NFL rookies are assigned uniform numbers by their new teams. Two of the five Eagles draft picks were given their college numbers and all of the numbers distributed should bring back memories for Eagles fans.
When players get to pick their number, it isn’t always random. There is intent, superstition, maybe a tribute. Players have to work their way around the retired numbers and the no-longer-in-circulation numbers to hopefully get what they want.
No. 1 pick Jordan Davis was assigned No. 90. He wore No. 99 at the University of Georgia but that number belonged to Eagles defensive tackle Jerome Brown.
In 1992, Brown and his 12-year-old nephew were killed in an automobile accident in Brooksville, Fla. In his five-year career, the beloved Brown made the Pro Bowl twice and was on the way to a possible Hall of Fame career.
The Eagles retired Brown’s No. 99 in September 1992, months after the fatal accident.
Davis’ No. 90 has seen success and failure with the Eagles. Corey Simon was a force at defensive tackle, starting 78 games over five years (2000-04).
Mike Golic, who carved out a sustained broadcasting career with ESPN, also wore No. 90 and started every game at defensive tackle on great Eagles defensive teams from 1988-92.
NOT ALL GOOD WITH NO. 90
The downside of No. 90 is painful and includes two No. 1 draft busts — Marcus Smith (in 2014) and Jon Harris (in 1997).
Harris played 24 games in two years, accumulating two sacks at defensive end. He was the brainchild of head coach Ray Rhodes, who thought Harris’ size (6-foot-7) would be a force when he rushed quarterbacks.
Harris wasn’t much of a force. He had one sack each season. Harris was thought to be a third-round talent before the draft and Rhodes’ gamble to pick him at No. 25 overall backfired.
Smith played 37 games in three years, with zero starts, and made only 23 tackles. He was considered a bust given his first-round status (26th overall).
This year’s second-round pick Cam Jurgens was given No. 51, his number at Nebraska. He was a center for the Cornhuskers, starting every game in 2021. He started 18 consecutive games to close his career.
When center Jason Kelce retires — you might hear Eagles fans screaming “NO!!” in the background — the Eagles hope they found his replacement in Jurgens. Solid linebackers William Thomas and Reggie Wilkes also wore No. 51.
17 GOES ON THE DEFENSE
Third-round pick Nakobe Dean, a linebacker from Georgia, was assigned his college number, 17. That number has offensive significance for the Eagles. Hall of Fame receiver Harold Carmichael wore 17 and Super Bowl champion Alshon Jeffery also wore that number.
Dean better not get too accustomed to his No. 17. With Carmichael being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, his uniform number might be retired at some point by the team.
Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson wore No. 15 in college but was given No. 58. Linebackers Ike Reese, Anthony Griggs and Jordan Hicks plus defensive end Trent Cole wore No. 58. That’s not bad company for the sixth-round pick.
Tight end Grant Calcaterra was another sixth-round pick. He wore No. 88 at SMU. He was given a famous number in recent Eagles lore, No. 47.
When Trey Burton joined the Eagles in 2014, he wore No. 47. He switched to No. 88 before the 2017 season. Burton threw the most famous touchdown pass in Eagles history when he lofted a ball to quarterback Nick Foles against the Patriots in Super Bowl 52. He wore No. 88 in that Super Bowl but many Eagles fans remember him as No. 47.
The pass was the only one Burton attempted in his NFL career. A pass that never will be forgotten — even if Burton’s new number might be.