April 27, 2011

1982: Forced to Settle, Eagles Draft Mike Quick in First Round

With the 20th pick in the first round of the NFL draft on April 27, 1982, the Philadelphia Eagles were looking to take a wide receiver. There were a few who were considered likely first round choices, and the Eagles were most interested in Perry Tuttle out of Clemson.

The Kansas City Chiefs snagged WR Anthony Hancock of Tennessee with the 11th pick. New Orleans took Georgia WR Lindsay Scott two choices later. It appeared that Tuttle would be available, but the Broncos, just ahead of Philadelphia in the 19th spot, traded the choice to Buffalo, and the Bills used it to take Tuttle.

Head Coach Dick Vermeil and the Eagles staff, disappointed at losing out on Tuttle, settled on WR Mike Quick from North Carolina State. To be sure, Quick had size (6’2”, 185 pounds) and was known as a good blocker, but was considered too slow.

“We actually were ready to pick Tuttle, but Denver made that trade and Buffalo got him,”
Vermeil said. “We are satisfied. We rated him (Quick) the third best wide receiver in the draft.”

“He's a big kid, very tough, and mature,” Vermeil added. “I think he can come in the first year and make a contribution.”

The contribution did not come quite so soon as Quick had a quiet rookie year in the strike-shortened ’82 season, catching 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown while playing behind the 33-year-old veteran Harold Carmichael and Ron Smith. The Eagles, who had gone to the Super Bowl two years before, suffered through a difficult 3-6 campaign and Vermeil resigned afterward.

It was a very different story for Quick in 1983, as he moved into the starting lineup across from Carmichael. He caught 69 passes for a league-leading 1409 yards and 13 touchdowns, and was a consensus first-team All-Pro as well as Pro Bowl selection. He had six 100-yard receiving games, including four straight early in the season. What he lacked in speed, Quick made up for in his ability to catch in traffic and run well after getting the ball. The young wide receiver’s performance was a highlight for a team that lost nine of its last 10 games to finish at 5-11 while also embroiled in front office instability.

Better things were hoped for in 1984, especially with the aging Carmichael let go to make room for another first round wide receiver, Kenny Jackson of Penn State. However, both receivers encountered injury problems, although Quick recovered to grab 61 passes for 1052 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson, who failed to live up to expectations, had just 26 catches for 398 yards and a TD.

The Eagles were a losing team from 1983 to ‘87, but Quick continued to perform well. During that period, he scored more touchdowns (53) than any other NFL receiver and had the third-most receiving yards (5437). He went to five consecutive Pro Bowls and was again a consensus first-team All-NFL selection in 1985. The league-leading yardage total of ’83 remained his career high, but was the first of three straight thousand-yard receiving totals for Quick, who caught a career-high 73 passes in ’85. His 99-yard touchdown on a slant pass from QB Ron Jaworski in 1985 tied the unbreakable NFL record and won a game against the Falcons in overtime.

Unfortunately, at the point that the Eagles were beginning to develop into a winning team again under Head Coach Buddy Ryan, Quick suffered injuries that greatly hindered his performance and ultimately forced his retirement following the 1990 season.

Five weeks into the ’88 season, in the process of making a difficult catch against the Houston Oilers, Quick suffered a broken leg that sidelined him for eight weeks. In 1989, a knee injury in the sixth game finished him for the year. In his last season, he appeared in just four games and caught 9 passes for 135 yards and one last touchdown.

Over the course of his career, Quick easily justified his first round selection in 1982. He caught a total of 363 passes for 6464 yards (17.8 avg.) and 61 TDs.

As for the receivers chosen ahead of Quick in ’82, Anthony Hancock lasted five years, returned kicks, and caught a total of 73 passes for 1266 yards and five touchdowns. Lindsay Scott stayed with the Saints for four seasons and ended up with 69 receptions for 864 yards and a score. Perry Tuttle, the receiver the Eagles had really wanted, played for three years and had 25 catches for 375 yards and three TDs.

The player that the Eagles had settled on in the first round proved far better than those rated higher at his position – one of many examples of the surprises that regularly occur in the NFL draft process.