For four years, Andy Reid was a good little boy. The NFL told him where he would pick in the first round, and Andy obliged. It worked out pretty well for him, producing three Pro Bowlers and 4th and 26.
Then, Jerome McDougle happened.
It started a pattern of seemingly ineffective moves around the first round. The team usually acquires a Brinks truck of late-round picks every year, but have the early trades upward really been as bad as people perceive them? And has downshifting traditionally been the best move for the team? Let’s take a look by grading them on a scale from 1-5 McDougles, with 1 being “a totally defensible and overall very good move,” and 5 being “you just acquired Jerome McDougle.” And speaking of which…
2003 – Eagles trade their first and second round picks in 2003 (30th and 62nd overall) to San Diego for their first round pick in 2003 (15th).
Eagles’ haul – Jerome McDougle
Their haul – Sammy Davis , Terrence Kiel
It was understandable, really. Hugh Douglas was off to Jacksonville after the 2002 season, and the team was counting on a mix of N.D. Kalu, Brandon Whiting and coming-off-a-broken-foot Derrick Burgess at the defensive end spots. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s because it wasn’t.
Enter McDougle. The Eagles, who picked 30th, traded their second-round pick to swap their first-round pick for San Diego’s 15th and took their first Miami player since Jerome Brown. And after Burgess blew out his Achilles at the start of the season, McDougle had high expectations, fairly or unfairly.
Jerome McDougle has had more bullets in his body than he’s had NFL starts.
San Diego didn’t exactly made out like bandits with the two guys they got (Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel [RIP] were mediocre to below average at best), but McDougle has become the poster-child for Reid’s failures on the opening day of the draft. Grade: 5 McDougles
2004 – Eagles trade their first round and second round picks in 2003 (28th and 58th overall) to San Francisco for their first round pick in 2003 (16th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Shawn Andrews
Their haul –Chris Gamble (Carolina), Shawntae Spencer (San Francisco)
Andrews was an absolute monster, and one of my personal favorite early-round fantasy draft picks in Madden for years, before totally losing his mind in 2008. We may not be at liberty to judge exactly how much pain Andrews’ back put him through the last few years of his contract, but we can judge how properly his head was screwed in when there are more stories written about his music the last few years of his career than his football.
Chris Gamble’s career performance has traveled the proverbial roller coaster, but has played more good seasons than bad. Shawntae Spencer had that one good year and is now a Raiders nobody (a step below most NFL cornerback nobodies).
From 2005-2007, Andrews was an elite guard and a two-time Pro Bowler. But it’s amazing, even in the NFL, how a guy with three good years to his name got two different 6-plus-year contracts. Also, his presence cast a spell over the front office to trick them into signing his older, lazier, more crippled older brother. Grade: 2 McDougles
2005-2006 – Eagles do absolutely nothing, get Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley. Cool.
2007 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2007 (26th overall) to Dallas for their second, third and fifth-round picks in 2007 (36th, 87th, and 159th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley, C.J. Gaddis
Their haul – Anthony Spencer
The Kolb pick was less about his actual performance as an Eagle and more about what they got for him last off-season (DRC and another second-round pick). That worked out fairly well, actually. Nobody cares, because a few people booed him, so the entire city is somewhere below Libya on the "morality" scale, I guess.
Everyone lost their minds when the Eagles traded a pick to the Cowboys because Spencer was going to team up with Ware and overthrow the United Nations or something. He’s been fine, but nothing special.
Stew Bradley was at least the MLB-of-the-future-du-jour for a few minutes. C.J. Gaddis accidentally tackled a guy once when he played for the Bills. I’d also like to meet the 14 people who like C.J. Gaddis’ Facebook page. They’re probably great people. Grade – 3 McDougles
2008 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2008 (19th overall) to Carolina for their second and fourth-round picks in 2008 (43rd and 109th overall) and first-round pick in 2009.
