Eagles 2021 Draft Class Grades and Mailbag

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2021 draft with 11 picks, the most in the draft. They ended the draft making 9 picks.

Round 1 – Pick 10 (from Dallas): WR DeVonta Smith – Alabama

Grade: A+

Smith was the first wide receiver to win the Heisman trophy in 29 years. He played alongside Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs and established himself as the outlier of that group by leading Alabama in receiving yards (1256) and touchdowns (14) in 2019. He stepped up after Jaylen Waddle’s mid-season injury and absolutely destroyed opposing defenses to the tune of 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2020. In totality, Smith accumulated 235 catches, 3,965 receiving yards, and 46 touchdowns in 4 years at Alabama.

This is an elite pick. Smith gives the Eagles a certified stud at the wide receiver position. The team has lacked a true alpha in the wide receiver room for quite some time. Smith changes that. Everything about Smith is different. At 6’1 166 pounds, his size has been a huge knock against him, but the guy has simply gotten the job done in every situation he’s been in. I have no reason to believe this will change at the NFL level.

Round 2 – Pick 37: C Landon Dickerson – Alabama

Grade: A-

This pick rubbed many fans the wrong way for a multitude of reasons. Sure, Dickerson isn’t a flashy pick and he does come with an injury history about as long as a CVS receipt, but he is one of the best (if not the best) offensive linemen in this draft class. NFL Network Analyst and former NFL offensive lineman, Brian Baldinger even went as far to say that Dickerson is as “close to Quentin Nelson,” as he’s seen over the last 3 draft cycles.

As stated, there are some injury concerns with Dickerson:

2016: Played 7 games. Season-ending ACL injury (right knee) at FSU

2017: Played 4 games. Season-ending ankle injury (right ankle) at

2018: Played 2 games. Had severe ankle sprain (left ankle) at FSU

2019: Played and started 13 games at Alabama

2020: Played 12 games. Tore ACL in SEC Championship Game (left knee) at Alabama

However, if we acknowledge the bad, we must also acknowledge the good. Dickerson allowed just one sack in 825 pass-blocking snaps in his college career. Dickerson is an extremely talented prospect, who will be an actor along the Eagles offensive line for many years if he can stay healthy. The thing that makes this pick most appealing is the fact that Dickerson’s worst trait is his health and if the only concerns about a player are from a health standpoint, nothing on-field or off-field, that’s a risk worth taking in my opinion. Dickerson is that talented.

Round 3 – Pick: 73: DT Milton Williams – Louisiana Tech 

Grade: B+

The measurements and traits with Williams are fascinating. He posted an almost perfect spider chart. Williams’ measurables are insane. They’re even on par with NFL All-Pro, Aaron Donald.

10 Yard Split1.65s*93rd percentile
20 Yard Split2.65s*94th percentile
40 Yard Dash4.67s*99th percentile
Vertical Jump38½”*99th percentile
Broad Jump121″*99th percentile
3-Cone Drill6.96s*99th percentile
20 Yard Shuttle4.33s*93rd percentile
Bench Press34 reps*87th percentile

Of course these are all testing numbers, but the traits are there for Williams. He possess a lightning quick first step out of his stance, strong and quick hands, and the ability to stuff the run.

Considering how high a value the Eagles personnel department places on analytics, the measurables likely rocketed Williams to the top of the Eagles draft board at the time of the selection. Long term I think, Williams projects best as defensive end who can kick inside on 3rd down. This pick has a ton of potential, just because of all the traits Williams has right now. If he can put it all together and turn those traits into ability, we could be looking at something special.

Round 4 – Pick 123: CB Zech McPhearson – Texas Tech

Grade: C+

McPhearson is a solid addition to the Eagles secondary. He isn’t a game changer, but he’s solid. He’s versatile, as he can play inside and outside and offers special teams usage. McPhearson plays with a high IQ, nice aggressiveness, and displayed some nice ball skills in his four year college career with 14 pass breakups.

McPhearson is a very solid football player. You can move him around, he can play either man or zone coverage, he’s not afraid to get physical as a tackler, and he has a long wingspan at 76 inches. McPhearson offers upside as an outside corner, who can also rotate inside at times. The Eagles are going to have to add a veteran to the defensive backfield at some point in the coming weeks.

Round 5 – Pick 150: RB Kenneth Gainwell – Memphis

Grade: A+

This might be my favorite pick in the entire draft class. The value is insane with this pick. I had Gainwell as my RB4. The 5’11 195 pound back gives the Eagles a high quality RB2 who can anchor the backfield if Miles Sanders goes down. Gainwell can operate as a change of pace back and offers versatility as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.

