Who is the all-time best draft pick in Philadelphia Eagles history? Who is the one man that has done the most for the organization on and off of the field?
The Eagles draft history is interesting. It was then Philadelphia owner Bert Bell who came up with the idea for the draft which began in 1936. The Eagles had the top choice and selected college football’s first Heisman Trophy winner in Chicago University halfback Jay Berwanger. Though the Eagles traded him to his home town Chicago Bears, Berwanger decided against playing pro football. If he had chosen to play in the NFL, Berwanger would be Philadelphia’s most important draft pick.
Since drafting Berwanger, the Eagles have had their share of ups and downs. The team has not won a world’s championship since 1960. Philadelphia has made two trips to the Super Bowl losing them both so it may be a little tough coming up with an all-time best draft pick.
Here is a vote for Syracuse University quarterback and first round pick Donovan McNabb. The Eagles selected him in 1999 to the displeasure of Philly fans who wanted anyone but McNabb. He was booed on draft day as no Philadelphia fan thought McNabb would be the man to lead them to glory. The Eagles history was full of draft busts so to the locals there was no reason to believe McNabb would not be one himself.
Under the guidance of head coach Andy Reid, McNabb flourished. He had a solid rookie season then took off in 2000. In his second year with the team, McNabb led Philadelphia to the playoffs where they lost to the New York Giants. In 2001 he led them to their first NFC championship game in 21 years. The Eagles lost to the St. Louis Rams, but McNabb was on his way to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in pro football.
Philadelphia would go on to enjoy their most productive four year stretch since the AFL/NFL merger of 1970. From 2001 to 2004 the team played in four straight NFC title games. They came up short in the first three before finally winning and earning a trip to Super Bowl XXXIX. It was their first trip to the big game in 24 years. There they were defeated by the New England Patriots 24-21.
After the Super Bowl appearance McNabb had a strong case as the Eagles all-time top choice. In the next five years he would miss parts of three seasons with injuries. When he was healthy, McNabb led the Eagles to another NFC championship game in 2008. Philadelphia defeated the Minnesota Vikings and Giants on the road to get there then ran out of gas and lost to the Arizona Cardinals.
Though his career with Philadelphia would end by being traded to the Washington Redskins, McNabb left having accomplished more than just about any player in Eagles history. He had led them to seven playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.
One could make the case that he is the all-time best draft pick in Eagles history.