Exploring Eagles' draft pick history by position


The 2021 NFL draft is rapidly approaching and the Eagles will have the No. 12 pick in the first round after trading back from No. 6.

Most mock drafts have them taking a receiver or cornerback with that pick, but there are other options on the table too.

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the Eagles’ history in the first round by position in the modern era (1970-now):

  • The Eagles have taken 43 players in the first round since 1970. They have drafted as high as No. 2 in the first round and as low as No. 31.
  • The most popular position among the 43 picks has been defensive end. The Eagles have taken eight in the first round, followed by offensive with seven. In fact, the Eagles have taken 11 offensive and 14 defensive linemen in the first round since 1970. That accounts for 58.1% of their first-round picks.

Here’s a closer look at the positional breakdown:

  • Those 43 players have come from 31 different schools. Three schools (Florida State, Oklahoma, USC) have produced three Eagles’ first-rounders. Another five schools have produced two apiece.

Here’s a breakdown by position:

Quarterback (3)

2016: No. 2 — Carson Wentz, North Dakota State

1999: No. 2 — Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

1971: No. 14 — John Reaves, Florida

It seemed like there was a chance that the Eagles would perhaps take a QB this year but the trade down from 6 to 12 pretty much ended that chance. There was a report that the Eagles were interested in BYU’s Zach Wilson but then they traded down. While the Eagles were successful in taking Wentz and McNabb, Reeves lasted three years in Philly. In 1972, he started seven games, going 0-7 with 7 touchdowns and 12 picks.

Running back (2)

1986: No. 10 — Keith Byars, Ohio State

1983: No. 8 — Michael Haddix, Mississippi State

It has been a long time since the Eagles have taken a running back in the first round and that’s purposeful. Although, they might have taken Christian McCaffrey at 14 in 2017 had he not gone at No. 8 overall.

Wide receiver (6)

2020: No. 21 — Jalen Reagor, TCU

2015: No. 20 — Nelson Agholor, USC

2009: No. 19 — Jeremy Maclin, Missouri

2001: No. 25 — Freddie Mitchell, UCLA

1984: No. 4 — Kenny Jackson, Penn State

1982: No. 20 — Mike Quick, North Carolina State

The Eagles at least understand the value of receivers. There are some obvious hits in there like Maclin and Quick and some misses like Jackson and Mitchell. Agholor probably falls in between; he was a big part of the Super Bowl team but had ups and downs. And it’s too early to say on Reagor.

Tight end (2)

1988: No. 13 — Keith Jackson, Oklahoma

1973: No. 6 — Charle Young, USC

For a while it seemed like perhaps this long drought would be broken by Kyle Pitts but the trade down to 12 likely ended those chances. There’s perhaps an outside chance Pitts makes it to 12, but that seems unlikely.

Offensive tackles (7)

2019: No. 22 — Andre Dillard, Washington State

2013: No. 4 — Lane Johnson, Oklahoma 

1998: No. 11 — Tra Thomas, Florida State

1994: No. 14 — Bernard Williams, Georgia

1991: No. 8 — Antone Davis, Tennessee

1985: No. 9 — Kevin Allen, Indiana

1973: No. 3 — Jerry Sisemore, Texas

There’s no question the Eagles understand the importance of offensive tackles. Obviously, they can’t be hits and the Eagles missed big on Allen and Davis. But they also hit with Sisemore, Thomas and Johnson. We’ll see what happens with Dillard.

Offensive guards (4)

2011: No. 23 — Danny Watkins, Baylor

2004: No. 16 — Shawn Andrews, Arkansas

1996: No. 25 — Jermane Mayberry, Texas A&M-Kingsville 

1993: No. 19 — Lester Holmes, Jackson State

Watkins is one of the more frustrating busts on this list, but the Eagles nailed the Mayberry pick and while Andrews didn’t have a long career, the peak was exceptionally high. There are no guards in the No. 12 range this year.

Defensive tackles (6)

2012: No. 12 — Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

2006: No. 14 — Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State

2005: No. 31 — Mike Patterson, USC

2000: No. 6 — Corey Simon, Florida State

1993: No. 14 — Leonard Renfro, Colorado

1987: No. 9 — Jerome Brown, Miami

It’s interesting that the last time the Eagles had the 12th pick, they selected one of the best players in franchise history. And Cox and Brown were our selections last offseason as the two DTs on the all-time Eagles team. There don’t appear to be any worthwhile DTs in that No. 12 range this year.

Defensive ends (8)

2017: No. 14 — Derek Barnett, Tennessee

2014: No. 26 — Marcus Smith, Louisville 

2010: No. 13 — Brandon Graham, Michigan

2003: No. 15 — Jerome McDougle, Miami

1997: No. 25 — Jon Harris, Virginia

1995: No. 7 — Mike Mamula, Boston College

1981: No. 27 — Leonard Mitchell, Houston

1971: No. 5 — Richard Harris, Grambling State

Another position that the Eagles are always going to value but they haven’t done a great job. Graham has become an all-time Eagles but there are some obvious misses in here. Smith, McDougle and Harris are obvious disappointments. Mamula never lived up to the No. 7 overall pick but he wasn’t a complete bust either. Mitchell began his career at defensive end but was later moved to offensive tackle.

Linebacker (2)

1979: No. 21 — Jerry Robinson, UCLA

1970: No. 6 — Steve Zabel, Oklahoma

It’s been over 40 years, so it seems unlikely this drought will end. But there’s a chance that Micah Parsons could be a really good fit at No. 12 if the Eagles want to change their ways. I still wouldn’t bet on it.

Defensive back (3)

2002: No. 26 — Lito Sheppard, Florida

1990: No. 22 — Ben Smith, Georgia

1980: No. 23 — Roynell Young, Alcorn State

In a way, this is actually the most surprising position of them all. The Eagles have never drafted a true safety in the first round and the fact that they’ve drafted just three DBs overall in the first round is pretty shocking. In this same span, they have drafted 12 defensive backs in the second round, including Brian Dawkins, Eric Allen and Bobby Taylor.

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