2020 NFL draft: Grading the Eagles' oft-catastrophic LB draft picks


This piece continues our series of grading the Eagles' draft picks over the last 40 years. To check out our previous installment on defensive ends, read it here. Tomorrow: the safeties. 

From 1980 until 2012, the Eagles drafted seven linebackers in the second round.

They ranged from terrible to … terrible.

Those seven linebackers started an average of 13 games in an Eagles uniform. None of them started more than 24. All of them played their final game as an Eagle at 27 or younger. Two were 26, two were 25, two were 24. 

The streak of ineptitude finally ended in 2012, but this is the second round we're talking about! And over a 32-year period the Eagles went 0-for-7 (all before Howie Roseman took over, by the way).

The third round? Much better.

In the third installment of our Grading the Draft series, let’s take a deeper look at some of the Eagles’ linebacker draft disasters.

The series, which continues Monday with safeties, considers only players selected in the first three rounds.

1st-round picks


2nd-round picks

Mychal Kendricks [46th pick in 2012]: Kendricks had six solid years here, starting 74 games, with 3 INTs, 14 sacks and 6 forced fumbles and capped by a terrific performance down the stretch and in the postseason during the 2017 Super Bowl run.

Grade: B

Matt McCoy [63rd pick in 2005]: McCoy started 10 games during his 2 ½-year stint with the Eagles. Played his last game with the Eagles at 25 years old. Drifted around the league for a few years but never became a regular starter.

Grade: F

Quinton Caver [55th pick in 2001]: Lasted a year and a half in Philly, had 19 tackles in an Eagles uniform and never started a game. 

Grade: F

Barry Gardner [35th pick in 1999]: One time Pop Warner rival of Donovan McNabb was a very high second-round pick, so 18 starts in four years with the Eagles gets him a barely passing grade.

Grade: D

James Darling [57th pick in 1997]: Darling did play for 10 seasons in the NFL but only four with the Eagles. Might be overly generous, but I’m grading on a curve here.

Grade: C-minus

Jessie Small [49th pick in 1989]: Started for a year and a half before losing his job to William Thomas. Out of the league at 26.

Grade: D-minus

Alonzo Johnson [48th pick in 1986]: Johnson actually played pretty well as a rookie, picking off three passes and starting nine games. But positive marijuana tests derailed his career and he was out of football for good at 24.

Grade: F

Jody Schultz [46th pick in 1983]: A top-50 draft pick but started just six games in his brief Eagles career.

Grade: F

3rd-round picks

Jordan Hicks [84th pick in 2015]: You can’t really talk about Hicks without talking about the injuries. He played only one full season here but when he was healthy he was very good. Should have been a Pro Bowler in 2015. Went to Arizona this past year, played well and – of course - stayed healthy.

Grade: B

Stewart Bradley [87th pick in 2007]: Bradley showed some early promise but was never able to stay healthy enough to really build on it. He started 29 games in his brief three-year career with the Eagles before a couple years as a backup with the Cards. 

Grade: C

Jeremiah Trotter [72nd pick in 1998]: Even though his Eagles career was interrupted by his unfortunate two-year stint with the Redskins, Trotter was a world-class inside linebacker and inspirational leader on some of those early Andy Reid teams. A four-time Pro Bowler – twice in his first stint here, twice in his second – and a first-team all-pro in 2000. 

Grade: A-plus

Britt Hager [81st pick in 1989]: Mainly a special teamer – and a very good one – during his seven-year run with the Eagles. He did start 13 games over those seven years, but you’re looking for more than a special teamer in the third round. 

Grade: C-minus


1st round: ---

2nd round: F

3rd round: B minus

Overall: C minus

Previous installments of “Grade the Draft Picks:”

Defensive tackles

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