The Eagles once again completed a draft in which they made more picks than any single team starts with. In 2021, they made nine selections even after moving up in the first round and trading into the 2022 draft.
Opinions on their draft actually seem very positive from a national outlook, though many fans in Philadelphia are not happy.
With that in mind, a few of our writers decided to put together their grades.
Together, our staff thought that this draft was an above average one that landed some versatility and potential cornerstones for the future of the franchise. Some of our writers have chosen to add their analysis of the articles in more detail below.
Paul Bowman, Managing Editor
Though I questioned a few trades (or lack thereof), this draft brought the team what should be six immediate contributors even if thee lottery tickets don’t pan out. This draft really seemed like it was one that looked to build a team’s foundation rather than simply focus on needs. It is the best draft strategy to have, though the Eagles lack of spending room in free agency may hinder how that works out in 2021 as they don’t have much to address areas they may not have gotten to.
Of course, the true grades will come years later, but the decision making used in this draft and the utilization
Click here to read Paul’s in-depth analysis.
Connor Donald, Contributor
Overall Grade: B+
DeVonta Smith, Pick 10:
The only thing saving this from being an A+ is the fact we had to trade up and lost one of our thirds, to Dallas of all teams, to make it happen. Enough about his weight, the man produced 52% of his college yardage after the catch. Get the ball to him quickly, early and often and watch Smith light the NFL up and turn this Eagles receiving corps around!
Landon Dickerson, Pick 37:
I want to give this an A so bad; however, the injury history can’t be denied. Dickerson is versatile, playing 50+ snaps at all 5 offensive line positions in college. Most importantly the majority at center, Kelce did Howie a favor and is giving him one more year. Kelce isn’t getting younger and the dead money is growing. Dickerson is a high football IQ, mauler and could play this year if any issues arise at the guard positions plus a year to learn from Kelce, priceless.
Milton Williams, Pick 73:
I was uncertain about this pick and was made less confident when Howie went for a fist bump with head of player personnel and was giving a disgusted look and denied… uh-oh. Williams has elite burst and overall great speed and agility, but is average size for a DT. He wins with active hands and short area burst, despite his length and size limitations. The depth behind Cox and Hargrave is not good and in an iffy DT class, Howie took a shot that has some interesting potential.
Zech McPhearson, Pick 123:
In typical Howie fashion he misses on the sure things at the cornerback position and finds himself staring down another developmental corner. Naturally Howie settles on a scheme versatile CB with potential limitations. He plays with nice physicality at the LOS and has good ball skills, but his ability to anticipate route breaks is of concern and could leave him trailing at times. At least it looks like we have an outside CB, not someone we will be left saying maybe he’d be better at safety.
Kenneth Gainwell, Pick 150:
The Eagles didn’t have a major need at running back, but an upgrade at RB2 is certainly a huge help for Sanders and Hurts, especially since he is arguably the best receiving back in the class. Gainwell didn’t play in 2020 but had a 2000 all-purpose yards season in 2019 with over 1400 rushing yards, over 600 receiving yards and over 15 TDs. Talk about a versatile weapon for Hurts and Sirianni!
Marlon Tuipulotu, Pick 189:
Another undersized DT who can efficiently use his hands and has solid reactive athleticism. He sounds like a depth and character pick by Howie as there is nothing that really stands out minus his fit into the likely 4-3 scheme.
Tarron Jackson, Pick 191:
In my final mock draft, where I take three different mocks and build the best draft possible, I had Tarron Jackson to the Eagles in two of them, he screamed I’m a Howie guy. He’s a developmental piece with solid production in college. He’s an aggressive Edge with good motor and effort and adds a piece behind Graham and Barnett, one of which is aging and the other which may not be on the roster. He checks all the basic boxes and though he maybe rotational to start, he could become a starter with refining of his game.
JaCoby Stevens, Pick 224:
I’m a Stevens fan. He will require development, but he can join Wallace behind McLeod and Harris to develop. He was played all over the LSU defense, but isn’t big enough for LB and might be too big for safety. He has nice coverage skills and is physical. Versatility is the name of Howies late round draft game.
Patrick Johnson, Pick 234:
Johnson is… versatile, surprise! Likely an attempted solution for the LB position, he played LB, DE and DL in college and had some great production across the board. His length is a concern but he can cover, run defend and pass rush. He certainly has the football IQ, athleticism and play strength to develop at the NFL level.
Paul Bowman’s In-Depth Analysis
Overall Grade: A-
I am a huge proponent of the trade-down strategy and, as such, was not thrilled to see the team trade up. Still, they didn’t give up too much and Howie proved his theory that the Giants would take Smith when the team immediately traded back and took a different receiver with their new first-round pick. Smith should be a stud for the Eagles and was universally a top-10 talent in the draft, so this is great value, even if we don’t consider the trade back that earned the team a 2022 first a month ago. They did have to have up a third, but also gained a fourth in the aforementioned trade back and the difference between Smith and Toney figures to be worth more than that pick.
I may have a bit of a different view as I tend to like OL more than many fans, but Dickerson is about as good a center prospect as there has been in the draft in quite some time. I was very high on Cesar Ruiz in 2020, but Dickerson has higher potential that even he does. Dickerson is a top-15 talent with an injury history as long as a CVS receipt and that is what many are complaining about, but finding a replacement for Kelce is the biggest long-term need the team has outside of a potential quarterback The last thing the team would need is the need to not only spend major resources on a QB next year, but also have to spend major resources to make sure they land a new top center.
