The Reid Review: 1999 Draft

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Ah, 1999. Y2K fever was ambushing America, Bill Clinton was still doing his thing in the White House, and I was nothing but a wide-eyed fifth grader at Buckingham Elementary. 1999 may have been the final year of the old-millenium. But, it was the beginning of a new era in Philadelphia sports. The Eagles, fresh off a 3-13 campaign under Ray Rhodes the year prior, had just hired a young QB coach from Green Bay named Andy Reid. The burly offensive guru was pressured by many to select Texas Longhorns’ RB Ricky Williams with the second overall pick. Luckily for both Reid and the city’s sake, he bucked that suggestion.

Round 1, Pick 2 – QB Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Short-term impact: McNabb started six games his rookie year, playing as well as rookie QB’s could be expected to back then. He defeated the ultimate Super Bowl champions, St. Louis, in week-17 of that season. A game that, if I might add, yours truly was present and accounted for. The following season, McNabb began to establish himself as a star in the league, leading the Eagles to their first playoff berth since 1996. Grade: B

Long-term impact: Donovan McNabb spent 11 seasons in midnight green, leading the Eagles to playoff berths following eight of those campaigns. Of course, few will forget his spectacular moments like 4th and 26, the broken-ankle game vs. Arizona, or his spectacular runs against Washington in 2000. For all the good, though, comes plenty of bad. McNabb was never able to get the Eagles their first championship in the Super Bowl era. But, he was able to turn a franchise, defeated from the dismal decade of the 90s, into a force once again. Grade: A-

Relative Value: It’s hard to argue with the value of McNabb’s selection. It came one pick after Cleveland bungled their franchise’s first selection with Tim Couch and one pick prior to Cincinnati taking the pathetic Akili Smith. If Reid had drafted either of those two, I’d imagine that he would not be coaching right now. Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Champ Bailey, Daunte Culpepper, and Jevon Kearse also went in the first round in 1999. Few would have had nearly as much of an impact as McNabb ended up having. Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 35 – LB Barry Gardner, Northwestern 


Short-term Impact: Gardner was an athletic linebacker out of Big Ten Northwestern whom Andy Reid fell in love with during the offseason scouting combine. His combination of speed and strength made him a worthwhile gamble at 35th overall. Gardner would start 18 games over his first two seasons. But, never stood out in Jim Johnson’s aggressive defense. Grade: B-

Long-term Impact: Gardner’s most memorable play will forever be he and Blaine Bishop chasing down Tampa Bay WR Joe Jurevicious during the 2002 NFC Championship Game. That play changed the momentum of the game and, really, the Andy Reid regime. Gardner never started another game after 2000 until that Sunday afternoon in South Philadelphia. That game would prove to be his last in an Eagles uniform. Gardner would suit up in 46 more games with the Browns and Jets before retiring following the 2006 season. Grade: D

Relative Value: He was selected one pick before Mike Peterson, a vastly superior player at the same position. Pro Bowlers taken in the same round include T Jon Jansen, DE Mike Rucker, CB Dre Bly, and WR Peerless Price. Grade: D

Round 3, Pick 64: G Doug Brzezinski, Boston College


Short-term impact: A BIG man out of Boston College, Brzezinski’s selection played immediate dividends for the Eagles. The 6-4, 305 pound behemoth started all 16 games his rookie year, quite the feat for a rookie from the Big East. Grade: B+

Long-term impact: Unfortunately, Brzezinski fell out of favor rather quickly. He was replaced in the starting lineup by John Welbourn in 2000 and only started six more games from 2000-2002 with Philadelphia. He would go on to play two more seasons with the Carolina Panthers, starting just 8 games and appearing on their 2003 Super Bowl roster. Grade: D

Relative Value: Four Pro Bowlers were selected in the third round: OLB Joey Porter, DE Gary Stills, WR Marty Booker, and K Martin Gramatica. Brzezinski played relatively well his first season in Philadelphia, then tapered off. Grade: C

Round 4, Pick 97 – T/G John Welbourn, California


Short-term Impact: The Eagles selected offensive linemen with back-to-back picks in the middle of the 1999 draft. Welbourn was the opposite of Brzezinski. He only played in one game during his rookie campaign before emerging as a solid starter later on in his career. Grade: C-

Long-term impact: Welbourn was a mainstay on the Eagles offensive line during their first three NFC Championship Game appearances. He started 55 games at either tackle or guard from 2000-2003 with Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Welbourn was never able to reach the Super Bowl in midnight green, as he was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004 in exchange for 2nd and 4th round draft picks (used to trade up and select G Shawn Andrews). He would play four more seasons in Kansas City before retiring following 2007. Grade: B

Relative value: It’s difficult to argue with a fourth round selection who eventually starts 55 games for you at a solid level. The Eagles could have taken DE Aaron Smith or WR Brandon Stokley. But, it’s not as though either of those players would have made nearly as much of an impact during Reid’s glory years. Grade: A-

