Whatever you think of Jalen Hurts – future franchise quarterback and superstar gadget player or disastrous second-round bust – you have to admit the pick came out of left-field.
It got us thinking about the strangest, most unexpected draft picks in Eagles history.
Not the biggest busts. Although many of them were. But the most baffling, bewildering, head-scratching picks.
The ones where you were so confused you didn’t even yell in frustration. You just stared silently at the TV in disbelief.
The picks that made no sense.
And still don’t.
Michael Haddix, FB, Mississippi State, 1st round, 1983
Forget the fact that future Hall of Famers like Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Darrell Green and Bruce Matthews were still on the board. Who the heck drafts a fullback who averaged 639 yards per year in college with the 8th pick in the draft? Even in the 1980s, when fullback was still a viable position, taking a fullback with the 8th pick was nuts. Haddix was a good blocker. But his 3.0 rushing average is worst by a running back in modern NFL history.
Kenny Jackson, WR, Penn State, 1st round, 1984
What sort of incredible stats did Kenny Jackson put up in college to earn the No. 4 draft pick? He caught 28 passes for 483 yards. Jackson averaged 27 catches and 502 yards per year in college, so it was no shock to anybody that he wasn’t much of a pro (15.8 catches per season). The only shock was that the Eagles thought he was worth the fourth pick overall.
Don McPherson, QB, Syracuse, 6th round, 1989
McPherson was a fun college player and was second to Tim Brown in the Heisman Trophy balloting (just ahead of Glassboro’s Gordie Lockbaum). But he wasn’t an accurate passer (53.5 percent career passer), he didn’t throw a lot of touchdowns (46 in 44 games), he threw a ton of interceptions (1 every 26 attempts) and he wasn’t much of a runner (2.6 average). Randall Cunningham was in his prime, and McPherson had zero chance of being an NFL quarterback. Not surprisingly, he never played a snap.
Bruce Walker, DT, UCLA, 2nd round, 1994
Here’s an idea: Use the 37th pick in the draft on a disinterested, out-of-shape defensive tackle with multiple arrests on his record. Walker was suspended from the UCLA football team in January of 1993 after an arrest on misdemeanor weapons charges. He was reinstated on April 6, then suspended again 12 DAYS LATER after an arrest on felony charges after police found $13,000 in stolen property in his apartment. The Eagles saw that and said, ‘That’s our guy!” Walker didn’t even make it to opening day his rookie year.
Jon Harris, DE, Virginia, 1st round, 1997
I’ll never forget when we got Jon Harris on a conference call soon after the Eagles shockingly made him the 25th pick in the draft. We asked Harris where he was watching the draft, and he sheepishly told us that he wasn’t watching the draft. He was so sure he wasn’t going to get drafted until the third round at the earliest that when the Eagles selected him he was driving over to a friend’s house to watch the draft. “I like sicko’s, I like wacko’s,” Ray Rhodes told us explaining the pick. Harris was neither. He was the nicest kid in the world. But couldn’t play. After two sacks in two years he was out of the league at 24.
Jeremy Bloom, WR, Colorado, 5th round, 2006
It wasn’t that Bloom didn’t have a good college career. He was a heck of a returner. The thing is, he hadn’t played football in three years. His focus from 2004 through 2006 was Olympic skiing, and that meant shaping his body in a completely different way than he did for football. Bloom never played in the NFL although he went on to found the Wish of a Lifetime foundation and is founder and CEO of technology and data services firm Integrate.
Bryan Smith, LB-DE, McNeese State, 3rd round, 2008
It made sense to somebody to use a third-round pick on an NCAA Division 1 tweener who had 13 sacks his entire college career going up against the likes of football powerhouses Delta State, Nicholls State and Sam Houston State. Smith was too small to play defensive end and too slow to play linebacker. He never played a snap for the Eagles and had no career sacks in six NFL games.
Alex Henery, K, Nebraska, 4th round, 2011
Never draft a kicker in the first few rounds is a pretty good rule to live by. Only four of the 40 most accurate kickers in NFL history were drafted in the first four rounds and 28 of the 40 most accurate kickers weren’t drafted at all. You find kickers off the waiver wire (David Akers), from other teams’ practice squad (Jake Elliott) or by trading guys like David Flullen (Cody Parkey). Henery, known for his strong leg in college, made just two 50-yarders in three years with the Eagles and was out of the league by 2014.
Fireman Danny, OL, Baylor, 1st round, 2011
I can’t even bring myself to write his real name. Fireman Danny will suffice. The Eagles proved that drafting a Canadian fire fighting enthusiast who turns 27 halfway through his rookie year is maybe not a good idea. You know how Howie Roseman spoke a lot this year about finding guys who love playing football? If he had done that nine years ago, Fireman Danny never would have been an Eagle.
Marcus Smith, LB-DE, Louisville, 1st round, 2014
One of the biggest reaches ever. I just looked up a few 2014 mock drafts and they had Smith as the 67th pick (Bucky Brooks of NFL.com), 84th pick (Matt Miller of Bleacher Report), 53rd (Dan Dahlke of Lombardi Ave), 87th (Eddie Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune) and 64th (WalterFootball.com). The Eagles picked him 26th. He would have been a bust in any round. Smith managed 4.0 sacks in three desultory seasons with the Eagles and was out of the league at 26.
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