The 2021 NFL draft is rapidly approaching and the Eagles will have the No. 12 pick in the first round after trading back from No. 6.
Most mock drafts have them taking a receiver or cornerback with that pick, but there are other options on the table too.
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the Eagles’ history in the first round by position in the modern era (1970-now):
- The Eagles have taken 43 players in the first round since 1970. They have drafted as high as No. 2 in the first round and as low as No. 31.
- The most popular position among the 43 picks has been defensive end. The Eagles have taken eight in the first round, followed by offensive with seven. In fact, the Eagles have taken 11 offensive and 14 defensive linemen in the first round since 1970. That accounts for 58.1% of their first-round picks.
Here’s a closer look at the positional breakdown:
- Those 43 players have come from 31 different schools. Three schools (Florida State, Oklahoma, USC) have produced three Eagles’ first-rounders. Another five schools have produced two apiece.
Here’s a breakdown by position:
2016: No. 2 — Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
1999: No. 2 — Donovan McNabb, Syracuse
1971: No. 14 — John Reaves, Florida
It seemed like there was a chance that the Eagles would perhaps take a QB this year but the trade down from 6 to 12 pretty much ended that chance. There was a report that the Eagles were interested in BYU’s Zach Wilson but then they traded down. While the Eagles were successful in taking Wentz and McNabb, Reeves lasted three years in Philly. In 1972, he started seven games, going 0-7 with 7 touchdowns and 12 picks.
Running back (2)
1986: No. 10 — Keith Byars, Ohio State
1983: No. 8 — Michael Haddix, Mississippi State
It has been a long time since the Eagles have taken a running back in the first round and that’s purposeful. Although, they might have taken Christian McCaffrey at 14 in 2017 had he not gone at No. 8 overall.
Wide receiver (6)
2020: No. 21 — Jalen Reagor, TCU
2015: No. 20 — Nelson Agholor, USC
2009: No. 19 — Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
2001: No. 25 — Freddie Mitchell, UCLA
1984: No. 4 — Kenny Jackson, Penn State
1982: No. 20 — Mike Quick, North Carolina State
The Eagles at least understand the value of receivers. There are some obvious hits in there like Maclin and Quick and some misses like Jackson and Mitchell. Agholor probably falls in between; he was a big part of the Super Bowl team but had ups and downs. And it’s too early to say on Reagor.
Tight end (2)
1988: No. 13 — Keith Jackson, Oklahoma
1973: No. 6 — Charle Young, USC
For a while it seemed like perhaps this long drought would be broken by Kyle Pitts but the trade down to 12 likely ended those chances. There’s perhaps an outside chance Pitts makes it to 12, but that seems unlikely.
Offensive tackles (7)
2019: No. 22 — Andre Dillard, Washington State
2013: No. 4 — Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
1998: No. 11 — Tra Thomas, Florida State
1994: No. 14 — Bernard Williams, Georgia
1991: No. 8 — Antone Davis, Tennessee
1985: No. 9 — Kevin Allen, Indiana
1973: No. 3 — Jerry Sisemore, Texas
There’s no question the Eagles understand the importance of offensive tackles. Obviously, they can’t be hits and the Eagles missed big on Allen and Davis. But they also hit with Sisemore, Thomas and Johnson. We’ll see what happens with Dillard.
Offensive guards (4)
2011: No. 23 — Danny Watkins, Baylor
2004: No. 16 — Shawn Andrews, Arkansas
1996: No. 25 — Jermane Mayberry, Texas A&M-Kingsville
1993: No. 19 — Lester Holmes, Jackson State
Watkins is one of the more frustrating busts on this list, but the Eagles nailed the Mayberry pick and while Andrews didn’t have a long career, the peak was exceptionally high. There are no guards in the No. 12 range this year.
Defensive tackles (6)
2012: No. 12 — Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
2006: No. 14 — Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State
2005: No. 31 — Mike Patterson, USC
2000: No. 6 — Corey Simon, Florida State
1993: No. 14 — Leonard Renfro, Colorado
1987: No. 9 — Jerome Brown, Miami
It’s interesting that the last time the Eagles had the 12th pick, they selected one of the best players in franchise history. And Cox and Brown were our selections last offseason as the two DTs on the all-time Eagles team. There don’t appear to be any worthwhile DTs in that No. 12 range this year.
Defensive ends (8)
2017: No. 14 — Derek Barnett, Tennessee
2014: No. 26 — Marcus Smith, Louisville
2010: No. 13 — Brandon Graham, Michigan
2003: No. 15 — Jerome McDougle, Miami
1997: No. 25 — Jon Harris, Virginia
1995: No. 7 — Mike Mamula, Boston College
1981: No. 27 — Leonard Mitchell, Houston
1971: No. 5 — Richard Harris, Grambling State
Another position that the Eagles are always going to value but they haven’t done a great job. Graham has become an all-time Eagles but there are some obvious misses in here. Smith, McDougle and Harris are obvious disappointments. Mamula never lived up to the No. 7 overall pick but he wasn’t a complete bust either. Mitchell began his career at defensive end but was later moved to offensive tackle.
1979: No. 21 — Jerry Robinson, UCLA
1970: No. 6 — Steve Zabel, Oklahoma
It’s been over 40 years, so it seems unlikely this drought will end. But there’s a chance that Micah Parsons could be a really good fit at No. 12 if the Eagles want to change their ways. I still wouldn’t bet on it.
Defensive back (3)
2002: No. 26 — Lito Sheppard, Florida
1990: No. 22 — Ben Smith, Georgia
1980: No. 23 — Roynell Young, Alcorn State
In a way, this is actually the most surprising position of them all. The Eagles have never drafted a true safety in the first round and the fact that they’ve drafted just three DBs overall in the first round is pretty shocking. In this same span, they have drafted 12 defensive backs in the second round, including Brian Dawkins, Eric Allen and Bobby Taylor.
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