2020 NFL draft: Eagles' track record drafting defensive ends is … not pretty


This piece is the first in a series grading the Eagles' draft picks over the last 40 years. Tomorrow: The defensive tackles.

When Greg Jefferson is statistically one of the better defensive ends you’ve drafted in the last 40 years, you’re in trouble.

The Eagles’ track record drafting defensive ends in the first three rounds since 1980 is abysmal.

The Eagles have selected 11 defensive ends in the first, second or third round since 1980, and five of them — almost half — had five or fewer sacks in an Eagles uniform. 

This is bad.

Over the next week and a half, we’re going to examine the Eagles’ draft record since 1980 at every position.

We’re going to evaluate picks in the first three rounds, since everything after that is a crapshoot anyway. 

We start with defensive ends, and I’m warning you in advance, this is ugly.

1st-round picks

Derek Barnett (15th pick in 2017): Barnett’s been OK. Not awful, but 14 ½ sacks in three years certainly isn’t what you expect from the 14th pick in the draft. But he’s only 23 and did have 6 ½ sacks in his last 10 games last year, which was encouraging.

Grade: C

Marcus Smith (24th pick in 2014): Colossal bust. Never started an NFL game and managed only four sacks in three years with the Eagles before fading out of the league at 26.

Grade: F

Brandon Graham (13th pick in 2010): Graham is a tough one to grade because of those lost years early in his career. But since he became a full-time starter in 2015 he’s been really good. He’s got 34 sacks over the last five years, 22 the last three years, he was huge during the Super Bowl season and he made one of the biggest plays in franchise history. 

Grade: B-plus

Jerome McDougle (15th pick in 2003): Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, there have been 79 defensive ends taken with a top-15 pick. Four had fewer sacks than McDougle’s three.

Grade: F-minus

Jon Harris (25th pick in 1997):  

Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, there have been 151 defensive ends taken in the first round. Five had fewer sacks than Harris’s two.

Grade: F-minus

Mike Mamula [7th pick in 1995): He was better than you remember. Mamula had 31 ½ sacks in five seasons before retiring early because of injuries. 

Grade: C

2nd-round picks

Vinny Curry (59th pick in 2012): Curry always gives everything he has and that’s been true since he got here eight years ago. He was a starter on the Super Bowl team, and he’s the kind of guy you always root for. But the bottom line is 27 sacks in seven years as an Eagle and just 14 in four years since his nine-sack 2014 season. 

Grade: C-minus

Victor Abiamiri (57th pick in 2007): Not as high-profile a bust as some of these other guys, but four career sacks for a top-60 pick is ghastly. Abiamri was out of football before his 24th birthday.

Grade: F

3rd-round picks

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (86th pick in 2012): Te’o-Nesheim had one sack in six games as an Eagle.

Grade: F-minus

Bryan Smith (80th pick in 2008): The hits keep coming. Smith never played a snap for the Eagles. He a brief stint with the Jaguars in 2009 and that was it. Smith was the first Eagles’ third-round pick to never play a snap in an Eagles uniform since Matt Patchan in 1988.

Grade: F

Derrick Burgess (63rd pick in 2001): If we were grading his career, it would be way higher. But as an Eagle he only had 8 ½ sacks in his two healthy seasons. He did have a very good 2004 postseason and went on to Oakland, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler before returning to Philly in 2010 when he had nothing left. But as an Eagle?

Grade: C-minus

Greg Jefferson (72nd pick in 1995): The sad thing is Jefferson had 13 ½ sacks in five years with the Eagles, and that actually puts him in the middle of the pack.

Grade: D-minus

Final grades

1st round: D-plus (1.3 GPA)
2nd round: F (0.9 GPA)
3rd round: F (0.7 GPA)
Overall: D (1.0 GPA)

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