Hits and misses with No. 4 pick

Posted: April 26, 2013

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BEN FRANKLIN said the only two sure things in life are death and taxes.

If he still were alive today, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't add the fourth pick in the NFL draft to that list.

That happens to be where the Eagles currently are stationed in tonight's first round. While they appear to be very interested in trading down and adding a pick or two in the later rounds, particularly if both of the draft's top-2 offensive tackles - Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher - are gobbled up ahead of them, there's no guarantee they're going to receive an offer enticing enough to relocate.

For the sake of argument, and the premise of this column, let's pretend they stay at No. 4. Can they possibly screw it up? Oh yeah.

Chip Kelly himself admitted last week that while this draft is blessed with depth at a lot of positions, there isn't a can't-miss player on the board. Not at 1 or 2. And definitely not at 4.

"There is not an Andrew Luck or RGIII or someone that you say, 'That guy's going to be a 10-year All-Pro, one of the best,' " the Eagles coach said. "I coached against Luck. He was as close as there was to a can't-miss guy. I don't see that type of guy in this draft at any position, to be honest with you."

There have been a lot more hits than misses at No. 4 in the last 20 years, but there have been misses. Or at least players who never lived up to fourth-pick expectations.

Four years ago, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry was considered a "safe" pick when the Seahawks selected him at No. 4. A solid player with an outstanding work ethic who might not appear on a lot of SportsCenter highlights, but would be a dependable starter for the next 10 years.

Well, Curry ended up spending just two-plus seasons with the Seahawks before getting traded to the Raiders. They released him last November. He's currently unemployed. So much for safe.

Remember Michael Westbrook? The Redskins took the Colorado wide receiver with the fourth pick in '95. He was in the league for eight seasons, but had just two seasons with 45 or more catches.

How about Mike Williams, the offensive tackle from Texas that the Bills selected at No. 4 in '02? He played just five seasons before he ate himself out of the league.

Running back Darren McFadden, who was taken fourth by the Raiders in '08, has rushed for 1,000 yards once in five seasons.

Another fourth-pick running back, Cedric Benson ('05) rushed for just 1,593 yards in three seasons with the Bears before they threw in the towel on him. He's still playing, but has had just three 1,000-yard seasons in 8 years.

Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson was the fourth pick in the '03 draft (by the Jets). He lasted just six seasons in the league. His final NFL numbers: 90 starts, 192 tackles, 16 sacks.

Don't despair, though, Eagles fans. There also have been some extraordinary success stories at No. 4.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, was the Ravens' fourth pick in the '96 draft. Spent 12 seasons as the team's starting left tackle, earning 11 Pro Bowl invitations.

Cornerback Charles Woodson, the fourth pick in the '98 draft (Raiders) is entering his 16th NFL season. He's been to eight Pro Bowls.

Linebacker Willie McGinest ('94, Patriots) played 15 seasons and had 86 career sacks. Running back Edgerrin James ('99, Colts) is the league's 11th all-time leading rusher.

Quarterback Philip Rivers ('04, Giants) has thrown for 27,891 yards and 189 touchdowns and has been to four Pro Bowls. Offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson ('06, Jets) has started every game at left tackle for the Jets since he was drafted and has earned three Pro Bowl invites.

Wide receiver A.J. Green ('11, Bengals) is 2-for-2 on Pro Bowls and had 97 receptions and 11 touchdowns last season.

This is the 10th time in the last 38 years that the Eagles have had a top-10 pick, but only the third time with a top-5 selection during that period.

They took Donovan McNabb with the second pick in the '99 draft, which turned out pretty well. Selected Penn State wide receiver Kenny Jackson with the fourth pick in the '84, which didn't. Jackson caught more than 30 passes just once in seven seasons with the team.

"When you're talking about the top players in this draft, you don't have the 'sexy' picks that you had last year," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "It's not [Andrew] Luck and RGIII.

"The flip side of that is, if you like linemen, there's a lot of them. Offensive and defensive linemen. There are playmakers here. Guys who can step in and play, and play for a long time."

Email: pdomo@aol.com

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