franchise turned into an iconic one, with Greene, an the catalyst of the change.

What could have been...

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