Draft Reflections – 1996

Posted: June 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 14 Comments »

Some of you have asked for me to go back to old drafts and talk about who I wanted and what players I liked/didn’t like.  I can’t speak with great authority prior to 1996.  I was a draftnik then, but didn’t have the time and resources to know players thoroughly.

1996 was Ray Rhodes second year as Eagles head coach.  There was some good talent in place, but there were some definite needs.  We were desperate for a TE.  We needed a SAM LB.  We needed a QB to develop.  Since they let Greg Jackson leave, there was a hole at FS.

In the 1st round I had 2 players that really interested me.  I liked Texas A&M LB Reggie Brown quite a lot.  I was also a big fan of TE Jason Dunn.

The Eagles picked…OT Jermane Mayberry.

I wasn’t upset.  I’d read plenty about him and was fascinated.  I had no Texas A&M Kingsville tape (this was pre-DirecTV) so I had to rely on what I read more than anything.  The Eagles hoped Bernard Williams might come back, but there was a clear need for an OT or OG.  Mayberry had the build for both.  Mayberry got moved around too much by Rhodes and that stunted his development.  Andy Reid put him at RG and Jermane became a Pro Bowl blocker. Turned out to be a terrific pick.  The most memorable game in 1996 came with Mayberry at OT against Hugh Douglas.  Hugh ate him up (3 sacks I believe) and the Eagles struggled with a bad Jets team.  Even worse, the cable in my place went out for no reason and I missed part of the game.  The horror, the horror.

In the 2nd round of the draft the Eagles had a pair of picks.  They took my guy Jason Dunn.  They then added Brian Dawkins, a S/CB tweener from Clemson.  Dawk had the body and cover skills of a CB, but the hitting style of a S.  The plan was for him to sit as a rookie behind Eric Zomalt (that name isn’t made up) and for Dawk to be a key guy on the STs cover units.  The Eagles got lit up on STs in 1995 and it cost the team games.  Rhodes made STs a priority.

I was excited by Dunn and Dawk.  Dunn was huge and athletic.  The only reason he lasted to the bottom of the 2nd round was character issues.  We later found out he had lots of kids by lots of different ladies, amongst other things.  TE had been an issue since Keith Jackson left.  There were solid temps (Maurice Johnson, Mark Bavaro, Ed West), but no outright solutions. The Eagles hoped Reggie Johnson could be that guy, but he was just unfulfilled potential.  If the Eagles wanted to have Jon Gruden’s WCO thrive, a stud TE was needed.

Dawk was small, but could be a good role player and big time STer.  That was fine by me.  I didn’t think he’d be the FS because Eric Zomalt was set for that.  We’d read about him in Eagles Digest that offseason and were excited to see what he could do.

The 1996 QB class was bad.  The Eagles got very lucky to land Bobby Hoying in the 3rd round.  How bad was the class?  Tony Banks went to STL at pick 42.  Hoying was pick 85.  Those were the only QBs taken in the first 3 rounds.  I was stoked to get Hoying.  I knew he had some limitations, but thought he could develop into a starter.

In the 4th round the Eagles got a huge steal, in my mind.  They landed Ray Farmer from Duke.  He was a S/LB tweener.  Rhodes loved him.  On draft weekend, Rhodes told SalPal that Farmer was the staring LLB.  Farmer was also a phenomenal STs player.  He might be the best STer I’ve ever seen in college.  His ability to block kicks, make key tackles, and just be in the right spot was uncanny.  He blocked an NCAA record 8 PATs (not sure if that’s still a record).

The late rounds were non-descript.  6th round DE Steve White played in the league for several years, mainly as a backup in Tampa.

The 1996 class delivered mixed results.

Mayberry developed into a very good player, but only after Rhodes was fired.

Dunn flashed great talent, but wasn’t meant to be a pass catcher.  He later went to KC and became an outstanding blocker for them.

Dawk…became Dawk.