To me, I think a lot of this noise comes from the Sidney Jones pick and how it didn’t work out. First, Jones was still a good value who just never panned out. Second, Jones had an Achilles injury, something more difficult to recover from than ACL tears. I think I am at least comforted that we have seen Dickerson return from these injuries and still improve his game. He will need to find a way to stay healthy, but I expect he will be an immediate option as a guard and long-term solution at center when he is available.
The reason I was not happy with the pick was that they did not trade back. Samuel Jr., JOK and Barmore were still on the board as first-round talents. The team could have moved back 4-8 spots to get one or two fourth-round picks or a 2022 third-rounder. That would have put the team in better position to add future picks and select players the team liked better and Dickerson almost certainly would still have been on the board. In my opinion, such a move could have landed the team Dickerson and Jabril Cox (with that extra fourth). There’s no way to definitively prove that, but that’s the other reason the selection gets knocked by me, even though it isn’t specific to the player.
Williams seems like a player with upside and like a guy who, had he been coming out of a school like Clemson instead of Louisiana Tech, would be a late first-round selection. He has the talent to play immediately but his true impact will be felt in a few seasons when he has grown and become a dominant player all around, potentially replacing Cox or Hargrave due to cap concerns. This is an excellent roster building move that adds a player who will play immediately while offering the potential to be a franchise cornerstone.
You also have to love that he offers inside/outside versatility, so his presence will better allow the team to cope with any injuries along the defensive line.
Zech was a great corner in the Big 12, but my concern with him is that he had to transfer out of Penn State (and the B1G) to move up the depth chart and his play has come against a conference that had the fewest draft picks of any power-five conference in 2021. In particular, the Big 12 had just one receiver drafted (Tylan Wallace in the fourth – pick 131), so the question becomes was McPhearson’s coverage strong enough to hold up against the rise in competition he’ll face? Or could it be he simply was not a scheme fit with Penn State? I certainly hope he can go out and squash my concerns.
McPhearson was strong in a more zone-heavy coverage, so the team will have to account for that, but Gannon really wanted the guy (they considered moving back up into the third, which would have really hurt this grade) so that skill should fit his scheme.
Gainwell going this late makes him a steal and the way that Siriani has been able to use his backs in Indianapolis should watch up perfectly with what Gainwell can offer. He is a Sproles-like back that actually posses a high skill level that can help with that comparison (he is not just a small running back). He should play immediately and may begin the season as RB2 depending on how Howard and Scott do in camp.
Tuipulotu does not offer much as a pass-rusher and may never do so, but he has a knack for run stopping. Even if he never develops as a pass-rusher, I see him filling the role that Beau Allen played on this team for four years. Now, that may not be flashy, but it is valuable and certainly worth a sixth-round pick as he should be able to enter the rotation immediately and be a solid fourth or fifth guy at the position.
Jackson is a lottery ticket to me. If he works out, he will be a superstar and I’ll be questioned as to why this was not an A+ pick. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably be out of the league by 2023. His body of work is incredible, the issue is that it was at Costal Carolina and the competition level simply was not the same as what he’ll face n the NFL. His small size (compared to that of NFL DL) assists in the concerns that his production may not translate.
I was not a major fan of the 2020 Eagles draft just because essentially every player was a lottery ticket. That’s a fine risk to take in the sixth-round, however, when you’ve already made six other solid selections.
Stevens is a decent pick. He should be able to make the team as a special teamer and locker room guy at the least. The team appears ready to take the Nate Gerry route with him and transition him to linebacker, which has a more negative connotation than it should after Gerry’s most recent terrible season where he played injured, but Gerry was a decent player before that.
The pick also reminds me a bit of he Jalen Mills pick (seventh-round, 2016) which also has a more negative connotation than it should for some. Mills provided some positional flexibility so even if he wasn’t the strongest outside corner and better suited as a safety/linebacker, he could fill in and bring some fire to the defense. If Stevens can provide some similar versatility and the team can find his niche (ideally sooner than they did with Mills), this will be a great pick. If it doesn’t work out, a late sixth isn’t a major deal.
Trade With WFT:
At this point in the draft, were there really any players that the team needed picks for? Probably not, especially after making eight picks. There’s only so much room on the roster for the rookies to crack a spot and there’s not point in drafting someone you like just to lose them because there’s not a spot open on the team. Sending a late compensatory sixth and the later seventh to Washington for a 2022 fifth continues to build the future war chest, adds a pick where the Eagles should be able to grab a better player and avoids a potential situation like Casey Toohill last season where the team runs out of roster spots and fans start burning the city because their draft pick (who has never seen the field) is now with another team.
Johnson might be a good player in the league and he is a big sleeper according to Pro Football Focus, but my grading of this pick has very little to do with the player himself. Everything would seem to indicate that Johnson’s success in the NFL will come from playing OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Maybe I’m missing something here, but the Eagles run a 4-3 defense and have not said they were changing that.
Maybe Johnson carves out a role, but at this point, the pick is a decent player that does not seem to fit. It makes me think back to Chip Kelly times where no one is played in a manner that maximizes their strengths and I don’t like it. Prove me wrong, Gannon.