Ranking the top 20 picks for eagles over the past 20 years

The Philadelphia Eagles have had mixed success in the NFL draft, with some very good picks, and some terrible picks as well. On Tuesday we looked at the 20 worst picks for the Eagles in the last 20 years.

Today we’re going to take a look at their top 20 picks over the past two decades.

1) 2011: Jason Kelsey, C, Cincinnati Sixth round: The 2011 NFL Draft got off to a terrible start for the Eagles, with four players from that category landing in our 20 worst picks of the past 20 years. The only thing that saved this draft class from being among the worst in NFL history was Kelsey, a compact but very athletic center who has become the best player in his position in the league and is likely destined for the Hall of Fame. Oh, and he gave the greatest speech in the city’s history.

2) 2013: Lynn Johnson, OT, Oklahoma, 1st round: The 2013 NFL Draft was a disaster. Top 12 picks:

  1. OT Eric Fisher, Chiefs
  2. OT Luke Joeckel, Jaguars
  3. Jordan de Dion, Dolphins
  4. O.T. Lynn Johnson, Eagles
  5. DE Ezekiel ANSA, black
  6. De Barquis Mingo, Brown
  7. OG Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals
  8. WR Tavon Austin, Rams
  9. CBD Milner, Airplanes
  10. OG Chance Warmack, Titans
  11. OT DJ Fluker, Chargers
  12. CBDG Hayden, Raiders

EW. The Eagles got the best player in that group from long distances. A tip of the hat to the Dolphins for trading ahead of the Eagles and taking Dion Jordan in third overall.

3) 2012: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State, first round: Somehow, Cox fell out of the 2012 NFL Top 10, so the Eagles took the bold step of trading and getting him in the 12th pick. He was the top player on the team at various points in his career with the Eagles. .

4) 2018: Jordan Mailata, OT, without a kidney, 7th floor: Mailata was the pilot for all publications, an Australian rugby man who had never played an organized NFL game in his life when he was recruited by the Eagles in the seventh round. You all know the story Mailata broke out in 2020 with a very encouraging season, and took his game to the next level in 2021, when he was supposed to make the Pro Bowl but was overlooked. The scary thing is that we don’t know how high Mailata’s ceiling is, because he’s shown drastic improvement every year in the NFL so far.

5) 2005: Trent Cole, D., Cincinnati, 5th round: Cole ranks second on the all-time Eagles bag list, with a score of 90.5, behind only Reggie White. Obviously, it was a steal in the fifth round.

6) 2021: Defonta Smith, WR, Alabama, first round: Is it too early to put Smith at the top of the list, based on just one season, even if he breaks the Eagles’ rookie team record previously held by DeSean Jackson? Can. But I think we also have to look at the way down. If you remember, in March prior to that draft, the Eagles replaced the sixth overall pick with the Miami Dolphins in the 12th overall pick, the 2022 first-round pick, and going from the fifth-round to the fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft. In chart form:

got eagles Got dolphins
12 year selection 6 year selection
General Selection 123 (Fourth Round) in Draft 2021 156th overall pick (fifth round) in the 2021 draft
Miami selected for the first round of the 2022 draft

When the Cowboys were on the clock at the #10 pick, the Eagles’ chances of landing the remaining wide receivers worthy of the top pick (Smith) were in doubt. The Giants were sitting at pick number 11, and they were heavily rumored to be interested in Smith. Eagles were able to trade with cowboys before giants to land on their own. The cost was the Eagles’ second pick in the third round (84th overall), and it’s a reasonable cost to ensure the most likely last goal in the first round of a slam on the board.

Had the Eagles stayed in the sixth pick and picked Smith, that would have been an acceptable choice, though certainly not a coup. Instead, Rosman’s gambit scored Eagles a significant addition to the venture capital, as well as a potential blue chip receiver. A snapshot of what the Eagles gained and lost, from the time they had the #6 pick, until they picked Smith.

Eagles got… The eagles surrendered…
Defonta Smith Sixth overall selection (first round) in 2021
Miami selected for the first round in 2022 84th overall selection (third round) in 2021
123rd overall selection (fourth round) in 2021 156th overall selection (fifth round) in 2021

Oh, and then they switched that 2022 pick from Miami to a first-round pick in 2023, a second-round pick in 2024, and a third-round pick in 2022 in a deal with the Stupid Saints.

7) 2009: LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh, second round: Shady was arguably the best in the history of the Eagles, before Chip Kelly traded him because he didn’t like him.

8) 2016: Carson Wentz, Qatar, North Dakota State, first round: Wentz was the NFL player of the year during the 2017, before ripping the ACL and LCL against the Rams. By the time his season ended, he had led the team to a record 11-2, putting them in a great position to end their home ground advantage throughout the playoffs.

We’ve since learned that when Wentz faces adversity, he folds faster than Superman on laundry day, but it’s hard to blame the Eagles for not identifying that during the scouting process since his college runner-up gets into the National Championships every year. In case you’ve forgotten, Wentz was once a great player.