Hoying is the most complicated of them all.  He sat in ’96.  Bobby got on the field in 1997 and flashed star QB potential.  The Ravens sacked him 9 times in a game, but Hoying still went 26-38-276.  The next game was vs PIT, another stout defense.  Hoying was 15-31-246, with 2 TDs and no INTs.  We won that game.  The next start was his best ever in the NFL.  Hoying led the Eagles to a 44-42 win over Cincy.  He was 26-42-313, with 4 TDs and 1 INT.

Hoying struggled the next 2 weeks before having a good game in the season finale.  I remember thinking to myself that the season (6-9-1) wasn’t a waste because we had found ourselves a franchise QB.  Oops.

Gruden left.  Hoying had an appendectomy.  Hoying then got married.  Something happened in those events that affected him in a permanent way.  Hoying only had one good game after that.  He lost his mojo (like Trent Edwards) and it never came back.  Great pick in 1996.  Great promise in 1997.  Great misery after that.  So weird.

Farmer sat for a couple of games as a rookie before he finally became the LLB.  He was a good player.  He was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week in December 1996 when he led the Eagles to a 24-0 win over the Giants.  Farmer had a sack and INT.  He was all over the place.  Sadly, that was the peak of his career and our last shutout.

Farmer started 5 games in 1997, but a knee injury quickly ended his career.  Should have been a good player for a long time, but injuries are the ultimate x-factor.

* * * * *

For fun, here is a mock draft I did for 1996:

1 NYJ – WR Keyshawn Johnson
2 JAX – LB Kevin Hardy
3 ARZ – OT Jonathan Ogden
4 BAL – DE Simeon Rice
5 NYG – DT Darryl Gardner
6 STL – RB Lawrence Phillips
7 NE — DE Cedric Jones
8 CAR – RB Tim Biakabutuka
9 HOU – TE Rickey Dudley
10 CIN – OT Willie Anderson
11 NO – DE Tony Brackens
12 TB – DE Regan Upshaw
13 STL – WR Terry Glenn
14 SEA – DE Duane Clemons
15 DEN – CB Alex Molden
16 MIN – DT Marcus Jones
17 OAK – WR Marvin Harrison
18 CHI – CB Walt Harris
19 IND – CB Ray Mickens
20 MIA – LB John Mobley
21 DET – LB Reggie Brown
22 TB – WR Bobby Engram
23 DET – OL Pete Kendall
24 BUF – RB Leeland McElroy
25 PHI – TE Jason Dunn
26 BAL – RB Eddie George
27 GB – LB Ray Lewis
28 KC – TE Johnny McWilliams
29 PIT – RB Jerald Moore
30 DAL – WR Eric Moulds

I think I got 7 picks right.  I was way off on Eddie George.  I don’t remember if I thought he was overrated or would slide for some odd reason.

* * * * *

Donovan McNabb made some comments about his future and playing.  I had a reader ask me to write about his last couple of years with the Eagles.

I am happy to write about Donovan, but I’d like to know if this is something you want to hear about or is he ancient history and people are tired of him?

* * * * *

Someone asked about podcasts yesterday.  I am talking to Jimmy Bama about doing a podcast.  We’re working out the details.  It wouldn’t start for 2 or 3 weeks, but it is in the planning stage right now.  I’ll keep you updated.


14 Comments on “Draft Reflections – 1996”

  1. 1 TommyLawlor said at 4:14 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    In case you haven’t seen this, highlights from Fred Davis trial. He was his own attorney and the lady was her own attorney. This is comedy gold. You will crack up. Must read material.


  2. 2 A_T_G said at 11:52 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    Wow, the fact that he chose to represent himself, but didn’t even know the date might be the most damning evidence of brain trauma in NFL players I’ve seen.

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 12:13 AM on June 30th, 2012:

    That was a hilarious exchange.

  4. 4 juggadore said at 2:29 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    *Chaka cross-examination of Davis on April 10, 2012*

    _Chaka:_ Let’s look at these photos right here. Because I went to college. I go back to my homecoming every year. Why? Because a building on the campus named after a family of my family.
    _Davis:_ So, they use a pimp cup, that’s all.
    _Chaka:_ Mr. Davis, I’m drinking out of a decorated accessory as many celebrities do.
    _Davis:_ Many celebrities as who, Magic Don Juan that’s a pimp?
    _Chaka:_ As Paris Hilton, as Snoop Dog, as Little John—I work with celebrities. Don’t you think it could have been a gift from one of them?

