It’s that slow news time of the year, known as the gap between the draft and training camp. Which makes it an excellent time for a subjective list kind of an article that we can all argue over until there is some more interesting Eagles news!
The last time I did one of these it was the all-time ‘Eagles least-popular player at each position’ article, and it actually did pretty well…people seemed to like it and it got enough recs to make it into a feature article spot. So I thought I’d try another.
Fresh off the draft, I thought I’d do a draft-themed list, and eventually settled on this. First, I settled on some parameters:
First, and this is very important: This is not a ‘Worst player drafted in each round’ list. It is a ‘Worst draft decision by round’ list. This means I have weighed factors other than the player’s success (or lack of it) on the field. Things like circumstances, player’s behavior, players we could have had instead (admittedly hindsight is 20/20, but some cases simply transcend that argument), etc.
Next: I am aware that many of you will have differing opinions. At least I hope so. That’s kind of the point of this exercise. I’m hoping we can pull out as many funny/sad/interesting anecdotes about Eagles draft decisions as we can.
Lastly: I am staying with the first seven rounds going back to 1980, even though prior to 1994 there were 12 rounds from 1980 – 1992, and 8 rounds in 1993.
Trivia: The last 12th round pick the Eagles ever made was Brandon Houston, an Offensive Tackle out of Oklahoma in 1992. He never played in a single game in the NFL. The BEST 12th rounder the Eagles picked during this time period was probably safety Ray Ellis, from Ohio State, who was drafted in 1981 and played 5 years for the Eagles (plus 2 for Cleveland) and had 14 interceptions, including 7 in 1984.
So with that said, following is my list, based strictly on my opinion. As I said, yours may vary and I’d love to hear your stories and opinions. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of material to pull from.
Sadly, there were a lot of options here. But the 1983 draft contained probably the greatest collection of players ever to enter the draft in a single year. 25% of the players chosen in the first round are now in the Hall of Fame. There were also several All Pros and Pro Bowlers taken in the round. With the Eagles holding pick number 8, one would think that they were a pretty sure bet to get a good if not great player. John Elway (HOF) and Eric Dickerson (HOF) went 1-2, followed by:
Curt Warner (the running back, not Kurt Warner the QB) – 2x all-pro, 2x Pro Bowl
Chris Hinton – 3x AP, 7x PB
Billy Ray Smith – Defensive ROY
Jimbo Covert - HOF
Todd Blackledge - BUST
So it was the Eagles turn, and they were on the clock with several excellent possibilities such as:
Bruce Matthews - HOF
Jim Kelly - HOF
Joey Browner – 4X AP, 6x PB
Gill Byrd – 2X AP, 2X PB
Don Mosebar – 3x PB
Dan Marino - HOF
Darrell Green - HOF
"With the 8th pick in the 1983 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select Michael Haddix, Running Back, Mississippi State.
Haddix averaged 727 total yards from scrimmage, 9 catches, and 5 TDs per season at Mississippi State. He wasn’t especially fast, and while at 6’ 2" / 225 he had good size, he wasn’t very good at using it.
Even with a full, professional NFL scouting and personnel department, the team literally could have done better picking a name out of a hat. Haddix contributed a total of 3 TDs in six years, and still holds the NFL record for lowest average yards per rushing attempt (3.0). He was eventually converted to fullback, and in 1990 he signed as a free agent with Green Bay, where he lasted one year.
Meanwhile, the team had 32-year-old Ron Jaworski at QB, and no one waiting in the wings. Imagine if they had drafted Dan Marino or Jim Kelly? Hell, they could have even taken Ken O’Brien and had more to show for the pick.
In perhaps the greatest opportunity ever to draft a star player, the Eagles laid an egg.
So based on all of this, Michael Haddix is my guy for the Eagles worst 1st round pick.
Honorable Mention (sadly, there are many):
Kenny Jackson - WR- Jackson wasn’t even very good at Penn State, ending his not-so-illustrious senior season with a whopping 28 catches for 483 yards. So why would they think he’d be a good pro worthy of the 4th overall pick?
Danny Watkins – OG – Using a 1st round pick on a 26-year-old fireman is just inexcusable.
Kevin Allen -OT- cut after 1 season and wound up in jail for sexual assault. Meanwhile, 7 picks later Jerry Rice went to the Niners.
Marcus Smith DE – the result of some apparent draft head-butting between Howie and Chip Kelly. Ultimately no one got what they wanted.
