The Eagles are often criticized for how they draft ... Spending first-round picks on Jerome McDougle and Freddie Mitchell comes to mind as Exhibits A and B.
But the folks at pro-football-reference.com have devised an elaborate grading system for the drafts from 1996 to 2005 and determined that the Eagles rank fifth overall. The system compares the approximate value of the player's performance vs. the draft value of that pick. Teams get points when the player's performance exceeds the expectations for that pick.
Here is where it gets even more interesting: The Eagles have three of best 35 draft picks overall in the evaluation. Running back Brian Westbrook, chosen with the 91st pick, is 16th on the list. Defensive end Trent Cole, chosen with the 146th pick, is 20th, and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, chosen with the 72nd pick (by the previous administration), is 35th.
The study breaks it down even further ... The Eagles are just 17th in rankings of first round selections, and are on the negative side, meaning the value of the picks is more than what the player produced.
The Birds move up to 11th when it comes to evaluating players taken in the fourth through seventh rounds. The selection of Cole in the fifth round helps their ranking here.
By the way, the worst draft pick in the analyis? Yep, Ryan Leaf to San Diego with the second overall pick. Akili Smith going third to Cincinnati, one spot after Donovan McNabb was chosen, is up there as the second worst.