The 2002 was definitely a success for the Eagles, producing four very good players that lasted on the team more than just a couple years. It was a bit surprising to see them go defensive back with their first three picks, but luckily, all three of them worked out and became regular starters at some point in their careers. Here are some notes on the 2001 draft, which was definitely a step back down in terms of talent:
1. WR Freddie Mitchell
There’s absolutely no way around it: Mitchell was a complete bust. It still boggles me to this day that they used a first round pick on him. Mitchell was bad in all four years with the team. He was the fourth receiver on the depth chart his rookie year behind a bunch of questionable players themselves, and he was never really able to move up. He only missed one game over his time with the team, but started only 17 of them, compiling 1,263 yards and five touchdowns. He never surpassed 500 yards in a season. Somehow, though, he was involved in some of the most memorable plays in Eagles history. He was on the receiving end of both the 4th and 26 play against the Packers and the play where Donovan McNabb scrambled around for over 14 seconds and bombed it down the field for a 60-yard pass on Monday Night Football. Before the Super Bowl against the Patriots in 2003, he criticized the opponent’s secondary, to which Bill Belichick called him “terrible.” For once, Belichick just says the truth. Oh yeah, and Mitchell sported the Fro-hawk at one point, which looked awful on him. That’s about it. Basically, he was a disaster of a player and was released in the offseason after his fourth year. He’s now in jail for tax fraud.
2. LB Quinton Caver
Caver was an even worse pick. He played in 16 games over one and a half seasons in Philly, recording just nine tackles in zero starts. He was so disappointing that the Eagles released him in the middle of his second season. He bounced around the NFL for a little while as a special teams guy, but never lived up to the hype of a second round pick and is probably up there for one of the worst picks during the Reid era.
3. DE Derrick Burgess
Burgess turned out to be a great player for a few years, but never when he was on the Eagles, which makes him a tough grade. Burgess spent four years on the team, having a solid rookie season with six sacks in 16 games and four starts. He then broke his foot in Week 1 of 2002 and missed the rest of the season, then missed all of 2003 with a torn Achilles. He started in 11 games in 2004, but only had 2.5 sacks and 19 tackles. He was not re-signed and was picked up by the Raiders, where he made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, leading the NFL in sacks in 2005 with 16. After five seasons away from the Eagles, they actually re-signed him to a two-year contract, but he played in just one game in 2010 and was released. It’s a shame he struggled with the Eagles and went on to have success elsewhere, but it’s unfair to give Reid credit for Burgess’ success considering it was never in Philly.
4. RB Correll Buckhalter
Like Burgess, Buckhalter’s career in Philadelphia was littered with injuries and disappointing performances. He had a solid rookie season, rushing for 586 yards and two touchdowns in six starts, but he tore his ACL in 2002 and missed the whole year. He then returned and had the best year of his Eagles career in 2003 with 675 total yards and nine touchdowns, but then tore his patellar tendon in back-to-back seasons, not playing again until 2006. He had three more seasons with the Eagles before entering free agency. He was randomly used as the primary kick returner in 2007, but only averaged 21.6 yards per return. He wasn’t bad, but he missed three whole seasons in eight years on the team, which is obviously disappointing, even for a fourth round pick.
5. TE Tony Stewart
Stewart, a fifth round pick, only spent one year with the Eagles, playing in three games and starting in one game. He actually scored a touchdown in his first ever game, but was never seen as an important player on the team and was placed on the practice squad in his second season. The Bengals then signed him off the practice squad, effectively ending his Philly career.
6. QB A.J. Feeley
Also a fifth round pick, Feeley seemed to always be finding himself in important games in an Eagles uniform throughout his career. In his rookie year, he played in just one game, Week 17, and threw for two touchdowns to lead the team to a come-from-behind win. In 2002, he started five games and finished with a 4-1 record at the end of the season to help the team earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Eagles traded him to the Dolphins after Feeley didn’t play in a game in 2003, and somehow got a second round pick out of Miami for him. Wow. After short stints in Miami and San Diego, the Eagles re-signed him and he played in five games for them from 2006-2007. He was later released after not playing a game in the 2008 season upon the arrival of Michael Vick.
It’s really hard to call this draft a success in any way. It only featured six picks, and the first two of them were horrible. Buckhalter and Feeley were average, but nothing special. Burgess didn’t ever succeed until leaving the Eagles, and Stewart only spent one year with the team. It’s not deserving of a failing grade, but it’s certainly close to that. This one was bad.
Draft grade: D
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