THE EAGLES will be the first to acknowledge that they've made their share of draft mistakes over the years. But they hardly are alone in that respect.
Many consider Bill Belichick to be one of the smartest men ever to set foot in the National Football League. He's taken the Patriots to five Super Bowls and won three of them. His team has recorded nine straight double-digit win seasons and has made it to the postseason 8 of those 9 years.
Yet, if you inspect the Patriots' drafts from 2007 through 2009, you might wonder whether Belichick brought in a fourth-grader to make the team's picks during that period.
Their 2011 Super Bowl team included only two starters from those three drafts. Of the eight players they selected in the first three rounds of those drafts, only four still were with the team last season, and only linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Patrick Chung were starters. Fourteen of the 28 players they selected in those drafts no longer are even in the league. Fourteen!
Belichick rebounded in 2010 to have one of the best drafts in Patriots history. Seven of his 12 picks that year - tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, cornerback Devin McCourty, linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham, defensive end Brandon Deaderick and punter Zoltan Mesko - were starters or key role players on last season's team.
My point is that evaluating talent is an inexact science. Everybody screws up, even the guys you think are really, really good at this.
While Eagles coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman no doubt have their fair share of admirers in the Delaware Valley, I seldom hear from them. I tend to hear from the loudmouths who think those two are village idiots.
I got an email a few weeks ago from one member of the I Hate Andy and Howie Club who described the Eagles' 2011 draft as a "train wreck."
While a couple of drafts in the Reid era certainly might merit that description, including the '03 Jerome McDougle-L.J. Smith-Billy McMullen draft and the '04 Shawn Andrews and a cast of thousands who couldn't play draft, last year really was not all that bad.
They walked away with two guys - Danny Watkins and Jason Kelce - who probably will be key components of their offensive line for the next 6 or 7 years. They found their kicker for the next 10 years (Alex Henery). They got a linebacker in the sixth round who started 13 games (Brian Rolle).
Their decisions to reach for safety Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round and take a project corner - Curtis Marsh - in the third were questionable moves. But it's too soon to draw any final conclusions about them. Let's give them at least until the end of the week.
I'm not trying to suggest that the Eagles are the best drafting team in the NFL. They're not. But they're also not The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.
I compared the Eagles' last five drafts with those of the Patriots, Giants and Ravens, who have three of the league's most highly regarded personnel departments. The results might surprise you.
The Eagles have harvested 15 players from those drafts who either were starters or played in sub-packages last season, which is one more than the Ravens, two more than the Giants and four more than the Patriots.
Two players from those drafts made it to the Pro Bowl - wide receiver DeSean Jackson (second round, '08) and running back LeSean McCoy (second round, '09). That's as many as the Giants and Ravens and only one fewer than the Patriots.
Only 12 of the 50 players they've taken in the last five drafts, or 24 percent, are out of the league. That's better than the Giants (30.7) and the Patriots (34.7), and only three percentage points higher than the Ravens.
Get complete coverage of the Eagles' preparations for the 2012 NFL draft in Philly.com Sports' special section.