The defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are a little over two weeks away from having the final pick of the first-round in this year’s draft. While they have never had the last pick before, in recent years General Manager Howie Roseman and his staff have made draft weekend one of the most exciting times for Eagles fans. Here are my top-10 Eagles draft picks of the last ten years (2008-2017).
- Jalen Mills (CB, LSU): 7th Round, 2016
Maybe the fog of this Super Bowl title is still clouding my judgement a little bit, but for what it is worth, Jalen Mills is without a doubt the best cornerback the Eagles have drafted in the last ten years. Since he was drafted in the very last round of 2016, Mills has been an immediate starter for the Eagles. Over the last two seasons, Mills has consistently been a reliable playmaker at a position that has haunted the Eagles since the days of Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. And if you don’t believe me as to how good Mills is, just go back and watch the last three plays from the 2017 NFC Divisional Round. Matt Ryan and the Falcons took three shots in the end-zone to Julio Jones, but no matter how much of a super hero Jones seems at times, on that night he was no match for the “Green Goblin”.
- Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri): 1st Round, 2009
It’s been a couple of years now since Jeremy Maclin has worn the midnight green, so people may forget just how explosive and reliable he was for the brief stretch of time he was here. In the 75 games he played for the Eagles, Maclin was able to haul in 343 catches for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns. When his contract expired in 2013, fans were devastated when new Head Coach and General Manager Chip Kelly decided to not re-sign the fan favorite wide receiver. Since his departure, Maclin’s career has never truly been the same. He has spent the last couple of seasons playing for the Chiefs and Ravens, but currently finds himself unemployed heading into the 2018 season. Despite this, his time in Philadelphia had enough impact to land him on this list.
- Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford): 2nd Round, 2013
It took a couple of years for Zach Ertz to truly get comfortable in the role he has now, but over the past couple seasons, he has been one of the best tight ends in all of football. He has established himself as one of the premier red-zone targets in the NFL and has become the go-to option for whomever is under center for the Eagles. Many fans were hesitant at first to recognize the former Stanford Cardinal as the starter over veteran Brent Celek. However, it his hard to argue with success. Since being drafted in 2013, Ertz has had 3,664 yards and 21 touchdowns in just 75 games. He is perhaps the most reliable part of the entire Eagles offense, and as the years go by, he should continue to climb his way up this list
- Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan): 1st Round, 2010
I remember specifically watching Brandon Graham being selected in the first-round in the 2010 NFL draft, as it was the first draft I watched where I was truly invested in what the Eagles were doing. I recall an analyst claiming that Graham was a future NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This was the most exciting thing to me, because it felt like the Eagles had somehow gotten one-up on everybody else. However, his first few seasons in the league were less than ideal to say the least. At one point, after his rookie deal had expired, most expected the former Wolverine to be released. Since that point though, Graham has made incredible strides in his game. He is now widely considered one of the best pure pass-rushers in the league and is seen making huge plays for the Eagles every Sunday. Perhaps the defining moment of his career came on one of the final plays of Super Bowl 52, where he strip-sacked Tom Brady to seal the Eagles first ever Super Bowl Championship. Graham still has plenty of gas left in his tank, and we may be just a couple seasons away from finally getting that DPOY award that he was prophesied with on draft day.
- Nick Foles (QB, Arizona): 3rd Round, 2012
The story of Nick Foles is a tale of two seasons. After sitting behind Michael Vick in 2012, Foles got a chance to show what he could do in 2013. During that year, Foles had one of the best regular seasons for any quarterback in the history of the game. He finished the regular season with an incredible 27-2 touchdown to interception ratio, which was good enough to earn him a Pro Bowl selection and be considered as a potential MVP candidate. However, the magical season came to a screeching halt in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, where the Eagles lost at home to the New Orleans Saints. Within the next three-years, Foles was traded to the St. Louis Rams and later the Kansas City Chiefs, where he almost quit football all together. However, in 2017 Foles was brought back to the Eagles to play backup for 2016 first-round pick Carson Wentz. In the middle of that season, Wentz went down with a season-ending ACL injury, and Foles was forced to lead the team. The Eagles finished that season as Super Bowl Champions for the first time in franchise history, and Foles was rewarded with the Super Bowl MVP trophy. The future for Foles is unclear, but no matter what happens from here on out, he has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play in the city of brotherly love.
