This year is a rebuilding one for the Philadelphia Eagles, a season which is determined from the success (or failure) of Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia traded Carson Wentz and handed the keys to Hurts to run the offense for the 2021 season, the first under head coach Nick Sirianni -- who is seeking to revitalize a franchise that has gotten stale since the Super Bowl victory three years ago.
How the 2021 draft played out for the Eagles still remains to be seen. General manager Howie Roseman prioritized all offseason acquiring future assets for a 2022 draft that will have an abundance of talent. Philadelphia is at the forefront of having a huge stable of picks for 2022, having two guaranteed first-round picks and two second-round picks -- and one second could become a first if Wentz reaches a few barometers with the Indianapolis Colts (the Eagles could have three first-round picks).
Roseman and the Eagles front office had their moments during the 2021 NFL Draft, but Sirianni, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, and the coaching staff are very pleased with the talent they acquired. So where did the Eagles drop the ball in this draft and what pick will turn out the best? Let's review what the Eagles did:
2021 Eagles draft picks
- Round 1 (No. 10): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- Round 2 (No. 37): Landon Dickerson, C/G, Alabama
- Round 3 (No. 73): Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech
- Round 4 (No. 123): Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
- Round 5 (No. 150): Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
- Round 6 (No. 189): Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
- Round 6 (No. 191): Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina
- Round 6 (No. 224): JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU
- Round 7 (No. 234): Patrick Johnson, DE/LB, Tulane
Where's the cornerback help?
The Eagles did select McPhearson in the fourth round, but Philadelphia missed on improving that position a few times in this draft. There was nothing wrong with selecting Dickerson in the second round -- as his ceiling is a dominant interior offensive lineman for the next decade. Philadelphia did miss on an opportunity to select Asante Samuel Jr., starting a trend where 10 offensive linemen were selected in the second round. The Eagles may have reached if they selected any other cornerback outside of Samuel, so there was no sense of trading down from a premier selection (No. 6 pick in the second round).
Roseman got too cute in the third round with the No. 70 overall pick, thinking the Eagles could select Aaron Robinson if they traded three picks back (and acquire an extra sixth-round pick for collateral to acquire future assets). Philadelphia traded back to No. 73 and the New York Giants leapfrogged the Eagles by trading up from No. 76 to No. 71 and getting Robinson, who was the slot cornerback Philadelphia could have desperately used in Gannon's defense.
The Eagles were more than pleased with adding McPhearson in the fourth round, a player they actually tried to acquire in the third round. McPhearson being the only cornerback selection was a puzzling move by the Eagles, who have Darius Slay and Craig James as the projected starters on the outside, with Avonte Maddox in the slot. Expect the Eagles to sign a veteran in free agency once teams won't lose compensatory picks for signing them. That's where Philadelphia needs to pounce on Casey Hayward or Steven Nelson and have a competent starting lineup in a rebuilding year.
Smith a home run selection
The Eagles want to give Hurts every chance to succeed as the starting quarterback -- and giving him a No. 1 wide receiver was a huge step in accomplishing that. There was no doubt the Eagles were coveting Smith leading up to the draft, but they had to trade back into the top 10 in order to select him. Once the top two cornerbacks went off the board, the Eagles made sure they got arguably the top playmaker in this draft -- only parting ways with a third-round pick (No. 84) to move up two spots and get Smith.
All of a sudden the wide receiver position isn't looking too bad in Philadelphia. Smith is the No. 1 wideout the Eagles haven't possessed in more than a decade, someone who will free up Jalen Reagor -- who still is an enigma after an injury-riddled rookie season. Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, Greg Ward and Quez Watkins will compete for targets behind the two starters.
Adding Smith is the reliable wideout Hurts needs in the passing game, as Philadelphia can line up all over the field. Sirianni -- who has a strong background in coaching Pro Bowl wideouts -- will get the most out of Smith and his talent. The Eagles have a playmaking wide receiver that has the potential to be one of the best in the league, a wideout that is going to make the entire offense better.
The Eagles may be rebuilding in 2021, but Smith is a building block toward the future of this team. Smith's rookie season will be must-see television in what looks to be a tough season.