Jalen Reagor - WR – EVERYONE knew the right pick was Justin Jefferson. Except us. ESPN broadcast a clip of the Vikings war room LAUGHING at us.
This one was a tough call between two different players - one on offense and one on defense. In both cases, the Eagles’ inability to see the color red when applied to a flag was the team’s undoing.
Siran Stacy, who was famously named by his mother after Saran Wrap (true story) was taken with the 48th pick in the 1992 draft. He was the Eagles first pick that year, having traded their first rounder to Green Bay during the 1991 draft to move up and take Antone Davis, starting a run of draft ineptitude by our beloved team that ran through a good part of the 90’s.
The report on Stacy was that he had the talent to succeed in the NFL, but also had bad character issues, dating all the way back to a number of criminal activities as a juvenile. THEN, on top of that Stacy suffered a serious knee injury at Alabama. So literally every other team took at least one hard pass on him until the Eagles were on the clock…
"With the 48th pick in the 1992 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select Siran Stacy, Running Back, Alabama.
Of course they did.
Harry Gamble and Joe Wooley apparently decided the flags weren’t red enough, and that he would outgrow them.
Before the season even started he was arrested for speeding, then later in the year was arrested again for assaulting his girlfriend. Stacy played in one game his rookie year, recorded no stats, and was cut, never to step foot on an NFL field again.
Bruce Walker – DT - Speaking of character issues, the team spent pick #37 on a guy who was suspended from the UCLA Bruins for being arrested on weapons charges. Three months later UCLA reinstated him. He promptly made it TWELVE WHOLE DAYS before he was arrested again – this time for possession of stolen property. He was subsequently suspended again, and that was the end of his UCLA career. Walker showed up for camp out of shape, was terrible, and didn’t show much interest in learning the playbook or even playing at all. He was cut before his first training camp was over.
Since Stacy was the team’s first pick in the 1992 draft, I give that pick the nod for worst 2nd round decision. But it was close!
Jaiquawn Jarrett – S – A massive reach in the 2nd round, Andy Reid intimated that he knew more about Jarrett than everyone else because Jarrett played at Temple - so the Eagles got to see more of him then all of the other teams…really??? REALLY??? Two words. VIDEO and TAPE. Easily the worst excuse for reaching on a pick I have ever heard.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside – WR – All you had to do was read anyone’s scouting report on him and you would have taken him off your board. The Eagles raved about his contested ball skills, but he only showed up there because he never got open, so ALL of his balls were contested. And this is before you realize that not only was he picked ahead of DK Metcalf, but he was also picked before Terry McLaurin.
This one was a little harder to settle on. For some reason the Eagles have had a bit of a Midas touch in the 3rdround, with guys like Nick Foles, Jordan Hicks, Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley, Fred Barnett to name a few.
But not every year. The awful 2014 draft had Chip Kelly’s hands all over it. Oregon bias was everywhere, including the 3rd round.
"With the 86th pick in the 2014 draft, the Oregon Du…I mean the Philadelphia Eagles select Josh Huff, Wide Receiver, Oregon."
Huff was a reach by about 3 rounds. But Chip Kelly was enamored with him from his time at Oregon. The story was that Kelly had a special bond with Huff and promised him he’d take care of him because Huff had a really bad childhood (drug addict mother, no father). It’s a nice sentiment, but an awful basis to make a draft selection.
Huff lasted 2 ½ seasons and was cut in 2016 after being arrested for speeding and weapons charges.
While not the worst player the team ever drafted in the 3rd round, it is the reasoning for the pick that makes me choose it.
Bobby Hoying – QB – Taking a QB in the 3rd round is just a wishy-washy commitment. If you need a QB, you do what you can to take the highest regarded prospect possible. Otherwise, you take a late round flyer on a project. But the Eagles really thought Hoying was going to be their QB of the future. He played 22 games for the team and had 11TD and 15 Int. with a record of 3-9-1. 1996 was an awful year for Quarterbacks, which made taking Hoying in the 3rd an even worse decision. In another year he’s have been a 5th round pick. They should have just looked elsewhere for a stop gap. Especially since TO was taken 4 picks later.
Bryan Smith – LB/DE -Using a 3rd round pick on a small and slow NCAA Division 1 player with 13 total sacks over 4 years in college is one of the more glaring examples of Andy Reid’s Smartest Guy in the Room Syndrome’ (SGITRS).
This one was tough for the opposite reason that the 3rd round pick was difficult. There were several worthy candidates. But when it all boils down to it, my final decision was fairly easy.
