With the draft drawing every closer and everyone speculating who is going to be taken where?, Who's going to move up?, Who's going to be the biggest winner?, etc, etc, etc... I thought it would be fun to look at the recent 1st round draft history of the Eagles and see how things could have turned out for Philadelphia. I'll start back at where I think the Eagles started to slide with regard to how they drafted (2007) and move forward.
Each year will be broken down like this:
1. History: Who we actually took and how they seemingly panned out.
2. Coulda: Who I think the Eagles should have targeted that year (focusing on the players available where where they picked), and then ultimately who I think they should have taken.
3. Woulda: Who the break out player was closest to where the Eagles actually had the ability to choose (roughly ten or so picks behind where the Eagles pick).
4. Shoulda: Just for fun a look at a player who was a late round pick or even undrafted who the looking back I wish the Eagles took a shot on.
No before everyone bites my head off and starts talking about the butterfly effect and altering the time space continuum I'm going to lay out how it's going to be done. First, we're going to assume that the Eagles draft spots from year to year didn't change. I'm not going into how these picks would have impacted the team in the past I merely want to see how the roster might look entirely different today. Secondly, I have the right to reverse any trades for 1st round picks. I know that alters who the Eagles would choose later but i'll make explanations as to how it effects the team or doesn't. Lastly, I'm going to assume that the Eagles made the majority of off-season acquisitions, unless I think a pick would have made an acquisition obsolete. AGAIN this is just for fun so try not to take this post too seriously.
Starting at 2007
History: The Eagles entered the draft with the 26th overall pick but traded it to Dallas for a 2nd (Kevin Kolb), a 3rd (Stewart Bradley), and a 5th (C.J. Gaddis).
Coulda: I really wanted the team to target an offensive linemen in this draft. We had Tra Thomas, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Shawn Andrews, and John Runyan starting the previous year and I thought it was time to prepare for the departure of our aging tackles and possibly upgrade our center. So I really thought the two guys they should have been focusing on when they were on the clock were OT Joe Staley and OG Ben Grubbs. Given the fact that Andrews was hadn't had his breakdown yet and Herremans was still young I pick Joe Staley.
Woulda: Looking at the guys selected around the 26th pick I think the woulda pick would also have to be Staley. He's a 2x Pro-Bowler, and a 2x All Pro.
Shoulda: Ahmad Bradshaw, selected 250th overall in the 7th round he has became a solid back for the NY Giants. I think he would have complemented Westbrook and ultimately McCoy nicely, and additionally we would have avoided having to do with that Earth, Wind, and Fire trio in NY.
History: Again the Eagles traded out of the 1st round for the second time in a year. This time it was the 19th overall pick going to Carolina for their 2nd (traded again), 4th (Mike McGlynn), and 2009 1st round pick (28th).
Coulda: I again had the Eagles targeting some offensive linemen in Jeff Otah, Duane Brown and Sam Baker after Joe Staley stepped up to fill as Tra Thomas departed, and it was clear the writing on the wall was there for John Runyan. After thinking about Curtis Lofton at LB and Brandon Flowers to take over for the unhappy Sheldon Brown I decided to go with Duane Brown.
Woulda: I go back and forth between Brown, Flowers, and Lofton. The defense was still in it's good years then so I'll stick with Brown. He's gone on to make the Pro-Bowl as well as earn both 1st and 2nd team All-Pro honors.
Shoulda: Peyton Hillis, taken in the 7th (227) overall by the Denver Broncos he broke out onto the scene as a physical fullback who could be utilized for more then just blocking. Remeber how nice it was when Reid had Leonard Weaver? We'll could have had Hillis a year earlier.
History: '09 was actually one of the better drafts for the Eagles. They traded up from 21 to 19 to select Jeremy Maclin. Maclin has been solid for the Eagles since being drafted and despite his health scare in 2011. On a side note, the Eagles struck gold in the 2nd round when then grabbed LeSean McCoy who has broken out and took over for Westbrook nicely. Also, Jason Peters would not be joining the Eagles because in 2008 we would not have traded our 1st round pick which later turned to the 28th overall pick used to acquire Peters from Buffalo. No matter we already drafted our two bookend tackles.
Coulda: This was a year a lot of fans were clamoring for Reid to draft another WR for Donovan to target even though I was among them I was eyeing other guys as well. It was unclear if Shawn Andrews was going to bounce back from his injury/depression, but at the time I think most expected him to return to his Pro-Bowl form. Alex Mack I saw as a guy who would solidify our offensive line. I also was checking out Vontae Davis to beef up our secondary, but we also brought in Ellis Hobbs to do that. While I did like Maclin I liked Percy Harvin a lot better. I liked the way DeSean Jackson was used and thought Harvin played almost as fast and thought that he and DJ would be nightmarish for teams to cover. Not to mention he'd give us another outstanding return man. So my pick goes to Percy Harvin.
