Looking back at Eagles draft classes: 1999 draft

This will be the final draft I’ll analyze as a part of this series. The 1999 draft was Andy Reid‘s first, at at the time, a very controversial one. The Eagles had a great pick in the draft, but selected Donovan McNabb instead of Ricky Williams, which was criticized heavily by fans at the time. Of course, that opinion changed over time, but it was quite a way to start a career as a head coach in city like Philadelphia. Here are some quick stats:

Important notes

Total picks: 10 (7 offense, 3 defense)
Notable picks: Donovan McNabb, John Welbourn

1. QB Donovan McNabb

It seemed like every Eagles fan in America wanted their team to select Ricky Williams with the second overall pick. Well, new head coach Andy Reid went with Syracuse QB Donovan McNabb instead, leaving a lot of fans angry and speechless. Now, the pick looks genius. While Williams eventually fizzled out due to drug problems, McNabb had an excellent career in midnight green. He is the best quarterback in Eagles history. There’s really no way around it. Some will criticize him for not winning a Super Bowl, but no quarterback in Eagles history has done that. McNabb was the primary starter for 10 of his 11 years with the team, taking them to the Super Bowl in 2004 and earning Pro Bowl honors six times. He’s the only quarterback to start all 16 games in a season for the Eagles in the last 30 or so years. That’s saying a lot. He finished his Philly career with 32,873 passing yards, 216 touchdowns and just 100 interceptions. He had double digit wins in five of the seasons he was with the Eagles despite battling through injuries often. Sure, he couldn’t do it all, but he played the quarterback position better than anyone in the history for this franchise, and that alone is a tremendous accomplishment in which Reid deserves a lot of credit for. He didn’t give into the pressure. He could’ve selected guys like Akili Smith or Cade McNown, other quarterbacks taken after McNabb in the first round who both had awful careers. There seems to be too much bitterness when it comes to McNabb and Reid. Give them some credit, they’re the best Coach-QB duo in Eagles franchise history.

2. LB Barry Gardner

Unfortunately, after McNabb is where the good draft essentially ends. Gardner, a second round pick, was yet another poor linebacker selected in the Reid era. He started 13 games for Philly in 2000, but was mostly used on special teams throughout his career and wasn’t re-signed after his four-year rookie contract expired. He finished his Eagles career with 122 tackles and two sacks.

3. G Doug Brzezinski

Brzezinski, whose name I couldn’t pronounce if my life depended on it, wasn’t any better of pick. Taken in the third round, he started every game at left guard his rookie year, but started just six games combined over the next three years. Like Gardner, he wasn’t re-signed after his rookie contract expired after four years.

4. G/T John Welbourn

Welbourn was really the only other relatively talented player that came out of this draft class. He started all 56 games he played for the Eagles in his five years with the team. He was the primary starter at left guard for the final four years with the team before being traded to the Chiefs for a third and fifth round pick. Those picks turned into Thomas Tapeh and Ryan Moats, so you could say the trade didn’t really work out in their favor.

5. S Damon Moore

Moore, a fourth round pick along with Welbourn, played three seasons with the team, starting at safety in all 16 games from 2000-2001. He finished his Eagles career with 138 tackles and five interceptions, but was later released. He played one year with the Bears before ending his NFL career.

6. WR Na Brown

It somehow took Reid almost a decade to draft a talented receiver. Brown was the first one he took in his long time with the franchise, but he was bad. In three years on the team, he made nine starts in 42 games and totaled 363 yards and two touchdowns. Those are pretty weak stats. He was then released, for what I can only guess was mediocre play.

7. FB Cecil Martin

Like most of these guys, Martin never made it past his rookie contract with the Eagles. It’s kind of hard to judge a fullback based on his stats since he’s usually expected to focus on blocking, but just for the heck of it, he had 594 total yards and two touchdowns over his Eagles career. He started in 38 of 60 games he played in and spent one season with Tampa Bay afterwards.

8. WR Troy Smith

Reid is now officially 0/2 on wide receivers. Smith played in just one game in one season with the team, catching one pass for 14 yards. Then that was it. He never played in the NFL again.

9. TE Jed Weaver

Weaver apparently was successful enough to earn All-rookie honors in 1999 as primarily a blocking tight end. He started 10 games that year and had 11 catches for 91 yards. That was the only year he played in Philadelphia. He then went on to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots against the Eagles in 2004, so for him, I guess the joke’s on Philly.

10. DT Pernell Davis

Davis was taken in the seventh round and played in just two games in his only year with the team. I really don’t know, or care, what happened to him after that.

This is probably the hardest draft I’ve had to grade throughout this whole series. McNabb was probably the best pick Reid made while he was with the Eagles, but the rest of the draft was pretty bad. Kind of ironic that his first pick was the best, right? Other than McNabb, no player lasted more than five seasons with the team, and only Welbourn really did anything worth mentioning among the nine not-McNabbs. In the end, McNabb’s greatness and the rest of the draft’s failure kind of balance out, but sometimes it’s still worth it to get a franchise quarterback, even if the rest of the draft doesn’t pan out.

Draft grade: B-

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