Looking back at Eagles draft classes: 2002 draft

After a slew of bad drafts by Andy Reid, including what was probably his worst one in 2003, the 2002 draft is a surprisingly good one, and could’ve been even better if they kept everyone on the roster. Here are some notes on it:

Important notes

Total picks: 8 (3 offense, 5 defense)
Notable picks: Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Brian Westbrook

1. CB Lito Sheppard

Sheppard was the first of a string of defensive backs taken in this draft, all of which turned out to be very good players. Sheppard’s one downside was his injury problems that prevented him from playing a full season in most of his seven seasons with the team, but he still excelled when he was out there. His 2004 season was his best, where he won All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors behind 52 tackles, five interceptions and two touchdowns. He also had six interceptions in 2006 despite playing in just 13 games. By 2008 he was falling in terms of talent and lost the starting job, and the Eagles traded him to the Jets for a fifth round pick in 2009. His career in Philly could’ve been even better, but he is one of the best cornerbacks the Eagles have had in the last 20 years.

2. S Michael Lewis

Surprisingly, the Eagles went defensive back with their next pick as well, selecting Lewis in the second round. Lewis started contributing immediately, playing in 14 games his rookie year and starting four, totaling 43 tackles, an interception and four forced fumbles. He then was the team’s starting strong safety for the next three and a half years, putting up very solid stats both in coverage and run-stopping, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2004. Lewis struggled in 2006 though, losing the starting job to Sean Considine, and he was eventually released. He ended up playing well as a starter for the 49ers for three seasons, so it’s a shame they gave up on him so early. Either way, he was also a very talented player for the team while he was around.

3. CB Sheldon Brown

I really can’t believe it, but the Eagles took a third straight defensive back, going with Brown with their other second round pick. Brown didn’t miss a single game in the eight seasons he played in Philly and started 98 of them. He was a backup mostly in his first two years, but he impressed the coaches and went on to be a starter for the next six seasons. He finished his Eagles career with 349 tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and 19 interceptions, five of which came in his final season with the team in 2009. He was eventually traded to the Browns, where he was a starter for three seasons. The duo of Brown and Sheppard was a great one for multiple years.

4. RB Brian Westbrook

Man, Reid just couldn’t miss with picks in this draft. Westbrook was taken in the third round and is widely considered to be a favorite among Eagles fans. He wasn’t just a fan favorite though, Westbrook was one of the best running backs in Eagles history. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. He was an excellent punt and kick returner in 2003, when he first won the starting job halfway through the season. He did deal with a lot of nagging injuries here and there and never played in a full season with the team, but he still played in 107 games over eight years. He finished with 5,995 rushing yards and 3,790 receiving yards, eclipsing the 2,000-yards-from-scrimmage mark in 2007 and almost in 2006. Westbrook’s injuries eventually were too much for the Eagles after he only played in eight games in 2009 and he was released.

5. C Scott Peters

Well, I guess Peters is the first nobody in this draft class. He was taken in the fourth round, but never played for the team in his one season on the roster. He was eventually released before bouncing around the league for a couple more years.

6. WR Freddie Milons

Milons, a fifth round pick, broke his fibula in his rookie year and missed the whole season. He was then traded the next offseason to the Steelers for a conditional pick, but since Milons never appeared in a game for Pittsburgh, the Eagles never received a pick.

7. LB Tyreo Harrison

Harrison was taken in the sixth round and played in 14 games over two seasons with the Eagles, recording three tackles overall. He was then released before the next year.

8. DL Raheem Brock

Wow, imagine how good this defense could’ve been from this draft class alone if they kept Brock. While the last three picks were random guys, Brock will likely be a bit familiar to the average football fan. The Eagles actually drafted Brock in the seventh round, but they released him even before the preseason because they “couldn’t fit him into the rookie salary cap.” Well, that was certainly a mistake, considering they kept the previous three picks and they did nothing in the NFL. Brock finished his career with 255 tackles, 40.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles over his career, but not a single one of them was for the Eagles. What a shame.

Despite the mishap in not keeping Brock, the top four players alone were enough to call this draft a success. While both Brown and Lewis were let go a bit too early and had success after the Eagles, they all still had a great impact on the Eagles. It’s a good thing this draft had some real talent in it after the garbage that was in their 2003 class.

Draft grade: B

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