  5. 5 nicolajNN said at 4:44 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    I didn’t start watching football till 2004/2005, and while I know about eagles history in broad-ish terms, there’s a lot of players etc I don’t know, so it’s fun to read stuff like this.

    I listen to a few podcast but no NFL ones, though I occasionally give Eagles Fan Cast a listen, but the prospect of a Lawlor-Jimmy podcast has me very excited

  6. 6 Mac said at 4:50 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    There was some blurb today on ESPN about Donovan saying he has a few teams he is considering. Even the hacks at ESPN were smart enough to point out that they may be teams who McNabb is interested in, but have shown no interest in him.
    On a related note, it appears David Gerrard may be the starting Qb for the Dolphin’s this year… weird.

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 8:02 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    Donovan needs help to get a job.

    It is odd that Garrard is in line to start, but we’ve got to see if he keeps this up through TC and the PS.

  8. 8 TheRogerPodacter said at 5:29 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    podcasts sound cool. get you and jimmy bama on the air, maybe bring in some of the others from the almanac team and it should be great.

    i dont know about everyone else, but i dont want to hear anything about donny until he actually suits up for a team in the regular season… i want to hide my ears from all of the garbage that is coming from him so that i can remember the good things he did for us.

  9. 9 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:12 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    I love reading these old notebook notes from you! This one is 9 years before I became a fan, but it is great to get a history lesson.

    I would love to get a weekly or monthly podcast from you guys. It’s great in draft-season when there’s a lot of podcasts around the internet, but a regular one with discussions about our beloved Eagles would be amazing.

    McNabb… Pheew, I actually am a bit tired of that guy right now, and he’s starting to mess with my image of the QB I liked (loved/hated). Maybe that’s a reason to do a write-up, so I can remember him for the good things..

  10. 10 Jay Austin said at 8:14 PM on June 29th, 2012:

    If you and “ByeDawk” did a podcast once a month (or 1/day), I’d d/l it.
    In re: Hoying.
    I have similar memories as you. I was roommates with a dude from SF (he was a big time Eagle fan – it’s the helmets man), and he was somehow a bigger overall sportsfan than I. He was stoked at the drafting of Bobby and ’97 gave the 2 of us great hope.
    I’ve long suspected that Rhodes’ success was because he made the right hire in John Gruden and it really showed when BH was free in the breeze.

  11. 11 tag1555 said at 1:46 PM on July 3rd, 2012:

    Tommy was hardly alone in thinking Hoying was the real deal: a whole chapter in Merrill Reese’s 1998 book “It’s Gooooood!” is devoted to Hoying praise. In fairness, BH really did look that good going into ’98, and the OL was so bad that year (gave up 56 sacks, including 9 in the season opener) that he really never stood a chance.

  12. 12 Allen3000 said at 7:55 PM on June 30th, 2012:

    I’m surprised you had John Mobley from div 2 Kutztown rated higher than Ray Lewis who was an absolute beast at Miami. Also, very surprised to see you had Eddie George that low considering he seemed to be the consensus #1 rb by almost everyone and appeared to have the most NFL ready body. Other than that, pretty amazing mock draft. Even your misses were close (bobby engram, Ogden, etc)

  13. 13 Matt Hoover said at 11:38 PM on June 30th, 2012:

    I love the looking back on past drafts, I hope your going to continue with this and do 97 all the way up to this past draft. I love the DMAC talk, any talk on him is fine with me

  14. 14 Jamie said at 6:08 AM on July 3rd, 2012:

    LOL, Rickey Dudley. That guy should’ve been a LB or something. He had to have to hardest stone hands I’ve ever seen. He couldn’t catch a cold in Alaska. He was also a basketball player and he couldn’t catch a basketball either.