Past Eagles Drafts- 2003-04 Class

In this look back at previous Eagles drafts in the last 20 years we combine both the 2003-04 drafts that were painfully bad by the front office/scouting department.  We will go through round by round each picks for both season and good luck finding much value at the end of the day.  The Eagles were coming off a gut wrenching lost to the Bucs in the NFC title game as the final contest in Veterans Stadium was a 27-10 defeat.  They were opening up Lincoln Financial Field and looking to rebound.  The first overall pick in 2003 was quarterback Carson Palmer to Cincy.  Other notable first round selections that  year were Andre Johnson at 3, Terrell “Hacksaw” Suggs at 11, Troy Polamalu at 16, Dallas Clark at 24, and Nnamdi Asomugha at 31.  The 2004 draft featured Eli Manning as the number 1 overall pick by the Chargers eventually being dealt to the Giants as were aware.  Other first round selections of note were Philip Rivers, Larry Fitzgerald, the late Sean Taylor, Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson and Eagles fan favorite Jason Babin.  We’ll start with ’03 first round selection.  With the 15th pick in the 2003 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected…

1. Jerome McDougle– Defensive End (Miami)

The Eagles traded up 15 spots with the Chargers to take the defensive end out of Miami with the number 15 pick overall.  He was the first player the Eagles drafted from Miami since Jerome Brown.  McDougle had ongoing injuries during his time here.  He missed 8 games in his rookie season due to ankle and hip issues.  The following season he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and a knee sprain forced him to sit out the final 4 regular season games.  Before training camp in 2005, McDougle was shot in Miami which eventually forced him to miss the entire season.  When he finally did return to the field in 2006 his bonehead unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Bucs by kicking the penalty flag after his initial roughing the passer call led to a 62 yard game winning field goal by Matt Bryant.  The laundry list of injuries continued in 2007 when he tore his triceps in the preseason opener and missed the whole year.  In a move that was long overdue he was cut during final roster move for the 2008 season.  He signed with the Giants playing in four games and recording zero sacks.  As an Eagle McDougle suited up for 33 games and had a total of three sacks during that span.  To say that McDougle was a bust is the understatement of the century.  This was a team coming off a near Super Bowl appearance and dominating it’s division.  Adding a player in the first round who made any kind of impact would have done wonders.  Just to add a little more salt to the wound the pick after McDougle the Steelers selected future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu.  

The Eagles came up short again in the NFC title game versus the Panthers in 2003 so heading into the 2004 draft they were looking to add talent to get them over the hump.  With the 16thpick in the 2004 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles selected…

2. Shawn Andrews- Guard (Arkansas)

Andrews was a Pro Bowl player his first few seasons in Eagles green, but the later stages of his time here turned frustrating with his back issues to go along with absence from the team due to mental health concerns.  The Eagles traded up to pick 16 with the Chiefs to select Andrews and made him the starting right guard for the 2004 season.  Unfortunately, he broke his leg in the season opener against the Giants and missed the great Super Bowl run.  He returned for the miserable 2005 campaign and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.  Andrews was named a Pro Bowl starter in 2006, but suffered a scary neck injury in the Saints divisional playoff loss that year.  He returned in 2007 and made the Pro Bowl again.  2008 is when the wheels began to fall off for the first round pick.  He did not report to training camp and was not excused either.  Andrews admitted he was suffering from depression and wound up missing 17 days of training camp.  Once he finally returned in August he started the first two games of the regular season then missed the rest of the year with a back injury that would prove to be the physical downfall of his career.  He had offseason surgery on his back and played in only the season opener in 2009 before being placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. The Eagles released Andrews in March of 2010.  They tried many different ways to solve the mystery of Shawn Andrews even trying to bring his brother Stacey Andrews who was not a good player.  At the end of the day trading up to select Andrews was a smart move and he did make three Pro Bowls during his career.  Unfortunately, his personality didn’t quite fit for an NFL player which came to surface after a few years in the league.  First round draft picks that basically retire after five seasons don’t provide you with a great return on investment.  Five picks after Andrews was selected the Patriots drafted Vince Wilfork at pick 21.  Running back Steven Jackson went to the Rams with pick 24.  Both of these players would have been great selections during that time.

