Starting Sunday The Inquirer began a five-day series looking at the Eagles' greatest needs heading into Thursday's draft and how Andy Reid has fared drafting players at those positions. We're also looking at Reid's last five drafts to evaluate his choices now that we've actually seen them play.
Today I wrote about the team's need at cornerback. Attached to the story is a look back at Reid's record drafting corners and a glimpse of the 2007 draft class, both of which are pasted below.
Andy Reid's Picks: Cornerbacks
Since taking taking Lito Sheppard 26th overall in 2002 and Sheldon Brown in the second round, 59th overall, the Eagles have not picked any corners earlier than Round 3. Not surprisingly, they haven't developed any quality starters from within, relying instead on veterans from elsewhere, including Pro Bowler Asante Samuel and the oft-injured Ellis Hobbs. Of the six cornerbacks Andy Reid drafted after 2002, none has made a significant impact, and only 2010 fourth-rounder Trevard Lindley is still on the team.
Lito Sheppard (1st round, 2002) - A two-time Pro Bowler, he started on the talented defenses of the early 2000s, including the Eagles' Super Bowl team.
Matt Ware (3d round, 2004) - Several corners could qualify for the failed list, but Ware was the highest selection. He spent two years in Philadelphia and left without starting a game.
Trevard Lindley (4th round, 2010) - Lindley had the ups and downs you might expect from a rookie. The Eagles want to see him take a step forward in 2011.
2007 Draft Review
A controversial draft at the time, this class had no cornerbacks, keeping with the team's recent trend away from that position, and has produced only two standout seasons: Brent Celek's 2009 and Stewart Bradley's 2008.
Only Celek, a find in the fifth round, looks like a sure piece of the Eagles' future, and he is coming off a down year. Unless Bradley (third round) rebounds from injuries in 2011, he could be gone. Four of this year's eight picks were washouts, and Victor Abiamiri (second round) is nearing that territory due to knee problems. No one from this class has made the Pro Bowl.
The wild card in assigning a grade is Kevin Kolb (second round). A starting-quality quarterback is valuable in the abstract, but with only seven career starts, Kolb has played a fairly minor on-field role. Even if Kolb is as good as Reid says, his value must be weighed against the immediate help the Eagles could have had at the top of the draft.
No one could have known in 2007 that Michael Vick would end up the heir to Donovan McNabb. But in an unpredictable league it's fair to ask whether the Eagles got ahead of themselves when they picked Kolb. If Kolb brings a nice return when trades resume, the deal could raise this grade. But for now, only Celek has provided strong, tangible results. Grade: C-minus