Woulda: Seeing how every on turned out Alex Mack would have been the clear choice. We'd have gotten our franchise center, he's made the Pro-Bowl, and when Shawn Andrews couldn't resolve his issues we wouldn't have taken as big of a hit as we did. Imagine what'd he'd look like next to Joe Staley, (a questionable) Shawn Andrews, Todd Herremans, and Duane Brown WOW!
Shoulda: The obvious choice here is Arian Foster. Now think about that McCoy starting, Westbrook still on the roster, AND Foster. Defense wouldn't get winded before the half trying to chase these guys all over the field. If only Andy Reid would run the ball.
History: Still unknown here if this was a good 1st round pick of not. So far everything says no. Brandon Graham was selected 13th overall after the Eagles jumped up ahead in the draft again! This time from 24th when the traded with Denver.
Coulda: There were a TON of guys I liked in this years draft, and I got giddy after hearing that the Eagles had traded up. Jermaine Gresham, Mike Lupati, Sean Weatherspoon, Maurkice Pouncey, Dez Bryant, and dare I say it... the clear heir to the Eagles QB throne TIM TEBOW!!! (Just kidding back to reality). But the guy I really wanted, the apple of my eye in this draft Earl Thomas. With Dawkins gone, and with him the heart and soul of the defense, as the Eagles move on they move on with Earl Thomas.
Woulda: Maurkice Pouncey I think was the best player selected in the 10 pick limit after the Eagles drafted, butI think the obvious pick is still Earl Thomas. He's a defensive leader, a 2x Pro-Bowler, a 2x All-Pro, and the best replacement for Brian Dawkins. Nothing more to say.
Shoulda: It's clear that the shoulda pick for this year is Victor Cruz. He absolutely exploded onto the scene in New York and has since become an NFL sensation from his play to his touchdown dance. He would have been huge for the Eagles receiving corps.
History: This year's 1st round pick left me scratching my head. I know the Eagles have a hole at guard so I understood taking one. I just didn't get why Danny Watkins. So far he's been a bust, but there's still a chance he can turn it around. That wasn't my biggest concern, mine was that he was 27.
Coulda: For me this was a no brainier when I saw who was available at 23. QB Andy Dalton. With Kolb being traded to Arizona and Vick struggling last season made it clear we needed a plan for the future and we got it in Dalton.
Woulda: Jimmy Smith/Colin Kaepernick. CB Jimmy Smith would have provided the Eagles with depth at CB but with Samuel, Asomugha, and Rodgers-Cromartie on the roster it seems like a waste to use a first round pick on on. Kaepernick is obviously a woulda pick just based of what he did this past year in San Francisco. It's clear that he's very talented but we got Dalton instead.
Shoulda: I went all the way up to the 6th for my shoulda pick and there's two there DJ Smith (186th) and Jacquain Williams (202nd) both these LBs did really well for their teams in for 6th rounders. The Eagles linebackers have always been a point of weakness and taking a chance on one of these guys would have pay off.
History: It's too early to tell how well the Eagles did in this draft. Flectcher Cox (taken 12th overall) has shown quite a bit of promise in his rookie debut registering 5.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
Coulda: The offense is seemingly now set, the defense however has struggled. Dre Kirkpatrick was a guy I was high on because of the poor secondary play. Michael Brockers, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram were all defensive linemen I was eyeing (along with Cox). I also considered David DeCastro at guard, but in the end I think I would have taken Fletcher Cox again he was the guy I was highest on last year when the Eagles we on the clock and I'm still just as high on him now.
Woulda: Could probably argue one way or another but I'm again sticking with Fletcher Cox.
Shoulda: This was EASY for me. It was a guy I was high on from the time the draft started being debated. Vontez Burficit. I liked the way he played from day one, he played mean and angry and I thought could be an immediate starter for the Eagles. His draft stock plummeted because of issues both on and off the field but I still thought a 5th round pick for a guy who was considered one of the best available linebackers in the draft AND was originally projected as going as high as top 5!!! Turns out we could have got him for a 7th, and man oh man did he prove people wrong.
Having made smarter draft picks clearly would have left the Eagles in a much better position then what we are currently in. Heck it may have even saved Andy Reid's job. So what Coulda our team looked like today? (I know there's some questions as to what the defense will look like so don't beat me up for how I list players here). Just by going on the coulda picks let's see:
QB: Andy Dalton
HB: LeSean McCoy
Hback: James Casey
WRs: DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin
OTs: Joe Staley, Duane Brown
OGs: Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans
C: Jason Kelce
DEs: Trent Cole, Brandon Graham
DTs, Fletcher Cox, Issac Sopoaga
LBs: Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks
CBs: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher
SS: Patrick Chung
FS: Earl Thomas