2nd Round

2003-LJ Smith (Tight End, Rutgers)

Smith was taken with the 61st pick in the 2nd round out of Rutgers.  He was not a bad pick at the spot considering Chad Lewis was getting up there in age so Smith would be the logical replacement.  He had 321 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season.  In 2004, Smith had five touchdown which was the most by an Eagles tight end since Lewis had six in 2001.  He also had the first touchdown in the Super Bowl versus the Patriots.  His best season probably came in 2005 when he had 61 catches for 682 yards.  He followed that up in 2006 with 50 receptions for 611 yards.  After that season the injuries began to get to Smith as he combined for 59 receptions those two season.  He was designated with the franchise tag before the 2008 season and only had 298 yards receiving.  He signed with the Ravens on a one year deal the following year.  Smith called it quits after his one year in Baltimore.  His final receptions total for his career was 233 to go along with 18 touchdowns.  The talent was always there for Smith he just struggled with leg injuries to go along with a lack of focus in my opinion as well.  He had a great opportunity to learn from Chad Lewis, but never seemed to take that next step in his career.  Seven selections later in the third round Chicago selected Lance Briggs and the very next pick Jason Witten went to the Cowboys.  Both are obviously better players and would have been great fits in Philadelphia.

2004- No Draft picks this year in 2nd round

3rd Round

2003-Billy McMullen (Wide Receiver, Virginia)

McMullen was taken with the 95th pick in the 3rd round.  His six foot four frame should have been an advantage for him in the NFL.  He never made any impact for the Eagles or any other team for that matter.  He didn’t score his first NFL touchdown until December 2005.  For a team badly in need of playmakers at the wideout position, McMullen provided zilch.  In his three seasons with the Eagles he recorded 22 catches and one lonely touchdown.  He went on to play minimal roles with Minnesota and Seattle before retiring after the 2008 season.  Asante Samuel, Brandon Lloyd and Ike Taylor were selected some twenty picks later in the fourth round after McMullen.

2004-Matt Ware (Cornerback, UCLA)

The UCLA corner was taken in the 3rd round with the 89thpick overall.  His only memorable moment as an Eagle was scooping and scoring a blocked field goal in 2005 to win the game versus San Diego at home.  He played in 28 games during his two seasons with the Eagles and had zero interceptions.  He eventually wound up on the Cardinals after being released before the season in 2006.  He was out of the league by 2011.  Matt Schaub was taken with the very next pick and Shaun Phillips went to the Chargers at pick 98 in the 4th round.

4th Round

2003-Jamaal Green (Defensive End, Miami)

As if one defensive end from Miami wasn’t enough in the 2003 draft the Eagles selected Green with the 131st pick in the 4thround.  He played in 8 games during two season with the team and recorded one sack so to say he was a wasted pick is an understatement.  McDougle and Green are two of the worst defensive draft picks in Eagles history.  Ironically from the same draft class and same college.  Seven picks after the Eagles took Green, the Colts drafted six time Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis so there’s that.

2004-JR Reed (Safety, South Florida)

Reed was selected with the 129th pick in the 4th round and looked to be a promising young kick returner in his rookie season.  However, he suffered a freak injury that ended his 2005 season after cutting the back of his knee and affecting nerves in his lower leg/foot while trying to jump a fence near his home.  He didn’t play at all in 2005.  Reed was cut during the final roster moves before the 2006 season.  He bounced around with the Rams, Falcons and Giants before returning to the Eagles in 2007 where he resumed his kick returner along with some secondary duties.  Reed was released again by the team in October 2008.  He retired after finishing out the season with the Jets.  Like I mentioned Reed showed some burst and promise on kickoffs, but that freak accident pretty much ended his chances of improving his career.  Jared Allen was selected by the Chiefs two picks before Reed.

2004-Trey Darilek (Guard, UTEP)

Darilek was taken two picks after Reed in the 4th round and had even less impact.  He only played sparingly in two seasons with the Eagles and never started a game.  He was cut before the 2006 season.  He also played with Miami and Dallas in limited action following his release.  Defensive end Antonio Smith was drafted four picks later to Arizona.  Smith made a Pro Bowl during his career.

