The 2001 draft class was another less than productive crop of players that were selected by the Eagles. The first overall pick was Michael Vick to the Falcons who obviously went on to play for the Eagles later in his career. Also selected in the first round were Justin Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Santana Moss, Steve Hutchison, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Wayne. Four players from the University of Miami were selected in the first round: Moss to the Skins, Dan Morgan to Carolina, Damione Lewis to the Rams, and Reggie Wayne to the Colts. The Eagles under Andy Reid came off the 2000 campaign in which they lost to the Giants in the divisional round. However, they were a team on the rise with McNabb at quarterback and an emerging defense. This draft class did not help forward that process. With the 25th pick in the 2001 NFL draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected…
- Freddie Mitchell- Wide Receiver (UCLA)
FredEx as he dubbed himself was a player who rose up draft boards prior to the draft in large part to the 4.4 40 yard dash he ran. Unfortunately, it was the Eagles who selected him in the 1st round. Mitchell was coming to a team badly in need of wide receivers with starters Todd Pinkston and James Thrash not cutting it. Whether it was his attitude or lack of physical ability Freddie never quite got it here in Philly. A few games here and there he would show flashes, but nothing worth the spot where he was taken in the draft. He is probably remembered most for the 4th and 26 catch he made against the Packers in the divisional round of the 2003 playoffs that saved the season. He also had two touchdowns the following season against the Vikings in the divisional round on the way to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Patriots. Mitchell finished his Eagles career with 90 catches, 1,263 yards and 5 touchdowns hardly what a first round wide receiver should be producing. FredEx was released on May 6th after holding out from mini camp. He had a few legal troubles later in life as he’s currently serving a sentence for tax fraud. Reggie Wayne was selected by the Colts at pick 30 and Chad Johnson went to the Bengals with pick 36. The Eagles missed badly on this pick.
- Quintin Caver- Linebacker (Arkansas)
Big Red never placed much importance on the linebacker position during his time here. This pick is probably the best evidence as to why. Caver was selected with the 55th pick in the 2nd round out of Arkansas. He was a complete bust for the two seasons he played with the Eagles. He played in only 16 games, starting none of them, and registered only 9 tackles during that time. Caver was coming into his rookie season with established players at his position such Jeremiah Trotter, Carlos Emmons, Mike Caldwell and Ike Reese that could help the rookie get adjusted. Between his injuries and lack of ability to pick up the NFL quickly he never amounted to anything. He went on to play for the Chiefs and Cowboys, but did little to nothing in those spots as well. Also selected earlier in the 2nd round were Drew Brees, Alge Crumpler, Chad Johnson, and Matt Light.
- Derrick Burgess- Defensive End (Mississippi)
Burgess was the first pick of the 3rd round at number 63. His rookie year went well enough he appeared in all 16 games and recorded 6 sacks. However, the next two seasons didn’t go quite as well for the Ole Miss product. He broke his foot the first game of the 2002 season and missed the entire season. The following year in 2003 he missed the entire season again due to a torn Achilles. He returned in the Super Bowl season of 2004 where he started 12 games, but only registered 2.5 sacks. He showed up big in the postseason, though, where he recorded 3 sacks and had the only Eagles sack against Tom Brady Super Bowl XXXIX. Burgess left as a free agent before the 2005 season and signed with the Raiders. His first two years in silver and black went great he had 25 sacks and made the Pro Bowl both years. Burgess was traded to the Patriots before the 2009 season and played one year there before returning to play in one late season game for the Eagles against the Vikings in 2010. He was later released. Burgess was a good talent in the 3rd round he could never consistently stay on the field and remain healthy. The pick right after Burgess was Adrian Wilson to the Cardinals. Wilson would have been a nice physical safety to pair along with Brian Dawkins. Wilson went on to become a five time Pro Bowler and made the All Pro team three times during his career. He was also a member of the Cardinals team who defeated the Eagles in the 2008 NFC title game. Just to add more salt to the wound eleven picks after Burgess the Panther selected wide receiver Steve Smith. Smith is still doing his thing in the league today and would have been a great weapon for Donovan McNabb to have at his disposal.
- Correll Buckhalter- Running Back (Nebraska)
Buck was taken with the 121st pick in the 4th round out of Nebraska. He showed the type of potential he had in his rookie year when he teamed with Duce Staley in the backfield. Buckhalter broke Keith Byars rookie rushing yardage record for the franchise. He returned to action 2003 pairing with Staley again and exciting rookie Brian Westbrook to form a balanced three headed backfield. Buck led the team in rushing attempts and rushing touchdowns that year with eight. Unfortunately, injury struck again as he tore up his knee in a preseason game against the Ravens before the 2004 season. He missed both the ’04 and ’05 seasons with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. Buckhalter returned for the 2006 season and played three more seasons for the Eagles after that managing to stay healthy for the most part. In February of 2009 he signed a four year $10 million contract with the Broncos. He arguably had his best season that year totaling highs in yards and yards per carry. He fell back into a reserve role in 2010 and was cut by the Broncos in July of 2011. Buck was always one of my favorite running backs because of his running style. He was also effective in the receiving game and contributed to special teams as well. It’s just unfortunate he never reached his full ability due to the knee injuries. Another notable 4th round selection was Jesse Palmer selected by the Giants. You may know him from the tv show The Bachelor since his NFL career never amounted to anything.
- Tony Stewart- Tight End (Penn State)
Stewart only lasted one season with the Eagles and did not make much of an impact. Chad Lewis was the Eagles top tight end at the time and quite possibly the best receiving option on the team period. The Penn Stater was drafted 147th overall and finished his rookie season with 5 catches for 52 yards including one touchdown. He went to the Bengals practice squad in the beginning of the 2002 season and played there until the 2006. He finished his career with the Raiders playing 2007-10 for Oakland. Two selections later at number 149 the Lions selected quarterback Mike McMahon who would play one unforgettable year with the Eagles years later.
- AJ Feeley- Quarterback (Oregon)
Eight spots after the Eagles drafted Stewart they selected Feeley with the 155th pick. He came off the bench in the 2001 season finale and threw two touchdowns in his only appearance. The following season he was forced into action after McNabb and Koy Detmer went down. He led the team to four straight wins and secured the number 1 seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs when McNabb returned. Feeley did not play a snap in 2003 and in March 2004 was traded to the Dolphins. The Eagles received back Miami’s 2005 2nd round pick which they eventually used to select wideout Reggie Brown, who didn’t exactly set the league on fire either. Feeley only played a year and a half with Miami before being traded to the Chargers midway through 2005. He returned to Philly before the 2006 season and started a few games during the 2007 season where his turnover problems reared their ugly head. He was released by the team in September 2009 to make room for Michael Vick. Feeley finished his career with the Rams 2011. He finished his career with 28 touchdowns to 31 interceptions. The 2nd round pick they later acquired for Feeley was a great trade by the Eagles, but the ensuing selection of Reggie Brown was not. However, he was way better than Mike McMahon was selected six spots ahead of him in the 5th round so he has that going for him.
Overall Grade: C-
The only reason this grade was bumped up to C- were the later round picks of Buckhalter and Feeley with Burgess included as well. While Buckhalter and Burgess struggled to stay healthy they were still solid picks at the position where they were selected. Freddie Mitchell and Quintin Caver were terrible picks. Having Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith go later in the draft than Mitchell really hurt the Eagles. Caver gave them zero production from a 2nd round pick as well on a team that was Super Bowl contenders. That season they wound up as many of us remember losing to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. If Buckhalter and Burgess could have remained healthy they potentially would have increased this 2001 draft grade. The following year’s draft is when Andy Reid hit it big.
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