The Eagles have struggled to find impact rookies over the years. In years past, if they drafted just one player who had an impact in year one it was a win. This season, Philly has seen a handful of their rookies step up and play well.
It’s premature to make any grand conclusions on this draft class yet, but it’s shaping up to be one of Howie Roseman’s best draft efforts.
Let’s take a look at each rookie and grade them accordingly.
1st Round Pick: WR DeVonta Smith
Where would this Eagles passing attack be without DeVonta Smith? He’s the only legitimate outside threat on the roster and he’s putting up profound numbers without a top tier quarterback throwing him the rock.
On the year, Smith has hauled in 38 receptions for 537 yards (14.1 YPC) and two touchdowns. His PFF grade of 75.4 ranks him 27th out of 127 qualifying receivers. Smith’s Week 9 outing was his best game to date, according to PFF. He finished the weekend as the highest graded receiver in the league, posting a stellar 92.6 overall offensive grade.
Smith just does everything well and even when he’s not getting the ball, the effort is still there. The top flight receiver who’s not a diva is hard to come by in today’s NFL, but Smith is one of the most soft spoken players on the team. His small stature that everyone pointed to as a red flag heading into the draft hasn’t hindered his performance at all.
2nd Round Pick: C/G Landon Dickerson
After a few forgettable outings, Landon Dickerson has settled into his guard position and has played like a first-round pick in recent weeks. He hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 3 against Dallas and his PFF run-blocking grade sits at 67.8, 22nd out of 73 qualifying guards.
We knew Dickerson has the talent to be a first round caliber player when he entered the league, his injury history was the only true concern. So far, so good on that front. He’s a legitimate run blocking mauler and has steadily improved in his pass blocking sets. As long as he remains healthy, the future is bright for this Bama product.
3rd Round Pick: DT Milton Williams
Milton Williams was someone that a lot of Eagles fans were high on coming into the year. It’s taken several weeks, but the third-round pick is finally starting to have an impact on the field.
Williams is coming off his two most productive games to date in the NFL, posting a combined five pressures, one sack, four hurries, and four tackles. He’s solidified himself as the third defensive tackle in their interior rotation and he’s shown that he has the ability to be a starter down the line.
4th Round Pick: CB Zech McPhearson
Zech McPhearson got his first extended playing time this past week following the injury to Darius Slay and the rookie corner did some nice things. He allowed one reception on two targets for just three yards, and he finished with five tackles and two defensive stops.
With such a limited sample size, it’s hard to give McPhearson any kind of glowing reviews just yet. Hopefully we get to see a little more of him in the near future.
5th Round Pick: RB Kenneth Gainwell
Through the first 5-6 weeks of the season, Kenny Gainwell looked to be the steal of the draft for the Eagles. After Miles Sanders went down with an ankle injury, Gainwell was primed to takeover RB1 duties in his absence. But it hasn’t panned out that way, as he’s remained in his third down back role.
That’s not a bad thing, not every running back is built to be a three down back and the Eagles do have Boston Scott and Jordan Howard, two experienced backs who are clear north-south runners. Nevertheless, Gainwell has still done a great job as the receiving back in this offense. He’s totaled 19 receptions for for 164 yards and one touchdown as a receiver this season. His PFF receiving grade of 77.5 ranks him sixth out of 65 qualifying half backs.
I’m anxious to watch the maturation process of Gainwell over the remaining eight games.
6th Round Pick: DT Marlon Tuipulotu
Marlon Tuipulotu has only played 29 defensive snaps this year, so it’s impossible to gauge his performance thus far. He played three snaps this past Sunday and recorded a PFF grade of 72.4 for his efforts, his highest game grade of the season.
6th Round Pick: S/LB JaCoby Stevens
JaCoby Stevens is still on the practice squad, so nothing to report here.
7th Round Pick: LB Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson‘s snap count has gone down drastically in recent weeks. He’s only played three total snaps since Week 6. Genard Avery has cemented his status as the team’s weakside linebacker, leaving Johnson on the sidelines. I still believe he has potential and a future with this team, but his time hasn’t come just yet.
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