5th Round

2003-No Draft Picks

2004-Thomas Tapeh (Running Back, Minnesota)

Tapeh was selected with a pick acquired from Kansas City after the Eagles traded right guard Jon Welbourn.  Welbourn was going to be replaced by 2004 first round pick Shawn Andrews. Tapeh played running back at Minnesota, but was converted to a fullback for the four seasons he played with the Eagles.  He signed to play with the Vikings in 2008 and was released in October of that year by the team.  That was his last stop in the NFL.  Eight picks earlier in the 5th round the Chargers selected running back Michael Turner.

6th Round

2003- Jeremy Bridges (Offensive Tackle, Southern Miss)

Bridges was selected with the 185th pick in the 6th round.  He was inactive for the entire 2003 season and subsequently released after that.  He went on to have two stints with both the Cardinals and Panthers during his career along with a stay in Washington.  He retired in 2012.  Bridges started 55 games during his NFL career.  Also selected later in the 6th round was wide receiver David Tyree by the Giants.

2004-Andy Hall (Quarterback, Delaware)

The Eagles took the Delaware signal caller with the 185thpick in the 6th round similar to Bridges the year before.  He lasted two seasons with the team then was sent to NFL Europe before the 2005 season.  He never played a regular season snap with the team and that was his last stop in the NFL.  Three picks later Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee was drafted by the 49ers.  Jim Sorgi was also selected by the Colts eight picks later and he backed up Peyton Manning for most of his career.

2004-Dexter Wynn (Cornerback, Colorado State)

Wynn was selected seven picks after Hall with the 192ndpick in the 6th round.  He spent 2004 and 2005 as a backup corner/kick returner.  He was initially released in 2006, but resigned later in the season due to secondary injuries.  Wynn played with Houston and Detroit after his time in Philadelphia.  He retired after the 2009 season and appeared in 28 games as an Eagle.  Current Eagles punter Donnie Jones was selected later in the 7th round by Seattle.

7th Round

2003-Norman LeJeune (Safety, LSU)

LeJeune was the 244th pick in round 7 and initially cut in August of 2003 by the Eagles.  He was signed to the practice squad and did not appear in any games that season.  He was released in August of 2004.  He also made brief stops with the Titans, Dolphins and Colts up until 2007.  The Eagles did get several solid pickups in the undrafted department after that 2003 draft.  Rod Hood, Jamaal Jackson, Greg Lewis and Quintin Mikell were all signed.  Other notable undrafted players from that draft include Tony Romo, former Eagles Cullen Jenkins and Chris Clemons, Fred Jackson, and Antonio Gates.  There was talent to be had in the late rounds of that draft.

2004-Adrien Clarke (Guard, Ohio State)

Clarke was the 227th pick in the 7th round by the Eagles.  He was on injured reserve for all of his rookie year with a torn hamstring.  He made four starts in 2005 the first being in Week 12.  Clarke was waived in August of 2006 due to a back injury.  He also played for the Jets and Ravens following his departure.  

2004-Dominic Furio (Center, UNLV)

Furio was the 243rd pick in the 7th round.  He played two seasons with the Eagles, but never saw any action.  That was his first and last stop in the NFL.  It was a pretty fitting way to end two extremely poor years of drafting for the franchise.  Other notable undrafted players that draft include current Eagles tackle Jason Peters, Steelers running back Willie Parker, and slot receiver Wes Welker.

 

Overall Grade: F

During the 2003 and 2004 seasons the Eagles were the class of the NFC largely built off previous drafts.  They had an opportunity to build on something really special with both of these drafts I just spotlighted.  With the right mix of scouting and homework they could have formed a dynasty for years to come by adding to their already existing winning roster that just needed that extra boost.  Out of the fifteen players selected between these two drafts only two really made any kind of impact on the field.  That would be Shawn Andrews and LJ Smith.  I documented Andrews history as his career moved along so they really didn’t get full value on him.  Smith was an okay player, but when you consider that Jason Witten was taken picks later that really magnifies things.  The worst part of this is that a majority of these guys hardly even took regular season snaps as an Eagle.  They were often more productive finding undrafted free agents as opposed to selecting players with the picks they already had.  These two pathetic drafts really hurt this franchise years down the road when current players on the roster began to move on or diminish in talent.  Andy Reid was a great head coach for the Eagles, but his draft strategy leaves a lot to be desired.

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