Round 4, Pick 128 – SS Damon Moore, Ohio State


Short-term impact: A former Ohio State standout, Moore started just one game his rookie year in the NFL, recording one interception in the process. Grade: C

Long-term impact: Moore made his presence known in 2000 and 2001, when he started all 32 regular season games for Philadelphia. The brightest moment of his career, undoubtedly, came during the team’s 2001 Wild Card victory over Tampa Bay. Moore recorded three interceptions that evening, including a pick-six of Brad Johnson that sealed the triumph. He would tear his ACL in St. Louis during the 2001 NFC Championship Game. After he struggled in training camp that summer, the team released Moore. He played six more games with the Chicago Bears before retiring following 2002. Grade: C+

Relative value: You’re not going to find too many stars drafted late in the fourth round. Moore was a solid starter for a couple of years, even if he was the obvious weak link in the secondary. Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 130 – WR Na Brown, North Carolina


Short-term impact: Brown started 5 games his rookie season, recording 18 catches for 188 yards and a touchdown. Brown became notorious for performing brilliantly during practice before becoming invisible during the games. Grade: D

Long-term impact: The former Tar Heel is remembered solely for his back-of-the-endzone touchdown reception during the Eagles’ 21-3 victory over Tampa Bay in the 2000 playoffs. That game got the Andy Reid era underway, and was the only moment that anyone will remember from Na Brown. He was released following 2001 and never played in the league again. Grade: D+

Relative value: The only WR taken after Brown who did anything impactful was Donald Driver. Still, the selection of Brown was a sign of things to come over the next decade, as Reid would continue to draft mediocre wide receivers with no future impact on the team. Grade: D

Round 6, Pick 172 – Fullback Cecil Martin, Wisconsin


Short-term impact: Martin split time with Stanley Pritchett his first few seasons in the NFL, starting 15 games in 1999-2000. He recorded his first touchdown during the 2001 season, his first as the full time starter at fullback. Grade: C

Long-term impact: Martin was a strong lead-blocker for Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter during his time in Philadelphia from 1999-2002. He also caught a touchdown pass during the Eagles’ 34-19 victory over the Chicago Bears in the 2001 NFC Divisional Playoffs. After he was released in 2002, Martin played 1 game with Tampa Bay in 2003 before retiring. For a sixth-round fullback, Martin made some memorable plays. Grade: B

Relative value: Say what you will about drafting a fullback. But, Martin was better than most of the sixth round picks in 1999. The lone Pro Bowler was TE Desmond Clarke. Grade: B

Round 6, Pick 201 – WR Troy Smith, East Carolina


Short-term impact: If you’ve never heard of Troy Smith. Well, I don’t blame you. Perhaps the worst selection of the Andy Reid era, Smith played just one NFL game during his entire career. It came during his rookie season, when he made his lone career reception, a 14-yard catch from Koy Detmer against the New England Patriots. Grade: D-

Long-term impact: Seeing as how Smith was cut the following spring and never played another down in the league; it is impossible for this not to be a failing grade. Grade: F

Relative value: Green Bay selected multiple Pro Bowler Donald Driver 12 selections later. Grade: F

Round 7, Pick 208: TE Jed Weaver, Oregon


Short-term impact: The cousin of Jered and Jeff Weaver, Jed was a burly, lumberjack-esque tight end from Oregon. Weaver would play just one season in Philadelphia, recording 11 receptions for 91 yards in 10 starts in 1999. He also made the All-Rookie team for those efforts. Not bad for a seventh round pick. Grade: B-

Long-term impact: Weaver was let go following his strong rookie campaign because the Eagles had Chad Lewis and Luther Broughton already on their depth chart. He would go on to play five more seasons with his best statistical year coming in 2003 with San Francisco (35 receptions, 437 yards, TD). Weaver would play on the 49ers, Eagles, Dolphins, and Patriots. The greatest of irony came in 2004, when Weaver and the Pats defeated the Eagles to win Super Bowl XXXIX. Grade: B+

Relative value: For the Eagles, the value was not that great. Yes, Weaver was a strong rookie in 1999. But, his best moments came elsewhere, including a championship in New England. For a fullback taken in the seventh round, Weaver made a strong career for himself. Grade: A-

Round 7, Pick 251 – DT Pernell Davis, UAB

Short-term impact: You know a player made zero impact when one cannot even find a picture of him on the internet. When Pernell Davis is searched for, one will only find an assortment of mugshots. The former UAB standout played in just two games his rookie season without recording a statistic before being shipped to NFL Europe. Grade: D-

Long-term impact: None. Davis broke his leg in 2000 with Frankfurt and was released by the Eagles in 2001. He was retained on their practice squad and signed a two-year contract following the season by Cincinnati. But, he was released by the Bengals in training camp. Grade: F

Relative value: The third to last pick in the draft, Davis was only ahead of P Rodney Williams and FB Jim Finn. Grade: C

1999 Draft Review

Best selection: QB Donovan McNabb
Worst selection: WR Troy Smith
Best value: T/G John Welbourn
Worst value: LB Barry Gardner
Overall grade: B


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