Eagles come away with seven of Daniel Jeremiah’s top-150 prospects
The 2021 NFL Draft has concluded and other than DeVonta Smith in the first round, the Eagles didn’t make many flashy moves. That isn’t to say that they didn’t have a productive draft, however, as they did find sneaky value and fill some key positions of need, even if they didn’t address every hole on the roster.
When it comes to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah and his top prospects, seven of the Eagles nine draft picks were within his top-150:
|Draft Prospect||Player Ranking||Pick Selected|
|WR DeVonta Smith||#6||No. 10 overall|
|C Landon Dickerson||#40||No. 37 overall|
|DT Milton Williams||#72||No. 73 overall|
|RB Kenneth Gainwell||#78||No. 150 overall|
|CB Zech McPhearson||#85||No. 123 overall|
|LB Patrick Johnson||#124||No. 234 overall|
|DT Marlon Tuipulotu||#126||No. 189 overall|
Jeremiah had the Heisman Trophy winner as the sixth-best prospect in this year’s draft. This is the second consecutive year that the Eagles have selected a WR in the first round, but Smith was too good to pass up on. The Eagles haven’t had a 1,000+ yard WR since Jeremy Maclin in 2014 and Smith gives them the true dynamic No. 1 receiver that they’ve been lacking. Smith’s 166-pound frame raised some concerns throughout the process, but when you draw comparisons to Marvin Harrison it’s difficult to ignore.
DeVonta Smith spoke recently on the possibility of playing with Jalen Hurts again, and now he’s been afforded that chance. The “Slim Reaper” dominated the SEC over the last 3 seasons:
- 227 receptions
- 3,835 yards
- 43 TDs
- 16.9 yards/catch
Smith is the first Alabama player to be drafted by the Eagles since 2002. They’ve shown a sign of commitment to Hurts by bringing in one of his Alabama weapons and the Eagles still hold four picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft.
Holy hell it wasn’t a dream. DeVonta Smith is an Eagle. pic.twitter.com/zfAd6qJ4xw— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 30, 2021
Dickerson is a homerun pick if his health checks out. With Jason Kelce pondering retirement every year and no real depth behind him, the Eagles needed to secure their center of the future. His Alabama ties to Jalen Hurts as well as DeVonta Smith only make this pick more intriguing and he’s been one of the best in run-blockers in the draft.
Highest career run-blocking grade, per PFF:
- Penei Sewell: 94.8
- Landon Dickerson: 93.9
- Brady Christensen: 91.2
- Tevan Jenkins: 90.3
- Christian Darrisaw: 90.2
The Alabama product would’ve been a first-round talent if not for injury concerns. Dickerson tore his ACL in 2016, had ankle injuries the following two years then tore his other ACL last season in the SEC Championship game. Assuming the Eagles did their medical research, Dickerson will anchor that offensive line for years to come.
Williams is a versatile defensive lineman that has all the traits of a 3-down player in the NFL. Williams’ Pro Day increased his stock mightily throughout the draft process, drawing comparisons to Aaron Donald. At 6’4″, 278 pounds, Williams has the potential to be a double-digit sack player in the league with the right coaching and scheme.
Williams recorded 44 tackles (10 for loss), 24 combined QB hits and hurries, and 4.5 sacks last season. He was also the sixth-best rated interior defensive lineman heading into the draft, per PFF. Adding him to a rotation that already consists of Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Hassan Ridgeway will only make the defensive line more lethal.
Eagles 3rd RD pick benched 500 lbs last month— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Hello Milton Williams
The Eagles found incredible value with McPhearson in the 4th-round. McPhearson was first-team All-Big 12 last season with 53 tackles, 4 INTs, and 10 passes defended. The Eagles desperately needed to address the CB position with Darius Slay turning 30 back in January and Avonte Maddox allowing a 108.3 passer rating when targeted last season.
McPheasron was the 4th-highest graded CB v. power five WRs over the last two seasons, per PFF:
- Patrick Surtain II: 91.3
- Derek Stingley Jr: 91.0
- Caleb Farley: 90.0
- Zech McPhearson: 90.0
McPhearson is a willing defender in the run game despite his 5’11”, 195-pound frame. He stays engaged in coverage downfield with quick feet and fluid hips. McPhearson comes from an athletic family, with his father playing defensive back at Boston College and eventually trying out for the Patriots in 1988. His mother played running back and offensive line in the National Women’s Football League. In addition, Zech’s seven siblings all have ties to collegiate or pro sports.
Texas Tech’s Zech McPhearson could be a steal of the 2021 #NFL Draft. He’s also got maybe the best bloodlines of his class: Mom and Dad are former pros, and all seven (7!) siblings played college sports.— Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) April 27, 2021
Special pre-draft Q&A w/ Zech and the family: https://t.co/0EQRWYD2yu pic.twitter.com/juREq4T3kz
I’m not particularly sure how this guy managed to slip to the 5th-round. Gainwell opted out of the 2020 season but had a highly productive 2019 campaign:
- 1,459 rushing yards
- 51 receptions
- 610 receiving yards
- 16 total TDs
The Memphis product was a projected 3rd-4th round pick and led the American Athletic Conference in scrimmage yards in 2019 while finishing fourth in the country in total scrimmage yards. Gainwell is a two-way dynamic threat with tremendous upside and will allow Nick Sirianni to be even more creative with his offense. While his frame may not allow him to handle a 3-down workload, his pass-catching ability will complement Sanders well in a Nyheim Hines-type role for the foreseeable future.
Kenneth Gainwell in 2019 (ranking amongst draft-eligible RBs):— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) May 2, 2021
• 610 receiving yards (1st)
• 20 forced missed tackles (1st)
• 51 receptions (2nd)
• 14 explosive plays (2nd) pic.twitter.com/Ra85X2XX1p
Tuipulotu came into the draft as the 3rd-ranked DT with a 2nd-3rd round grade. He will need to put on some weight but his explosiveness and quick hands will make him an integral rotation piece on that deep defensive line. Tuipulotu recorded 104 tackles (15 for loss), 8.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in his USC career.
USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu (@marlont_51) has become one of my fav Pac-12 players in 2021 NFL Draft— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 10, 2021
Love the hustle & range from the 300lb iDL! Stout at POA, burst/surge off blocks, flashes upfield quickness in pass rush
Headed to @seniorbowl – great addition @JimNagy_SB pic.twitter.com/U3fs8uIvjX
The Eagles continued to find value on the defensive front with Patrick Johnson in the final round. Johnson has been one of the most productive players in college football, finishing his career at Tulane with 24.5 sacks, most in school history. Johnson graded out as the highest edge rusher in the AAC back in 2018. He has quick acceleration and solid closing speed to the tackle point.
Johnson lacks the length necessary to be an every-down rusher but you can’t teach the footwork and hustle that he provides. The two-time first-team All AAC selection recorded 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 39 tackles last season.