The Philadelphia Eagles needed to address its offensive firepower and protection early on at the 2021 NFL Draft and they did just that, laying the foundation for a successful selection process that takes some of the heat off the back of general manager Howie Roseman.
Of course, there’s much more work to be done to revamp this team into a legitimate contender in the NFC, but the Eagles ticked off most of the boxes they needed to address at the draft — that included trading up two spots to get the pass catcher that they wanted while becoming the first team in 16 years to take a wide receiver with back-to-back first-round picks. They took Jalen Reagor 21st overall last year.
In total, the Eagles made nine picks over the seven rounds of the draft. We delve into them here:
1st Round, Pick 10
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The 2020 Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award winner has heard all the concerns regarding his smaller frame, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most tantalizing wide-receiver targets in the game. Smith is lightning fast with the agility to create the kind of separation to get open more times than not. It was on full display last year with a nation-leading 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. The resume speaks for itself.
2nd Round, Pick 5 (37)
Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
The Eagles looked as though they found their center of the future in Dickerson, who won the Rimington Trophy in 2019, which is awarded to the top center in the nation. He was a first-team AP All-American and All-SEC selection while anchoring the Alabama offensive line to the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the top protection unit in the country. Last year he was limited by a knee injury, but he still took part in the national championship game.
3rd Round, Pick 9 (73)
Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
Williams was considered one of the best defensive lineman in Conference-USA last season, garnering first-team honors with 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 44 tackles this season. The hope is he’ll develop into a force on the interior of the Eagles’ defensive line.
4th Round, Pick 18 (123)
Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
In an attempt to bolster their pass defense, the Eagles took McPhearson, who starred last season at Texas Tech. The 5-foot-11 corner reeled in four interceptions and broke up another six passes with 53 tackle in 10 starts to gain first-team All-Big 12 honors.
5th Round, Pick 6 (150)
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
If the last few seasons of injuries taught the Eagles anything, it’s that they needed to address their depth issues in the backfield. Gainwell did not play last season due to COVID-19, which is why he might have fallen as far as he did, but in 2019, he was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference member and the AAC Rookie of the Year, rushing for 1,459 yards and 13 scores in 13 games.
6th Round, Pick 5 (189)
Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
Tuipulotu has been a consistent contributor on the Trojans’ line for the last two years. In 2020, he posted two sacks with 23 tackles (3.5 for loss), earning All-Pac-12 honors.
6th Round, Pick 7 (191)
Tarron Jackon, DE, Coastal Carolina
Jackson is slated to provide more of a boost on the special teams side of things. In college, though, he was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team AP All-American at Coastal Carolina with 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and 54 tackles.
6th Round, Pick 40 (224)
JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU
Stevens was a top-25 national recruit out of high school and put together a solid career at LSU. Last year saw him start all 10 games, leading the team with 63 tackles to go with three sacks and four pass breakups. he also tied for third in the FBS with three fumble recoveries.
7th Round, Pick 6 (234)
Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
The Eagles addressed their edge need with their final pick with a talent in Johnson who could very well be a steal in the seventh round. He was tied for the FBS lead last season with 10 sacks while posting 14.5 tackles for loss and 39 tackles overall.
Metro’s Grade: A-