Looking back at the Eagles' 2002 draft

Lito Sheppard, now with the Vikings, was a part of the Eagles 2002 draft class.(Getty Images)

Tony Villiotti over at DraftMetrics.com recently took a look at every NFL draft class from 1994 to 2004 and ranked the top eight and the worst eight.

The Eagles got a mention for their 2002 draft, in which they selected Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Michael Lewis and Brian Westbrook.

I like Villiotti's study because it's based on specific criteria:

Career years - The total number of years played in the NFL by all members of the draft class.
Starter years - The total number of years started in the NFL by all members of the draft class. A starter year is defined by any year in which a player starts eight or more games.
5-year careers - The total number of players who lasted at least five years in the league.
5-year starters - The total number of players who started at least five years in the league.
Career starts - Total number of games started by all players in the draft class
Pro Bowlers - Total number of players that made at least one Pro Bowl. And that means original selections, not alternates or injury replacements.
All Pros - Total number of players that were All Pros at least once.

The research also compares the best and worst draft classes to the average draft class during that 10-year span.

In addition to Sheppard, Brown, Lewis and Westbrook, the Eagles also took center Scott Peters, wide receiver Freddie Milons, linebacker Tyreo Harrison and defensive end Raheem Brock in 2002.

Here's a look at how the Eagles' numbers in the above categories compared to the league average during that 10-year span:

Career Yrs.
Starter Yrs.
5-yr. careers
5-yr. starters
Career starts
Pro Bowlers
All Pros
'02 Eagles

Several interesting things to note here. Of all the players the Eagles drafted that year, Brown has started the most games (114).

Brock, a Temple product, gave the Eagles' numbers a boost, even though he never played a down here. He's never made a Pro Bowl, but Brock has started 104 games in nine NFL seasons.

The average numbers for the league as a whole are fascinating as well. The average draft during that 10-year span produced fewer than two players who went on to start more than five years in the league. The average draft produced fewer than one Pro Bowl player. The Eagles' 2002 draft had three Pro Bowlers, and that's with Brown having never received the honor.

The other seven draft classes that stood out were: the 1995 Packers, the 1995 Patriots, the 1996 Chiefs, the 1997 Bucs, the 2000 Jets, the 2001 Cardinals and the 2004 Chargers.

The eight worst classes were: the 1995 Browns, the 1997 Lions, the 1998 Chargers, the 1998 Panthers, the 2001 Vikings, the 2003 Broncos, the 2003 Titans and the 2004 Ravens.

Later this offseason, I'll take a look at the Eagles' past five drafts or so to see how they measure up to some of the numbers Villotti found with his research.

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