A little bit of everything
Philadelphia content with WR Mitchell at No. 25
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles got the help they wanted for Donovan McNabb.
The Eagles, seeking a playmaker on offense to complement McNabb, grabbed wide receiver Freddie Mitchell of UCLA with the 25th pick of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
"If I had to choose, I'd want a team with a good quarterback and a playoff-caliber team," said Mitchell, a flashy receiver who broke his leg badly in 1998. "I'm glad things worked out the way they did."
There were concerns Mitchell lost some of his speed following the leg injury, but reports said he ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"He's a combination of a little bit of everything," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "He's got good toughness and good hands to play in this offense."
Mitchell, a four-sport athlete in high school, played for UCLA's baseball team and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox.
He blossomed on the football field his junior season, making 68 receptions for more than 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He also threw two touchdown passes.
Mitchell capped his college career with an MVP performance in the Sun Bowl, catching nine passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. He was an All-Pac 10 choice and a finalist for the Bilitnekoff Award.
"He's got great hands and great body control," said Tom Modrak, director of football operations. "He knows how to play the game and he's really confident."
After winning just eight games total the previous two seasons, the Eagles won 12 games last year, including a playoff victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McNabb, in just his second season, emerged as one of the league's top stars, finishing second to St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk for NFL MVP.
But the Eagles' offense relied too heavily on McNabb. He threw for 3,365 yards and 21 touchdowns, and added a team-high 629 yards rushing and six TDs in the regular season. He set team records with 569 attempts and 307 completions, and accounted for 75 percent of the offense.
Philadelphia upgraded its receiving corps through free agency, signing speedy wideout James Thrash away from Washington and releasing Torrance Small. Thrash had 50 catches for 653 yards and two touchdowns with the Redskins.
But Charles Johnson, the No. 1 receiver, had 56 catches for 642 yards and seven TDs. McNabb's go-to receiver turned out to be tight end Chad Lewis, who made 69 catches en route to the Pro Bowl.
"It's very hard for a receiver to come in and start for a football team," Reid said. "We're going to ease him in and learn the system."
Mitchell was criticized for constantly taunting Wisconsin defenders in the Sun Bowl and has been labeled immature.
"A lot of people take that the wrong way," Mitchell said. "I broke my leg a couple years ago so I think it's a blessing to be on the field. Because of that, every time I make a play, I'm thankful, and I want to show it and my confidence."
Reid, who has stayed away from players with questionable character in the past, doesn't think there's anything to worry about with Mitchell.
"The first thing you'll see is he loves to play," Reid said. "He does it with emotion. He's not afraid to show his emotion. But the thing you'll see is he's a good person. He's a legitimate tough guy on the field."