Wentz’s choice is still impressive to me for three reasons:

  1. Recognizing the need for a great quarterback: In the NFL, you either have a good quarterback, or you don’t, and if you don’t have very little chance of competing for a title unless you have a perfectly stacked roster otherwise. The Eagles recognized this need, and were determined to take down their man. That’s the easy part, but credit goes to the Eagles for realizing that Sam Bradford wasn’t the answer. It boggles my mind that many fans would have preferred to stay with Bradford rather than get aggressive in finding a new midfielder.
  2. Difficulty in trading is from 13 to 2: I still can’t believe the Eagles were able to climb from 13 to 8, and their cost was to get rid of the awful contract of Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso. From there, going from 8 to 2 was expensive, but it was worth it at the time. As an added bonus, the Eagles later sided in a position where the upstart Minnesota Vikings lost their quarterback of the season, and they traded the panicked for Sam Bradford, allowing the Eagles to reclaim two draft picks, including the first round.
  3. Evaluation: Brown didn’t think Wentz was a top 20 midfield player, so they traded the selection. The vultures thought he could be special. The Eagles were right, even if the window was only short.

Make no mistake – while Nick Foles won Super Bowl LII, it’s very likely the Eagles wouldn’t have been there even if they hadn’t traded for Wentz. I know there are some misguided fans who disagree with that sentiment, but for you folks, I’m going to ask this question: If you had the opportunity to go back in time and do things differently, you risk getting the Lombardy Trophy over the Eagles in the process, you?

We should also note that the Eagles still managed to overturn Wentz in the first and third round selections even after he was the worst starting player in the NFL in 2020.

9) 2012: Nick Foles, QB, Arizona, third round: While I see BDN more as a great free proxy acquisition than I make a great draft pick, I still think it deserves a prominent place on this list. As a draft pick, Foles had this magical season 27 TD, 2 INT, before dropping out and chasing the team to St. Louis with second-round pick Sam Bradford. Maybe we give extra points to the Eagles who draft him because his knowledge of Philadelphia aided his decision to come back here as a free agent?

10) 2013: Zach Erts, TE, Stanford, second round: Ertz was just 10 receptions shy of Harold Carmichael’s record when the Eagles traded him in the middle of the season last year. He is fifth in yards and seventh in touchdown receptions. He’s also been the go-to guy for many of the Super Bowl’s huge moments.

11) 2008: DeSean Jackson, WR, California, second round: Jackson has more TD receptions (27 of them!) than any other player in NFL history. His contributions as a deep threat with the Eagles were obvious, but he was also key in opening up short to medium areas of the field because opposing defenses often stopped their safety 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.

He was a great player for the Eagles, until Chip Kelly cut him off because he didn’t like him.

12) 2010: Brandon Graham, Michigan, first round: Graham may have made several “worst pick” lists for a number of years, with the Eagles choosing him over Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. As it turned out, Graham got off to a really good start on a defensive end and made the biggest defensive play in Eagles history. After the Flyers traded Claude Giroud, Graham became Philadelphia’s tallest athlete in the four major sports.

13) 2005: Todd Hermans, OL, Saginaw Valley State, 4th round: Selecting Herremans was just a good exploratory piece of work. The Herremans came from small state Saginaw Valley, and is still recruiting in the fourth round, despite his mediocre practice numbers. The Eagles had just seen what they thought was a good soccer player, and they took him in. Herremans ended up starting nearly a decade ago for the Eagles, in the versatile OT-OG role.

14) 2007: Brent Selleck, TE, Cincinnati, 5th floor: Celek was a very difficult player who refused to miss matches, and was a captain in the locker room. He’s the third-all-time tight-finisher on the Eagles yards list, right now anyway, until Dallas Guedert passes him by. On a side note, while Selleck has been a success story for Philly, it’s a bit ridiculous that the Eagles don’t give out his number.

061318 Galen Mills

15) 2016: Galen Mills, CB, LSU, 7th round: The unparalleled player had shaky moments with the Eagles at times, but he was the team’s CB1 during the Super Bowl run. While he may not have been as talented as some of the other players on this list, Mills definitely thought he was, which is a great trait for a cornerback. It is likely that Mills’ legacy will progress well in time.

16) 2018: Dallas Guedert, TE, South Dakota State, second round: I think there was some common sense in questioning the decision to craft another tight end this high when the Eagles already had Ertz on the roster, but Goedert has become a pretty good top-five tight end with no obvious holes in his game.

17) 2018: Josh Sweet, DE, Florida State, fourth round: The race was caught in the fourth round as he’s picked up 13.5 sacks in the past two seasons and could be on the cusp of taking the next step.

18) 2009: Jeremy MacLean, WR, Missouri, first round: McClain was thought to be a Top 10 in the 2009 draft, and when he fell into his late teens, Eagles applied to get it. McClain is sometimes considered a forgotten player in the history of the Eagles because he came after the NFC Championship debut and his career was short relative to the other top receivers, but he had some very good seasons, most notably in 2014, when he base streak from 85-1318-10.

19) 2013: Jordan Boyer, Southern, Oregon, 7th round: We’re kind of out of good options here, so let’s just note that the Eagles drafted Boer in the seventh round. Unfortunately, they didn’t recognize what was inside, because they cut it two months into the junior season. “Thank you very much,” Al Brown said, and demanded that he forfeit the concessions. Boyer ended up with a long and productive career with Brown and the Bills, including his first All-Pro team nod in 2021. We can also put Dion Lewis and Dennis Kelly in the bucket of Eagles recruits over the past 20 years who have gone on to be more productive with other teams.

20) 2006: Jason Avant, WR, Michigan, fourth round: Avant wasn’t fast and wasn’t much of a threat in play, but he had some of the best hands in the NFL during his 11-year career.

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