"With the 132 pick in the 2017 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select Donnell Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State."
What made this such a bad decision is not just this pick, but the sorry effort that the Eagles draft room put in leading up to the Pumphrey pick. The team needed a running back in the worst way. Ryan Mathews was cooked, and in fact never played again after the 2016 season. Darren Sproles was not a bell-cow back. That left Wendell Smallwood and Kenyon Barner (Ack!).
Fortunately this was an incredible draft for running back talent. With 8 picks, they could certainly replenish the position…right? Guys?......RIGHT???
Howie and his crew were laser-focused on Dalvin Cook out of Florida St. They took Derek Barnet in the 1st, then waited patiently for their 2nd round pick at number 43. Excitement filled the draft room when he was still there after Carolina picked Curtis Samuel. But then…TRADE! The Vikings traded up with the Bengals and leapfrogged us to steal him right out from under our noses. But here’s the kicker – Instead of shifting gears and taking maybe Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, James Conner…etc. The team punted. They curled up in a ‘If I can’t have Dalvin Cook then I don’t want anyone!’ fetal position and chose Sidney Jones and his torn Achilles tendon. Incredibly, the Bengals, who traded back with the Vikings so that Minnesota could jump the Eagles for Cook still wound up with Joe Mixon. And the Eagles? Having passed on all of the remaining good backs, they had to trade up in the 4th round (WITH THE FREAKING VIKINGS) just to draft Pumphrey, who at 5’ 9" and 176 lbs. never recorded an NFL stat. Talk about getting bitch-slapped…(fortunately payback to the Vikings later that year would be sweet).
Jack Ikegwuonu – CB – Awesome…burn a draft pick on a guy who missed his entire last season at Wisconsin due to a severe knee injury. He played in 1 game with the team registering no stats. He’s now in jail for armed robbery.
Alex Henery – K – Never, ever, EVER draft a kicker higher than the 7th round.
Damon Moore – S – A good player who was cut from the team for being involved in a dog fighting ring, which makes him a POS in my book.
ROUNDS 5 – 7
I’m kind of lumping these together because this story is getting long and Day 3 is always a crap shoot anyway. Still, I managed to find a qualified winner for each of these rounds.
Ricky Sapp – DE – Clemson
Taken in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, the pundits called the pick the biggest steal of the draft. But Sapp was mentally soft, didn’t like tough coaching and left the team. He came back but suffered a knee injury and missed the season. The next summer he came back and then left again. The word was he’d leave for a few days and then come back, and then do it again. The Eagles had enough and cut him. Sapp never actually played for the team. Clearly, he had some sort of issues. But once again the brain trust missed some significant character/mental issue in their pre-draft scouting. Sapp played 17 games over parts of 3 seasons between Houston and the Jets, and recorded 6 tackles. Incredibly, one of the most unmotivated players ever is today a motivational speaker.
Jeremy Bloom – PR/WR – Bloom was performing at the top level of his sport…which happened to be skiing. Another case of SGITRS. Good old Andy just couldn’t help himself. Of course Bloom was cut before the season started.
Thomas Hamner– RB – Minnesota
Hamner spent most of his first year on the practice squad, during which time he was arrested and charged several times with animal cruelty. He also missed multiple related court appearances. He was partners with Damon Moore in the dog fighting ring and was ultimately dumped by the team.
Raheem Brock – DE – Temple
Amazingly, there were no rapists, armed robbers, tennis players, animal abusers, or amputees selected in the 7th round. By nature, anyone who becomes a real NFL player after being drafted in the 7th round is a longshot. HOWEVER, I chose this pick for a different reason – ineptitude by the front office.
Drafted out of Temple in the 7th round of the 2002 draft and born and raised in Philadelphia, Brock was an excellent late-round grab. But after signing their other picks, the Eagles didn’t leave enough money under the cap to sign Brock, who was unwilling to sign a below-market value contract. So the only thing the team could do was cut him. The situation was so unusual, Brock’s agent had to call the NFL Players Association to find out whether other teams could claim him on waivers. He ultimately signed with the Colts and played in Indianapolis for 8 years followed by 2 years in Seattle, accumulating 40.5 sacks, 364 tackles, 16 fumble recoveries, 14 forced fumbles and 20 passes defended. Not bad for a 7th rounder. Granted the 2002 draft was a very good draft for the Eagles. But it would have been even better had they signed Brock instead of Tyreo Harrison, Freddie Milons, or Scott Peters.
These are my selections for the worst Eagles draft decisions by round. What are yours?