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The Biggest Draft Busts in Recent Eagles History

With the Marcus Smith experiment officially coming to an end, who is the biggest Eagles bust?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What is a bust anyway?

To properly identify a bust, let's first define a bust. A bust is often thought of as a player who just couldn’t make it in the National Football League. Expectations of that player, though, also play a critical role in defining busts. For instance, former Eagles third-round selection Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is never mentioned as a bust despite very similar career production to Marcus Smith through his four years in the league. There is an obvious difference between the two players, though, the draft capital that was spent on each. And, as the draft capital increases, so too, do the expectations of that player. Therefore, the easy definition of a bust could be a player that falls majorly short of expectations.

But what if those expectations were unrealistic from the beginning? Is it fair to label a player as a bust when the expectations of that player are misaligned? What if the player, like Marcus Smith, was drafted in a position that created unfair expectations? Should they still be considered at the same level of bust?

With these questions in mind, let’s explore some of the more maligned Eagles draft picks in in the last 20 plus years and evaluate their overall “bust-ness”. Also, to ensure the proper expectations were present for the player, I will stick to first-round or selective second round picks.

(Note: This is obviously just to determine the second biggest bust. Carson Wentz is easily the biggest bust of all time because, you know, mechanics.)

Mike Mamula

The 7th overall pick in 1995 is often brought up (even by non-Eagles fans) as one of the biggest busts of all time. To his credit, though, Mamula had 31.5 sacks through six seasons. Who was the real bust here? Was it Mamula or the Eagles front office for drastically overreacting to his combine performance?

Jon Harris

After losing DE William Fuller in free agency in the 1997 offseason, then Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes decided to spend the 25th overall selection on Harris who many draft pundits considered a third-round pick at best. When asked for a comparison, Rhodes said that Harris might be more fluid than former Dallas Cowboy Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Harris then went on to reward Rhodes’ faith in him by accumulating two sacks in four total NFL seasons.

Freddie Mitchell

Often remembered for his “4th and 26” catch, the 25th pick in the 2001 draft only played four seasons in the NFL despite being to a team in desperate need of a wide receiver. While he did come through on some key catches in big moments, Mitchell only put accumulated 90 catches for just over 1,200 yards and five total touchdowns in his career. Unlike many of the other players on this list, Mitchell had a bit of an attitude problem that could’ve factored into his performance. For me, that puts him firmly in the bust category.

Shawn Andrews

The 16th overall pick in the 2004 draft was one of the biggest young stars early on at his position until severe back injuries and bouts with depression got the better of his career. It would be hard to paint Andrews as a bust given the player he was and the circumstances surrounding him but it is still one of those “what could’ve been” scenarios.

V. Abiamiri

The first second-round pick on the list, drafted in 2007, Abiamiri deserves mention due to the high hopes he brought for the defensive end position that he was unfortunately unable to fulfill. After beating out Jaqua Parker for the starting DE job, Abiamiri suffered a knee injury requiring micro-fracture surgery and later a torn Achilles which ultimately ended his career. In three seasons, Abiamiri combined for just 30 tackles and four sacks in his career. Another hard one to label a bust, but worth mentioning.

Danny Watkins

The infamous 26-year old first-round draft pick is certainly in contention to take home the prize. The can’t-miss guard from Baylor was a huge miss. He couldn’t stay engaged in anything other than firefighting and struggled to pick up offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s schemes and was out of the league in three seasons.

Jaiquawn Jarrett

Another second-round pick in what turned out to be a terrible 2011 draft. In fairness to Jarrett, the Eagles later essentially admitted reaching on this pick based on positional need. The hard hitting safety from Temple was much more of an in-the-box player than deep safety. He just happened to come to a team and fan base that was foaming from the mouth for safety help. To Jarrett’s credit, he was able to redeem himself slightly and produce two mildly productive season in New York before finding his way out of the league.

Nate Allen

Allen is another player that is difficult to sell as a bust after just signing on with the Miami Dolphins to embark on his eight NFL season. Eight years in the league is more than double the league average so he must be doing something right. Allen is more a victim of expectations. Like Jarrett, Allen came to the Eagles fresh off their transition away from Brian Dawkins. He also had the pleasure of being Donovan McNabb’s replacement when he was selected with the Redskin’s early 2nd round pick in 2010.

Marcus Smith

Oh Marcus, we hardly knew you. Smith was cut by the Eagles on Wednesday of this week after three very un-impactful seasons. Although Smith seemed to be slightly turning a corner in Jim Schwartz’s defense, he seemed disinterested in competition during this past spring which, as Eric Rowe could tell you, will not win you a job in Schwartz's defense. Smith, like some others above though, was over-drafted. Smith was a popular second or third-round target heading into the 2014 draft but was surprisingly taken 26th overall in 2014. Should he be blamed for that? Maybe not. Then again, he didn’t perform like a second or third round pick either.

Nelson Agholor

It is still too early to officially label Agholor a bust. Entering his third season with the Eagles, Agholor has been a popular name this offseason. His career is at a bit of a crossroads. He could either turn things drastically around or become one of the bigger busts in recent history. Unlike some others above, Agholor was, by all accounts, very much worthy of his draft position at the time of the 2015 draft. As a believer that every player should be given at least three years, I am leaving him out of the equation for right now but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention him and explain why.

And the winner is….

Despite the bad reputation that many of the above players have, including recent cut Marcus Smith, I think it has to be Danny Watkins. Watkins didn’t have any major injuries that severely impacted his play and, by all accounts, wasn’t a player who had high expectations unfairly dumped on him. He simply decided the game wasn’t for him. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say. Watkins may be a great guy and great firefighter, but as it pertains to NFL careers, Watkins is probably the biggest in recent Eagles history.

What do you think?

Poll

Who is the Eagles’ Biggest Recent Bust?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Mike Mamula
    (72 votes)
  • 4%
    Jon Harris
    (104 votes)
  • 4%
    Freddie Mitchell
    (101 votes)
  • 1%
    Shawn Andrews
    (41 votes)
  • 0%
    Victor Abiamiri
    (7 votes)
  • 61%
    Danny Watkins
    (1298 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaiquawn Jarrett
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    Nate Allen
    (18 votes)
  • 21%
    Marcus Smith
    (454 votes)
2111 votes total Vote Now