NFL Draft 2022: How the Eagles would make history with another 1st-round wide receiver

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How the Eagles would make history with another 1st-round wide receiver originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Very few teams in NFL history have tried as hard as the Eagles to find wide receivers.

Mainly because very few teams in NFL history have failed as spectacularly trying to find wide receivers.

So they keep trying.

From Kenny Jackson to Freddie Mitchell to Jalen Reagor, the Eagles have missed more than they’ve hit when it comes to 1st-round wideouts.

Hits: Mike Quick in 1982, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and DeVonta Smith in 2021.
Misses: Jackson in 1984, Mitchell in 2001, Nelson Agholor, 2015, Reagor in 2020.

From 1984 through 2020, the Eagles drafted five WRs in the first round, and four of them appeared in our Greatest Busts in Eagles History earlier this week.

Not good.

The 2nd-round hasn’t been so great either, although it did produce DeSean Jackson in 2008. Mike Bellamy, Victor Bailey and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside were misses, Todd Pinkston and Reggie Brown had their moments but were ultimately disappointments and Jordan Matthews had a very good first few years before drifting out of relevance.

Add it up and you have a team that hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl WR in 14 years, has drafted just one in the last 20 years, just two in the last 40 years, just three in the last 50 years.

And it’s hard to find bigger misses in consecutive years with 1st- and 2nd-round picks than Arcega-Whiteside and Reagor.

Which brings us to this year’s draft.

It sure seems possible the Eagles will once again take a receiver early. Smith had a promising rookie year, Quez Watkins was very good for a second-year 6th-round pick and Zach Pascal is a functional backup.

But if the Eagles are serious about surrounding Jalen Hurts with enough talent to flourish, that’s not nearly enough.

And they know it.

This draft has terrific receiver talent in both the first and second rounds, and the Eagles have three of the first 51 picks.

Everything points to the Eagles cranking it up and doing it again.

How can they not?

If they do take a receiver in the first round, they would become only the second team in NFL history to draft one three straight years, and if they take one in the first or second round, they’d be only the fourth team ever to take a receiver in the first or second round in four straight years.

Let’s take a quick look how it went for those other teams:

VIKINGS, 1965-1969: The Vikings drafted Jack Snow in the 1st round and Lance Rentzel in the 2nd round in 1965, Gene Washington in the 1st round and Bob Grim in the 2nd round in 1967 and Volly Murphy in the 2nd round in 1969. That’s five WRs in the first two rounds in a five-year span. Snow and Rentzel had solid careers but with other teams. Washington was a two-time Pro Bowler and Grim made one Pro Bowl, although he only caught 96 passes in seven seasons with Minnesota. Murphy never played. Not the most inspiring drafts, but the Vikings were very good throughout the late 1960s and late 1970s so they were doing something right.

COWBOYS, 1990-1993: The Cowboys drafted Alexander Wright in the 2nd round in 1990, Alvin Harper in the 1st round in 1991 and then Jimmy Smith and Kevin Williams in the 2nd round in 1992 and 1993. Wright was a colossal bust, Harper had a couple OK seasons but was pretty close to a bust for the 12th pick overall, Smith had a Hall of Fame-caliber career but for the Jaguars, and Williams barely had 1,000 yards in four years in Dallas. Of course, the Cowboys already had Michael Irvin, so they wound up winning three Super Bowls in four years despite missing on so many WRs.

BROWNS, 1999-2002: The Browns drafted 2nd-round receivers four straight years – Trenton’s Kevin Johnson in 1999, then Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan and Andre’ Davis. Johnson, Northcutt and Morgan were decent, but the Browns’ problem is that they never got those guys a QB (Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Brady Quinn, Kelly Holcombe, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, etc.). But all in all a successful run of WR draft picks.

LIONS, 2003-2005: The only team that’s taken a WR in the first round three straight years, and all were top-10 picks: Charles Rodgers No. 2 in 2003, Roy Williams No. 7 in 2004 and Mike Williams No. 10 in 2005. Why did they keep trying? Rodgers, after a brilliant college career at Michigan State, was a disaster in the NFL, Roy Williams had one big season and did nothing else, and Mike Williams was another catastrophe. Because those picks went so poorly, the Lions tried again in 2007, drafting a WR for the fourth time in five years. That was Calvin Johnson. Lesson: Keep trying.

If you need a wide receiver, you can’t bypass a potentially elite one who’s available just because of previous misses.

The Eagles have to keep trying. And they have to stop missing.