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FightinforPhilly.com ranks 10 all-time Eagles draft steals…

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Here’s a break from the current events of the day, and also a reminder that every now and then the Philadelphia Eagles have a tendency to strike gold in the nether regions of the NFL Draft.

This is a reprise of a column written by Jaison Simmons for FightinforPhilly.com … it’s a fun read because it reminds us we can analyze and engineer all we want, but sometimes your best players end up being the ones you never knew were in the pre-draft conversation.

Here’s Jaison Simmons’ piece:

“With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, it’s time to look back at the best draft steals in team history. And some of them might surprise you.”

10. OT Al Wistert 1943 5th Rd, 32nd Overall, Michigan, Years with Eagles: 1943-1951— One of the best offensive linemen of the 1940’s, Al “Ox” Wistert was a part of two Eagles championship teams (1948, 1949). A member of the NFL 1940’s All-Decade Team… Named to eight All-Pro teams and one Pro Bowl selection (1950)… A member of the Eagles Hall of Fame (inducted in 2009)…. #70 retired by Eagles.

9. RB Wilbert Montgomery 1977 6th Rd, 154th Overall, Abilene Christian, Years with Eagles: 1977-1984— A member of the 1980 NFC championship team… Eagles rushing records: 6,538 rushing yards, 26 100-yard games, 8 100-yard games in a season, 4 touchdowns in a game, 1,512 rushing yards in a season (record broken by LeSean McCoy in 2013)… Named to two All-Pro teams and two Pro Bowl selections (1978, 1979)… A member of the Eagles Hall of Fame (inducted in 1987).

8. TE Brent Celek 2007, 5th Rd, 162nd Overall, Cincinnati, Years with Eagles: 2007-present— A large target and security blanket for Eagles QB’s since he was drafted… In 2008, he set franchise records for Eagles TE’s with 131 yards in a game and 10 catches in a playoff game… In 2009, he led the team with 76 catches (franchise record for a TE) and a career high eight touchdowns…

7. LB William Thomas 1991, 4th Rd, 104th Overall, Texas A&M, Years with Eagles: 1991-1999 — During his Eagles tenure, he collected 33 sacks and 18 interceptions… Member of the 20/20 Club… Named to two Pro Bowl selections (1995, 1996).

6. DE Trent Cole 2005, 5th Rd, 146th Overall, Cincinnati, Years with Eagles: 2005-present — Drafted by the Eagles with the pick acquired from Washington via trade (for WR James Thrash), Trent Cole has been a productive player… His 79 sacks are currently 2nd all-time on the Eagles sack list… Named to the 2005 NFL All-Rookie Team, the 2009 All-Pro Team, and two Pro Bowl selections (2007, 2009)…

5. DB Tom Brookshier 1953, 10th Rd, 117th Overall, Colorado, Years with Eagles: 1953, 1956-1961 —Despite missing the 1954 and 1955 seasons (served in the United States Air Force) and only playing 7 seasons, Brookshier had 20 interceptions throughout his career… A member of the Eagles 1960 championship team… Named to two Pro Bowl selections (1959, 1960)… A member of the Eagles Hall of Fame (inducted in 1989)… #40 retired by Eagles…

4. DE Clyde Simmons 1986, 9th Rd, 233rd Overall, Western Carolina, Years with Eagles: 1986-1993 — Underrated throughout his career, Clyde Simmons was one of the best defensive ends in team history… He had 76 sacks during his Eagles tenure and led the NFL in sacks during 1992 season… Named to two All-Pro teams and two Pro Bowl selections (1991, 1992)… Member of the 100 sacks club… Member of Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary team…

3. RB Brian Westbrook 2002, 3rd Rd, 91st Overall, Villanova, Years with Eagles: 2002-2009 — Brian Westbrook won the hearts of Eagles fans throughout his career… During his Eagles tenure, he had 10,770 all-purpose yards (5,995 rushing and 3,790 receiving), 426 catches and 68 total touchdowns… A member of the 2004 NFC Championship team… Named to two All-Pro teams and two Pro Bowl selections (2004, 2004)… Member of Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary team…

2. WR Harold Carmichael 1971, 7th Rd, 161st Overall, Southern, Years with Eagles: 1971-1983 — In his 13 years with the Eagles, he caught 589 passes for 8,978 yards and 79 touchdowns (all Eagles records)… Member of the 1980 NFC Championship team… Member of the NFL 1970’s All-Decade team… Named to one All-Pro team (1973) and four Pro Bowl selections (1973, 1978, 1979, 1980)… Member of the Eagles Hall of Fame (inducted in 1987)…

1. RB Steve Van Buren 1944, 1st Rd, 5th Overall, LSU, Years with Eagles: 1944-1951 — Yes, he was a first round pick, but not many at the time thought he would do well in the NFL. Boy, they were wrong… At the time of his retirement, his 5,860 rushing yards and 69 touchdowns were not only Eagles records, but NFL records… A member of two NFL World Championship teams (1948, 1949)… A member of the NFL 1940’s All-Decade Team… Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 1965)… 4 time Rushing Champion (1945, 1947, 1948, 1949)… Named to five All-Pro teams (1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949)… Member of the NFL 75th Anniversary team… Member of Eagles Hall of Fame (inducted in 1987)… #15 retired by Eagles…

Honorable Mentions:
LB Seth Joyner 1986, 8th Rd, 208th Overall, Texas-El Paso, Years with Eagles: 1986-1993 — Named to three All-Pro Teams and three Pro Bowl selections (1991, 1992, 1994)…

C Jason Kelce 2011, 6th Rd, 191st Overall, Cincinnati, Years with Eagles: 2011-present — A solid performer with his signal-calling and blocking, Kelce is winning over a new generation of local and national fans with his style of play at center…

DE Reggie White 1984, Supplemental Draft, 1st Rd, Tennessee, Years with Eagles: 1985-1992 — You cannot overlook the Minister of Defense, despite the fact that he went on to Green Bay to achieve his greatest glory… Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 2006) … ”

Thanks to Jaison Simmons for that template of justification for belief in later round talent rising to the top. Amazingly, I had forgotten that Reggie White was selected in a Supplemental draft round !

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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