Eagles’ haul – Trevor Laws, Mike McGlynn, Quintin Demps
Their haul – Jeff Otah
The Eagles kept moving down after this trade and ended up with Trevor “Breakin’ The” Laws. The Panthers jumped at the chance to get Jeff Otah, who formed a solid tackle tandem with Jordan Gross for a few years before Otah’s knees began to fail him.
The “Eagles’ Haul” list is a bit misleading – after all, even a one-legged Otah would be better than three backups who aren’t on the team anymore. However the Birds parlayed that first-round pick in 2009, along with a couple other choices, into Jason Peters, a worthwhile investment even if Peters is never the same/doesn’t play again after his Achilles surgery. Grade – 1.5 McDougles
2009 – Eagles trade their first and sixth round picks in 2009 (21st and 195th overall) to Cleveland for their first round pick in 2009 (19th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Jeremy Maclin
Their haul – Alex Mack, James Davis
James Davis has to be the only professional running back with less than 20 career rushing yards to leave a team because he was unhappy about his playing time.
Basically, this deal comes down to Mack vs. Maclin (headline-writer heaven), and that decision is a matter of personal preference/positional need. Mack made the 2010 Pro Bowl, albeit as a second alternate, and he’s regarded as one of the better centers in the league. Maclin oozes talent, but he’s yet to post a 1,000-yard season and had a couple boneheaded drops/turnovers last season. He’s still 23, so nearly anything could happen.
Still, it was a solid move based on the value – the Eagles jumped two spots and lost a sixth-round pick, which they have a million of every year (they drafted six times in round 5-7 that year). Did they need to? The Lions picked at 20, and even though Matt Millen was no longer embarrassing himself as the team’s GM (and was instead well on his way to embarrassing himself on national television again), you never know whether the Lions wanted a speed demon to pair with Megatron, or if they just wanted to see if they could wreck another first-round pick by using it on yet another receiver. Grade: 2 McDougles
2010 – Eagles trade their first-round pick and two third-round picks in 2010 (24th, 70th and 87th overall) to Denver for their first round pick in 2010 (13th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Brandon Graham
Their haul – Dez Bryant (Dallas), Ed Dickson (Baltimore), Eric Decker (Denver)
A quick recap of why this looks really bad right now:
· Jason Pierre-Paul blah blah blah
· The 24th pick the Eagles sent to Denver eventually wound up in Jerry Jones’ cold, dead hands, which he used to get Dez Bryant.
· When the Eagles moved up to 13, everyone in the world – well, all the Eagles fans I lived with at the time – was convinced they were going for Earl Thomas. Instead, they used their first two selections on Graham (who can't start anywhere now since the team signed Jason Babin) and Nate Allen (who was either never healthy last year or simply had trouble beating out Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum most of the season for playing time). Thomas has made a Pro Bowl and become a top-three free safety in the meantime.
· Not that this was the same exact thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade, but this was the exact same thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade.
· As a quick reminder, Jason Pierre-Paul. Grade – 5 McDougles
2011 – Fireman Dan. Did you know he was a firefighter? Because he used to be a firefighter.
To the judges:
Years the Eagles traded up: 3.5 McDougles
Years the Eagles traded down: 2.25 McDougles
What does it mean? Nothing. I averaged a bunch of scores on a fake scale that were determined subjectively by me in the span of a few hours. You’re all idiots for wasting your time reading this.
It means trading up for a guy that fills a position of need isn’t necessarily the best course of action, particularly when you don’t have any glaring positions of need. Of course, the Eagles do have two glaring positions of need flanking either side of DeMeco Ryans, but Claude Giroux will fire t-shirt cannons at a Nickelback concert before the Eagles take a linebacker in the first round.
Ahh….bad way to put it.
All the same, though, this seems like the ideal year to try and trade down, if anyone in the lower part of the draft wants to dive in. Let’s say, for example, that Ryan Tannehill starts falling down draft boards on Thursday for some reason. Cleveland, after taking some other schmuck at No. 4, sees a chance to make up for not getting RGIII. The Eagles just so happen to be on the clock. Let’s make a deal.
That’s just one of a few scenarios. And it would work a lot better than trying to move up again, if recent history is any indication.