The Eagles don’t have the greatest history of drafting quarterbacks.
They’ve had some good signal-callers over the years — guys like Ron Jaworski, Norm Snead and Norm Van Brocklin all had great careers in green. But none of them were drafted by the franchise.
In their history, the Eagles have selected a quarterback in the first two rounds only six times. This includes only three first round picks.
While Nick Foles’ future looks bright, less than a full season doesn’t make you eligible for the list in my eyes. Here’s a look at the three best quarterbacks the Eagles have ever drafted.
3. Sonny Jurgensen
A blast from the past, Jurgensen was drafted by Philadelphia in the fourth round of the 1957 NFL draft. He was Van Brocklin’s backup when the Eagles won their only championship back in 1960.
When Van Brocklin retired after that season, Jurgensen would take over as the starter. In 1961, he threw for 3,723 yards and 32 touchdowns, was named an All-Pro and went to the Pro Bowl.
His 1962 season was a similar story, when he threw for 3,261 yards and 22 touchdowns. In both of those two seasons, he led the NFL in passing yards each time.
Jurgensen battled injuries in 1963, and was eventually traded to the Washington Redskins in 1964 in exchange for Norm Snead. He’d find success in Washington, going to four more Pro Bowls.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
2. Randall Cunningham
Cunningham was drafted in the second round of the 1985 NFL draft by the Eagles, a year after the team finished 6-9-1. He spent his first two seasons in Philadelphia on the bench, backing up Ron Jaworski.
Cunningham really got going late in the 1986 season, when Jaworski went down with an injury. He started five games that season, throwing for 1,391 yards and eight touchdowns.
It wasn’t until 1987 when Cunningham finally got the nod as the full-time starter. In a four year stretch until 1990, Cunningham threw for 13,460 yards and 98 touchdowns. He also rushed for 2,692 yards as well.
The Eagles would go to the playoffs three times in that span, and Cunningham would be the NFL’s MVP in both 1988 and 1990.
He tore his ACL in the 1991 season, and never fully recovered after that. He was never able to play a full 16 games in an Eagles uniform again, and his only solid season would be in 1992.
Despite a short sting of effectiveness, Cunningham had a pretty solid career with the Eagles.
1. Donovan McNabb
The best quarterback in Eagles history, McNabb was drafted by the Eagles with the second-overall pick back in 1999. A contingent of Birds fans at the draft really wanted running back Ricky Williams from Texas, and they voiced their displeasure when the McNabb pick was made.
What ensued would wind up being one of the greatest careers by any player in Eagles history. McNabb would set Eagles franchise records for most passing yards (32, 873), touchdowns (216), most starts as a quarterback (142) and most wins (92).
McNabb had his fair share of critics, most of which developed due to his inability to win a Super Bowl. He led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games, but was only able to reach the Super Bowl one time. That one time resulted in a loss to the New England Patriots.
Even considering this, McNabb is the obvious choice as the best quarterback the Eagles drafted. Forget about the playoff woes — for the better part of a decade, the Eagles were perennial contenders in the NFL. They were almost always the favorite to win the NFC East, and football in Philadelphia was a luxury. McNabb was the franchise quarterback the Eagles needed, especially after hiring Andy Reid.
The Eagles struck gold with the McNabb pick. Of the quarterbacks that followed him the draft, only Daunte Culpepper made any sort of impact in the NFL.
McNabb went to six Pro Bowls, was the NFC Player of the Year in 2004 and had his iconic No. 5 retired by the Eagles this past year.