He can operate as a slasher in between the tackles as a runner and be used in the slot as a pass catcher. Gainwell gives the Eagles’ offense another dynamic dimension, in addition to Jalen Hurts running ability, Miles Sanders running ability, and the usage of players like Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins on screens.

Round 6 – Pick 189: DT Marlon Tuipulotu – USC

Grade: A

This is another one of my favorite picks, that is also insane value. For the Eagles to be able to add a player of Tuipulotu’s caliber this late in the draft is amazing. If you remember from my ‘Fitting the Birds Bill’ profile series and draft board, I had Tuipulotu as a 3rd-4th round graded player.

Tuipulotu can play both the zero and three technique alignments. He can move really well for his size and his possesses superb strength. Tuipulotu makes his money as a run stuffer though. He has the ability to disengage blockers, move laterally and eliminate runners.

Round 6 – Pick 191: DE Tarron Jackson – Coastal Carolina

Grade: B+

As I stated on Twitter, this pick was a shot in the dark type of pick to me. Jackson had insane production in 4 years at Coastal Carolina. He amassed 188 total tackles, 24.5 sacks, 42 (!) tackles for a loss, and 6 forced fumbles. He’s a high motor pass rusher who could develop into a nice rotational piece for the Eagles defensive line.

Round 6 – Pick 225: S/LB JaCoby Stevens – LSU

Grade: B-

The word that has consistently popped up with Stevens is: leader. At LSU, Stevens wore the number 7 which is an honored tradition at LSU. The number is worn by the top playmakers and leader of the Tigers football team.

Stevens is a safety/linebacker hybrid type of player. He’s a physical tackler and has displayed adequate ball skills in his 3 year career as a safety. Stevens shined at LSU’s Pro Day with an impressive 42-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump. Stevens has nice traits and a ton of upside that should help him find a role with the Eagles as either a sub-package player or special teams ace.

Round 7 – Pick 234: DE Patrick Johnson – Tulane

Grade: B+

I was surprised Johnson lasted until the 7th round. Johnson has a lot of traits you’d want in an NFL defensive end. He has a high motor, active hands, and a powerful punch. Johnson had 132 tackles, 35 tackles for a loss and 21 sacks in 4 years at Tulane. He lacks length but is a very comptetive player.


Mailbag Time

Yes.

  • To me, McPhearson projects best as a bit of both. He isn’t the tallest and he isn’t the shortest. I saw a comp for him as a faster Jalen Mills and after watching him, that rings true. He’s an instinctual defender, isn’t afraid to get physical, and versatile.
  • I think the Eagles will eventually find a trade partner and move Ertz. That could come in the next 4-5 weeks or it could come during the season once the trade deadline gets closer. The Eagles save $8.5 million if Ertz is traded or cut post June 1st.
  • I think if Dickerson is healthy, he will. He’s that talented. Howie Roseman has said that the organization doesn’t think this is gonna be a redshirt rookie year for Dickerson and if he’s healthy he’s one of, if not the most talented linemen on the roster. And that’s not to take anything away from Seumalo, but Dickerson when healthy has All-Pro level potential.

Gainwell is probably my favorite pick in this draft. The value where they got him is amazing. He adds a dimmension to the offense with his running and receiving ability and is very good in pass protection. My comp for Gainwell is Austin Eckler. The two have similar styles in terms of being slashing styles of backs, while also maintaining dual threat ability.

  • Washington Football Team: A
  • Philadelphia Eagles: B+
  • New York Giants: B
  • Dallas Cowboys: C+

Washington picked up a ton of talent in this draft. I think they might have gotten some of the best value in the draft with Dyami Brown in the 3rd round. Benjamin St. Juste was another pick I liked for them, as well as, Dax Miline in the 7th round.

New York started the draft nice with 2 very good back to back picks in the 1st and 2nd rounds in Toney and Ojulari. They also added a nice pick on day 3 in Elerson Smith who had 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2019.

The Cowboys had an up and down draft. Their first round pick, Micah Parsons is talented, but with what they ask their linebackers to do in terms of coverage, I don’t know if the fit is truly there, he is an impactful defender though. They also had one of the more questionable picks in the draft with their 3rd round selection of Nahshon Wright who was projected as a 5th-6th rounder by most. They then rebounded by selecting LSU linebacker, Jabril Cox in the 4th round.

The Eagles draft was mainly about the future. They fortified the trenches, got a stud at wide receiver, and got a great RB2 in Kenneth Gainwell. With the draft they’ve had, they set themselves up for the 2022 offseason in which they’re likely to have 3 first round picks, over $70 million in cap space, and a year to see what QB Jalen Hurts is.

Author: Pierre Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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