Strong Claim to No. 74 has Yet to be Made

Ed Kracz

Some uniform numbers in Eagles history are still waiting for someone to come along and make it their own, to take ownership of it to the point when a fan thinks of that number they think, ‘Oh yeah, so-and-so wore that number.’

So it is with the No. 74.

There aren’t three players really worthy of being among the top three to wear, but that is the assignment – rank the top three in a jersey countdown to kickoff that coincides with how many days remain until the Eagles are supposed to open their regular season, which is on Sept. 13 against the Washington Redskins.

Here is what we came up with:

Current number 74:

Daeshon Hall. Could Hall rise up and become that take-charge player No. 74 so badly needs? He had a strong preseason last year but wasn’t given much of an opportunity once the season began, playing just 52 defensive snaps in 13 games. There is opportunity at defensive end, with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett the only sure things, along with maybe Josh Sweat.

His college resume at Texas &M, which helped him get drafted by Carolina in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, is solid, with 36.5 tackles for loss with Aggies along with 16 sacks and 24 QB pressures in 52 games (32 starts).

Top 3 to wear number 74:

3. Winston Justice. I know what you’re thinking but remember what I just wrote – this is a number starving for success. Justice may always be remembered for his first NFL start in which he gave up six sacks against Osi Umenyiura of the New York Giants on Sept. 20, 2007. His second start against Julius Peppers went much smoother, however.

The offensive tackle was taken in the second round of the 2007 draft out of USC, though he was widely considered a first-round talent. He never panned out, however.

Despite making 29 starts over a two-year span with Philly, he lasted just seven seasons while playing for three different teams and appeared in just 63 games.

2. Bernard Williams. Oh, what could have been for the 6-8 offensive tackle from Georgia, who the Eagles made the 14th overall pick in 1994. Williams made the NFL’s All-Rookie team after making all 16 starts, but he tested positive for marijuana several times and never played in the league because he never applied for reinstatement.

Williams took several years off and had some stints with the XFL’s Memphis Maniax, AFL’s Detroit Fury, and the CFL’s BC Lions and Toronto Argonauts.

1. Mike Pitts. The defensive lineman had already established himself with four years in Atlanta after the Falcons selected him 16th overall from Alabama in the 1983 draft. Pitts spent the next six seasons in Philly, playing in 79 games with 52 starts.

Still, he was unable to eclipse the sack total he put up in Atlanta, where he had 25. With the Eagles, Pitts had 19.5 sacks.

Runner-up:

Leonard Mitchell. The Eagles’ first-round pick, and 27th player taken overall in 1981, the defensive lineman made 43 starts in six years with Philly and played in 77 games.

Others:

Walter Barnes, Frank Wydo, Len Szafaryn, Jerry DeLucca, Riley Gunnels, Frank Molden, Steve Smith, John Niland, Donnie Green, Leonard Mitchell, Tim Mooney, Gerald Nichols, Edward Jasper, Doug Brzezinski, Jeremy Bridges, Nate Menkin, and T.Y. McGill.

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