The lackluster 2001 draft by the Eagles was followed up by one of their more successful drafts in the past decade in 2002. The team was coming off a great season ending in defeat to the Rams in the conference title game. They were most certainly a team on the rise. The 2002 draft featured five University of Miami player selected in the first round. In order it went Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed and Mike Rumph. David Carr went number 1 overall to the expansion Texans. Other notable first round picks include Julius Peppers at 2, Dwight Freeney at 11, and Albert Haynesworth at 15. With the 26th selection in the 2002 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected..
Lito had big shoes to fill coming out of Florida. He was eventually going to replace mainstays Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor who had formed a terrific pairing over the years leading up to that draft. Sheppard played in 12 games his rookie year then started all 16 the following season. His best season as an Eagle was 2004 when he had five interceptions and made the Pro Bowl. His career high in interceptions was six in 2006. He possessed big play ability evidence from his three pick sixes in midnight green, two of which came against the Cowboys which will always make you a fan favorite. He played in 93 games for the Eagles and totaled 19 interceptions during that time. He was traded to the Jets in February 2009 after Asante Samuel was brought in as a free agent and his playing time was drastically reduced. He went on to play for the Vikings and Raiders before retiring after the 2011 season. Lito was selected right before the 49ers took Mike Rumph at pick 27 who was a bust at cornerback. Unfortunately, Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed went two selections before at number 24.
Lewis was taken by the Eagles with the 58th pick in the 2002 draft. His physical style of play at the safety position fit in well with Brian Dawkins at the beginning of his career. He became a full time starter in 2003 and the following season was named to the Pro Bowl as well the All-Pro Team. His struggles began in the 2006 season where he was giving up far too many big plays to remain the starter at safety opposite BDawk. He was replaced by Sean Considine who was the polar opposite of physicality from Lewis. He signed with the 49ers after the season on a free agent deal. Lewis finished his Eagles career playing in 76 games totaling 6 sacks and 9 interceptions during that time. He played in San Fran until the 2010 season when he was released in October and latched on with the Rams to finish out his career at the end of the year. Other safeties that were drafted in 2002 include Roy Williams to Dallas, Ed Reed to Baltimore and Chris Hope to Pittsburgh. Lewis was a solid selection at 58 and a nice contributor to the Eagles.
Brown was taken with the very next pick after Lewis at 59 in the 2nd round. He would team with Lito Sheppard for years to come as the new starting cornerback tandem after Troy and Bobby. Brown only started three games his first two seasons on the team. However, from 2004-2009 he started 95 games over that time and was one of the most consistent corners in the league. He had 19 interceptions and five return touchdowns during his time as an Eagle. The hit Brown delivered on Saints running back Reggie Bush during the 2006 playoffs sticks in many Eagles fans minds as to how vicious it was. The Eagles traded Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong to the Browns in 2010 for draft picks. He retired in 2012 finishing his career with 26 interceptions. Among the other cornerbacks selected in that draft include Quentin Jammer to the Chargers and Phillip Buchanon to the Raiders. Brown and Sheppard can definitely be considered the top two corners taken in that 2002 draft.
By far the best player selected in this Eagles draft class and one of the best running backs in Eagles history. The dynamic Villanova running back was a steal in the 3rd round where the Eagles selected him with the 91st pick. Westbrook was lethal out of the backfield and once he picked up starter duties beginning in the 2004 season he was one of the best running backs in the league during that time period. BWest made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team twice during his time with the Eagles. From 2002-09 he had 5,995 rushing yards with 37 rushing touchdowns. In addition and probably even more impressive he had 426 receptions for 3790 yards and 29 receiving touchdowns as an Eagle. He is truly one of the great two way weapons coming out of the backfield in NFL history and all around great team guy. Unfortunately, his career was sidetracked due to nagging knee injuries and eventually concussions which he tried to battle through. He was released by the Eagles after the 2009 season which was a difficult decision. Westbrook finished his career with the 49ers in 2010. Some running backs drafted before Westbrook include William Green, TJ Duckett, Deshaun Foster, and Ladell Betts. He was an absolute steal in the 3rd round.
Peters only played one year with the Eagles after they took him with the 124th pick in the 4th round. He went on to play for the Giants, 49ers, Panthers and Cardinals officially retiring in 2009. Currently he’s involved with programs promoting safer football regulations for both NCAA and NFL. Also selected in the 4th round that year was quarterback David Garrard and linebacker Larry Foote.
Milons was on the Eagles roster for one season just like Peters after he was drafted with the 162nd pick in the 5th round. The Crimson Tide wideout fractured his fibula in the final preseason game and was inactive the entire season. He was traded to Pittsburgh for a conditional pick and never played a game there either. He bounced around with the Ravens and Bengals after his stint with the Steelers then retired in 2005. Other notable selections in the 5th round were linebacker Scott Fujita, center Jonathan Goodwin and defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Harrison played in twelve games from 2002-03 as an Eagle and recorded only three tackles during that span. He was selected with the 198th pick in the 6th round so the reward was on the low side with this particular pick. He also played with the Packers and Texans after he left Philadelphia. Running back Chester Taylor was selected by the Ravens nine picks after Harrison was drafted.
The native of Philadelphia was taken with 238th pick in Round 7 by the Eagles. He dropped in the draft due to his lack of height for the defensive end position. The Eagles were forced to cut Brock after they were unable to fit him into their rookie salary cap. He was claimed by the Colts and went on to win a Super Bowl there. He had a productive career finishing with 40.5 sacks to go along with 13 forced fumbles. It’s a shame Brock was not able to stick with his hometown team he became a nice player in the league. Four selections after Brock another defensive end was drafted by the Steelers named Brett Keisel who is still on the team.
Overall Grade: A-
The first four selections in this draft became impact players right away for the Eagles. Sheppard, Lewis and Brown became the secondary when the team made the Super Bowl in 2004. Westbrook was the starting running back on that team. They managed to replace Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent with two very good young cornerbacks. While Lewis had his struggles later in his career he was still a very good draft pick. Westbrook was arguably the steal of the draft in the 3rd round as he went on to a great pro career. While the selections after that made little impact for the franchise the table was set beautifully with the first four picks in that 2002 draft. The drafts in the years to come after this would not be positive.