The Eagles wrapped up their 2021 NFL draft with a total of nine picks, starting with DeVonta Smith in the first round and ending with Patrick Johnson in the seventh.
Six of their nine picks are defensive players.
Here’s the full list:
1-10: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
2-37: Landon Dickerson, iOL, Alabama
3-73: Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
4-123: Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
5-150: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
6-189: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
6-191: Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina
6-224: JaCoby Stevens, LB, LSU
7-234: Patrick Johnson, LB, Tulane
Grading a draft class instantly is a somewhat futile process. No one will really know if this was a good class or not for at least a couple years. But that doesn’t stop the grades from pouring in.
So let’s see how some experts think the Eagles did. We’ll list these grades from best to worst:
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Day1: A, Day 2: A-, Day 3: A
What they said: The Eagles became the first team in 16 years to use back-to-back first-round selections on receivers when they traded up two spots to pick Smith (they selected Jalen Reagor 21st overall last April). Smith is an outstanding talent who could very well prove worthy of sending their division-rival Cowboys a third-rounder for the two-spot swap. Dickerson was selected as a guard and could be center Jason Kelce’s replacement in a year or two, though his injury history made him a bit of a risk as a top-40 pick. Williams’ athleticism had earned him a spot in the third round. He'll give Philly some needed depth at defensive tackle.
They found the nickel corner they needed in McPhearson early in the fourth, then found value in the fifth round with a slasher, dual-threat back in Gainwell. Trading sixth- and seventh-round picks this year to Washington for a fifth next year was shrewd, if for no other reason than the fifth-rounder will play as a better trading chip if they need to make another move down the road. With Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett set to hit free agency soon, they were smart to nab Jackson in the sixth round. Stevens is a strong tackler and leader who could play linebacker or safety in the NFL.
Nate Davis, USA Today: A
What they said: If the mandate was indeed to provide direct support to second-year QB Jalen Hurts, not a much better way to do it than going to Alabama for Heisman Trophy-winning WR DeVonta Smith in Round 1 and highly regarded blocker Landon Dickerson in Round 2. Fifth-round RB Kenneth Gainwell could be a boon to a run game that hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since LeSean McCoy in 2014. And other pre-draft moves, including parting with QB Carson Wentz, mean this team is likely to have three first-rounders next year. Not bad.
Danny Kelly, The Ringer: B+
What they said: The Eagles sent Dallas a third-round pick to move up two spots in the first round and select Smith, but that seems worth it: They come away with a big-time playmaker and the no. 1 receiver for their offense. Philly doubled down on Alabama players by nabbing Dickerson, who should bolster the interior of their line right away. I’m intrigued by Gainwell, as the fifth-round pick could complement Miles Sanders and become a pass-catching threat in space. And on defense, the Eagles did well by nabbing Williams and Tuipulotu. The former has the tools to emerge as a subpackage rusher early in his career.
Ben Rolfe, Pro Football Network: B+
What they said: As a team, the Philadelphia Eagles did a solid job putting pieces around Jalen Hurts. They traded up to secure their No. 1 receiver, before taking a risk on Landon Dickerson. The Eagles added upside options to their defense, but there are still concerns.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: B
What they said: It’s fair to call this class solid but not spectacular for GM Howie Roseman, at least after the trade up to pick Smith. The Eagles went down the line addressing their needs and probably landed a couple near-future starters on top of Smith and Dickerson.
Thor Nystrom, NBC Sports Edge: B
What they said: The Eagles' punking Gettleman in Round 1 was high comedy. It had to feel especially sweet for Philly to get the last top-tier receiver before a big drop talent drop to Tier 2 while punking Gettleman and leaving his hated Giants out in the cold, only to panic-reach on the limited utility of Kadarius Toney. A strong Day 2 followed, with good value found on both Dickerson and Williams. The Williams pick produced the most hilarious moment of draft weekend, when Howie Roseman’s run around the room for congratulatory fist-bumps hit a snag when he offered knuckles to senior scout Tom Donahue, staring off into space in the corner of the room by himself -- as it turns out, seething in rage away from his colleagues who clearly disagreed with whatever alternate approach to the Williams pick he’d proposed. Donahue exchanged terse words to a visibly confused Roseman (who must have known darn well why Donahue was ticked). Incredibly, the exchange was caught during a live ESPN look into the Eagles war room. Don’t tell Donahue, but I’m with Roseman on the Williams pick. Either way, Philly picked up the pieces and made a pair of nice mid-Day 3 picks in Kenneth Gainwell and Marlon Tuipulotu. Strong draft that has the potential to become epic due to Smith’s Marvin Harrison ceiling and whether Donahue’s moment scolding Roseman like a child who came back late after curfew gets GIF treatment and becomes iconic ala Laremy Tunsil’s BongGate.
Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated: B-
What they said: Kudos to the Eagles for not leaving Jalen Hurts without a shot in 2021. The DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickerson picks go a long way toward healing an increasingly veteran offensive line and diversifying a wide receiver corps that has been threadbare over the past two seasons.
Dickerson, who is coming back from an ACL injury, represents the kind of high-upside injury bet that many teams made in the upper-middle rounds this year. While some won’t hit, Dickerson is a player who can operate at any position on the offensive line in a pinch, but right away will compete for a shot at guard.
Ryan Fowler, The Draft Network: B-
What they said: The lack of attention to cornerbacks and linebackers gets the “-” here, but the talent this team did add is impressive, especially considering the pure skill sets of Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams, Kenneth Gainwell, and Marlon Tuipulotu.
Luke Easterling, USA Today: B-
What they said: Jumping the Giants for DeVonta Smith was a smooth move, and I guess the Cowboys knew they’d have to deal with the Heisman winner either way, so they might as well get a third-round pick out of the deal. Landon Dickerson was a risky pick with his injury history, especially with the other centers who were still on the board. Milton Williams was the most underrated interior defender in this draft, and deserving of all the fist-bumps. Kenneth Gainwell was the best of multiple bargain picks on Day 3 that should help their depth on both sides of the ball.
What they said: Day 1: The Eagles need elite players at many different positions, and they get one by initially trading down but then trading up to take DeVonta Smith. The Heisman Trophy winner immediately becomes the best receiver on Philadelphia’s roster. All Smith did last season was produce a 94.9 PFF grade with 23 touchdowns. He can play either wide or in the slot — it doesn’t matter. His diminutive size may have scared some teams off, but he has shown he can get open against anyone.
Day 2: If it weren’t for injuries, Landon Dickerson would be a high first-round pick and one of the best offensive linemen in this draft. But multiple ACL injuries caused his stock to come with a significant medical red flag. Taking that gamble in the second round is a lot smarter than doing so in the first. The Eagles can look for him to replace Jason Kelce long-term and maybe find a starting spot at guard in the meantime.
Williams is undersized on the interior. However, he showed at a historically impressive Pro Day that he has the athleticism necessary to win at that size in the NFL. He took a big leap forward this past season, improving his PFF grade from 72.6 to 90.8 from 2019 to 2020. The Eagles are set at starter between Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, but Williams adds to the depth inside following the loss of Malik Jackson.
Day 3: The Eagles are getting incredible value for Patrick Johnson, a player ranked 92nd on PFF’s Big Board. He is a nice technical player but needs to create consistent value by showing up to play on every down. When he’s on his game, he is a very good player.
Matt Lombardo, Fansided: C
What they said: Thursday night in Round 1, Howie Roseman showed why he is one of the more adept NFL Draft wheelers and dealers in the league, but then the Eagles’ draft went careening off the tracks.
To be able to jump the division rival NY Giants, and take Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, who multiple sources tell FanSided was the top player on general manager Dave Gettleman’s board, and not surrender a future first-round pick to do so is a major victory. Smith is an electrifying downfield threat, and a major step towards building around second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, while maintaining the flexibility to trade up and take a quarterback with one of the top-selections in 2022.
However, even though Landon Dickerson hasn’t allowed a sack since 2017, the former Alabama guard/center is a major injury risk after two ACL tears. At best, Dickerson is a long-term replacement for Jason Kelce and an immediate starter at one of the offensive guard spots, at worst, he is an injury-risk and reach. It also feels like a significant reach to select Milton Williams, a defensive tackle along an already stout defensive front, especially when video of what appears to be front office division over the selection was broadcast to the world.
The Eagles needed to hit a home run in this class, and seem to have come out managing only a double.
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