NFL draft 2020: Eagles have an all-or-nothing history with drafting safeties


It’s been all or nothing for the Eagles when it comes to drafting safeties.

The Eagles have drafted eight safeties in the first three rounds since 1980, and three of them were Pro Bowlers — one a Hall of Famer — but four were flat-out catastrophes, three between 1991 and 1994. Which isn’t easy to do. (Unless you’re Rich Kotite.)

The Eagles have never drafted a safety in the first round — Ben Smith became a safety later in his career— and they haven’t taken a safety in the first three rounds in nine years.

Let’s take a look at the Eagles’ record drafting safeties in the first three rounds since 1980:

1st-round picks  


 2nd-round picks

Jaiaquawn Jarrett (54th pick in 2011): The former Temple Owl played only 13 games with two starts as an Eagle. He went to the Jets in Year 3 and stuck around a few more years but his Eagles career was a huge disappointment.

Grade: F

Nate Allen (37th pick in 2010): Allen, acquired with the pick the Eagles got from the Redskins in the Donovan McNabb trade, started 69 games in his five years here, with 10 interceptions. He wasn’t good, he wasn’t bad. He might have been the most average player in Eagles history.

Grade: C 

Michael Lewis (58th pick in 2002): Lewis did make a Pro Bowl as a 24-year-old in 2004 and looked like a budding star, but he only played one more full season here after that. But he was very good in 2003 and 2004.

Grade: B-minus

Brian Dawkins (61st pick in 1996): The peerless safety began his career backing up Eric Zomalt before going on to make seven Pro Bowls and four all-pro teams during his 13-year Eagles career. Dawkins started 182 games as an Eagle. Nobody in franchise history has started more.

Grade: A-plus-plus-plus-plus

Jesse Campbell (48th pick in 1991): Campbell never got into a game for the Eagles. He didn’t play as a rookie, and the Eagles released him just before the 1992 season opener. He went on to spend seven years with the Giants and Redskins. He's one of three Eagles second-round picks from 1990 through 1994 that never played offense or defense in an Eagles uniform (along with Mike Bellamy and Bruce Walker).

Grade: F-minus-minus

Wes Hopkins (35th pick in 1989): Despite a terrible knee injury that cost him most of the 1986 and 1987 seasons, Hopkins was a fixture on the Eagles’ defense for a decade as a smart and tough free safety. He was a Pro Bowler and all-pro in 1985 and even after his layoff gave the Eagles six more very good years. He's the only player in franchise history with five seasons with five or more interceptions. Why isn’t he in the Eagles Hall of Fame?

Grade: A

3rd-round picks

Eric Zomalt (103rd pick in 1994): He started two games in 1996 before losing his job to Brian Dawkins. Zomalt was out of the NFL at 24.

Grade: F

Mike Reid (77th pick in 1993): Reid had three tackles in 12 games as an Eagle. Out of the NFL at 24.

Grade: F


1st round: No grade.
2nd round: C-plus
3rd round: F
Overall: C minus

Previous installments of “Grade the draft picks"

Defensive tackles
Defensive ends

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