- Jason Kelce (C, Cincinnati): 6th Round, 2011
In one of the more surprising entries on this list, Jason Kelce has already solidified his place as one of the top offensive lineman in the league. Since being drafted by the Eagles in 2011, Kelce has been a leader and mainstay along the offensive line. He became the first rookie in Eagles’ history to start all 16 games at center, is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was named the best center in football in 2013 and best offensive lineman in 2017 according to Pro Football Focus. Last season Kelce was also selected as a First-Team All-Pro for the first time in his career, capping the season off with a Super Bowl Championship and an iconic parade speech that will live in the minds and hearts of Eagles’ fans for generations. For a position that doesn’t get nearly enough media attention or exciting stats, Jason Kelce has done more than his fair share to secure his legacy in Philadelphia.
- Carson Wentz (QB, ND State): 1st Round, 2016
In perhaps the most controversial ranking on this list, current Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz finds himself in the top-half of the best Eagles draft picks of the last decade. Despite only playing in 29 career games for the Eagles, the North Dakota native has already made quite the impact in such a brief period. Upon starting all 16 games in his rookie season, Wentz looked like the absolute future of not just the Eagles, but the entire NFL. He followed up his incredible rookie campaign by leading the Eagles to the best record in all of football before tearing his ACL in week 10. Before this point Wentz was tied for the league lead in touchdown passes and was consistently putting on performances and making plays that would make the highlight reels in any era. For the first 56-years before Carson was drafted, the Eagles had failed to win a Super Bowl title. However, in just his second season, Wentz laid the foundation that would eventually get them their elusive championship. While he currently stands at number four on this list, there is no doubt in my mind that when it is all said and done, Wentz could and should be the clear number one when he decided to hang up his cleats.
- DeSean Jackson (WR, California): 2nd Round, 2008
Outside of quarterback, it’s very rare in the NFL to have a rookie come in and have such an immediate impact on a team the way DeSean Jackson did in 2008. Jackson came in and right away gave Donovan McNabb a clear number one target. His speed and route running were unlike anything the league had seen to that point, and week in and week out he gave opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. Through his time with the franchise, Jackson established himself as not only a fan favorite, but the best deep-threat in the game. Through 87 games, Jackson recorded 356 catches for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns. The reason Jackson ranks so high on this list has partially to do with the pure amount of iconic memories he produced for the franchise, but also his ability to stay at the top of his game since his departure in 2014. Since leaving, Jackson has gone on to play for the Redskins and Buccaneers and continues to be one of the best deep-ball targets in the NFL. While he may be on the tail end of his career now, don’t be too surprised if Jackson makes one more stint in the city that drafted him a decade ago.
- LeSean McCoy (RB, Pittsburgh): 2nd Round, 2009
You know that your draft pick worked out when they are almost immediately considered one of the very best at their position. That’s exactly what happened in 2009 with the drafting of LeSean “Shady” McCoy out of Pitt. Like Zach Ertz, when McCoy came onto the scene in 2009, many people were skeptical that he could fill the shoes of a fan favorite. However, it didn’t take long for the fans to realize that McCoy was more than capable of being the successor to Brian Westbrook. In his nine-year career, McCoy has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark six times, and continuously proves every year why he is one of the best running backs of his time. Had his tenure with the Eagles not been cut short by Chip Kelly, there is no doubt that McCoy would have been number one on this list, and perhaps the greatest Eagle of this generation.
- Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) 1st Round, 2012
For a tenure in Philadelphia that was short lived and filled with controversy, Chip Kelly’s first big decision as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was perhaps his best. The former college football innovator took Cox in the first-round of the 2012 draft, and Fletcher has been dominant ever since. Now recognized as one of the best defensive lineman in the game, he seems to only be getting better with age. His best year came in 2015 when he had 71 tackles and 9.5 sacks, but every year it seems he is finding new ways to get to the quarterback. While his legacy may not be as defined as the previous two players on this list, Fletcher’s longevity with the team is enough to make him the best draft pick the Eagles have had over the last 10 years.