2021 Eagles' Draft Picks Progress Report: Preseason
Back in May when the NFL Draft had concluded, many people were skeptical of some of the picks that Howie Roseman had made. Now with the preseason finally over, we need to take a look at these players. There are some draft picks that were locks for the 53 man roster before training camp even began. There were some that would be fighting for a spot on the roster. Lets take a look at how each player did during this preseason.
Patrick Johnson DE/LB
The biggest longshot to make the Eagles 53 man roster at the start of camp among draft picks. It was not because he was a 7th round draft pick, but because the Eagles planned on moving him to a position he was unfamiliar with. However, by the end of the Jets game, I feel Johnson secured his spot on the 53 man roster. He accumulated 13 tackles in 3 preseason games this year. With 2 of the players ahead of him on the depth chart injured, Johnson is not just competing for a roster spot but valuable playing time week 1 against Atlanta.
Jacoby Stevens S
Stevens first time seeing the field came against New York in the preseason finale. He had 7 solo tackles and assisted on one more. Many of his coaches throughout camp had high praise for the former LSU Tiger. A hamstring injury right before the Pittsburgh game held him out for the first two preseason games. The Eagles have the thinest safety room in recent memory. Even though Stevens did not play much this preseason, the lack of depth at the safety position should help his case to make the 53 man roster.
Tarron Jackson DE
(Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)
Jackson had a great preseason for a 6th round pick, and he has earned the opportunity to play in the NFL. He has looked so impressive in every game he has played this preseason. With many of the regular starters playing, Jackson was able to secure his fair share of playing time. Jackson was dealt a bad hand. The Eagles' strongest asset is their defensive line. They have amazing talent all over the line, and with fellow rookie Milton Williams also playing well, Jackson's chances of making the 53 man roster are slim. If he does make the roster, then a bigger name player will be getting cut. If Jackson does get cut, he is a big name player the Eagles can add to their practice squad. He has earned the opportunity to play, but with a lot of talent ahead of him. it may cost him a spot on the active roster.
Marlon Tulpulotu DE
Tulpulotu entered this preseason with just as much pressure as Jackson to make the 53 man roster. When you compare Jackson and Tulpulotu, Jackson had the clear better preseason and earned the opportunity to play. Tulpulotu was unimpressive all preseason long. He had 5 tackles against the Jets, but entered the game with just 1 in his previous 2 games. Tarron Jackson is on the bubble to make the 53 man roster, and that should seal Tulpulotu's fate on making the roster.
Kenny Gainwell RB
For some reason there was low expectations for the former RB from Memphis. However, he came into the preseason and showed everyone him he is going to be a big part of this offense for the future. A dual RB who's pass catching is just as good as his running skills had a great camp. He is competing with Boston Scott and Jordan Howard for roster spots, however with Howard's continuous injuries, Gainwell can prove his worth. Miles Sanders has the RB1 job locked up, but we all know the value in having depth at the RB position. Not only should you expect Gainwell to make the team, but you should be ready for some serious reps for Gainwell.
Zech McPhearson CB
Eagles fans really did not enjoy the 2nd preseason game against New England. Cam Newton was straight up bullying McPhearson. During the second series of the game, Newton targeted McPhearson 3 of the first 4 plays and connected to his receiver on all 3 plays. If things could not get worse for him, he was called for a defensive holding penalty later in the game. Even though he was absolutely embarrassed that game, McPhearson was able to gain some valuable experience going against New England's starters. The Eagles CB room is thin, which could help his chances of making the roster. Expect him to make the roster, but fight each week to keep that spot.
Milton Williams DT
Fletcher Cox is not getting younger, and Williams is the clear heir to the throne once Cox decides to hang the cleats up. All preseason he has looked phenomenal. He was able to draw multiple holding penalties on the offense in every game. When the Eagles drafted Williams, the big upside for him was his size. He has been one of the biggest players on the field in every game. The Eagles love to build from the trenches, and Williams is going to step in week 1 and be a difference maker. He not only will make the 53 man roster, but he is a guy who will be making an impact on the Eagles defensive line for a long time. When the defensive leader Fletcher Cox says his respect for Williams is very high, then I think we found ourself a stud.
Landon Dickerson C
Dickerson did not see any game action this preseason, as he is still recovering from injuries he sustained during the SEC Championship game for Alabama. Dickerson is going to start the season on the PUP list to start the season. Dickerson was a steal in last year's draft. His stock fell after his injury at Alabama. However, with an aging offensive line, this pick was clearly made for the future. Dickerson should make the roster, but do not expect him to see the field in 2021. From the beginning many people have said he should take his rookie season to get fully healthy. With this season expected to be a rebuilding season, rushing Dickerson back before he is ready could lead to further injuries in the future.
DeVonta Smith WR
There is zero question that Smith is going to make the roster. We only saw Smith play in 1 game this preseason and was very limited. He had 2 receptions for 19 yards on 4 targets. When watching him play against New England, his route running and separation was phenomenal. I did not expect to see him play much this preseason, and his real test is going to be once the regular season begins. However, from his time at camp and his one half he played, Smith has a lot of potential that makes Eagles fans vey happy for the future.
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