Realistic expectations for DeVonta Smith, Milton Williams and the rest of the 2021 draft class

The class has been in session for almost five months for the Eagles Rookie Class since its writing in April, and now the team’s first review is just around the corner.

The Eagles, who have retained eight of nine rookie picks on the 53-man roster, start the regular season Sunday in Atlanta.

“With the draft class, [I’m] really confident in the capabilities of the guys, ”said head coach Nick Sirianni. “I felt like everyone we drafted turned me on a lot, [general manager] Howie [Roseman] was super excited. We were really excited about these guys. Why? Because they had talent.

“But the other things these guys had, in my opinion all these guys were top people who loved football and were tough. And when you have talent – talent is the most important thing – but if you have a high character and if you like the ball and you’re tough, you’re going to hit your ceiling, and you’re going to hit your ceiling higher. quickly.

“As long as we, as coaches, are doing our job to develop them. I don’t think it’s a secret that the type of players first and then the type of people we brought here made this list. Really excited about this and excited to see how they continue to develop as the season progresses. “

Here’s a look at how the entire 2021 Draft Class is progressing.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner missed a few weeks of training with an MCL sprain. Then he had a few drops on his preseason debut against New England. But, there’s no question, Smith comes from a different breed of receivers and he’s just what the Eagles’ offense needs.

After being tabled with the team’s best selection, Smith was immediately placed in the No. 1 wide receiver role. His run is as advertised and Smith constantly torched the opposing defensive backs in joint practice against the Jets. Smith’s use is expected to be high in Sirianni’s passing offense.

“I give DeVonta and its fundamentals so much credit,” Sirianni said. “He worked on his game and worked on his craft. We have these guys here who are world class athletes and if you can combine athletics with the fundamentals the sky is the limit for a lot of these guys and that’s where I see DeVonta; his fundamentals are really refined for a young player.

Class: B +

Dickerson spent all of training camp on the non-football injury list, recovering from a knee injury he sustained in Alabama. He took part in his first workout last week, but was only seen in individual exercises.

Three-time pro Bowler Jason Kelce managed 100% of the snaps with the first team’s offense in the middle, while Nate Herbig was the substitute. When Dickerson returns, he could face Herbig for the second-team position.

Class: N / A

Of all the defensive rookies, Williams offers the most intrigue. It shows explosiveness and power in the trenches and plays even bigger than its 6-foot-3, 290-pound frame. Williams had an impact on one of the team’s deepest position groups and he could have carved out an early role in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s packages.

“He’s just a physical player and he’s got a bunch of raw talent and that’s what you want to see, especially in a young D lineman, a guy who can play two positions,” said the player. six-time Pro Bowl defensive line Fletcher Cox. Williams.

Class: B +

The 5-foot-11 defensive back was immersed in the immediate action of the game with starter Darius Slay missing two of three exhibition games. McPhearson went through tough times, especially when he was picked by former Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.

McPhearson is expected to benefit from the learning behind veterans Slay and Steven Nelson during his rookie season. But if one of them breaks down, he will have the heavy responsibility of monitoring the best spreaders on the opposing team. McPhearson has the talent to follow, but the transition from college to the NFL has historically been difficult for rookie defensive backs of the past.

Class: VS

Behind Smith, Gainwell was the most exciting rookie to watch. He averaged over 6 yards per carry at the University of Memphis, where he built his reputation as a wide receiver. Some of this success has continued, albeit in a small sample size; Gainwell averaged 5.6 yards on 12 carries this preseason.

Gainwell exudes tenacity, which leads to many yards after capture. His pass-catching skills, coupled with his ability to miss defenders, can only make Sirianni drool over the possibilities.

“One thing you really notice about him is that he’s sneaky and can make guys miss,” Sirianni said. “He’s got good hands, can cover roads, hit the hole and do some big runs. He is hard. He just shows his physical and mental strength everyday. Usually guys who are tough players are guys who [make me think], ‘I can’t go to the game without him.’ “

Class: B +

Tuipulotu and Jackson are grouped here mainly because they had similar experiences at the camp. In addition, their draft picks were separated by only one pick. The two defensive linemen slowly began to camp. They struggled to get rid of their blockers and block the lanes. But Tuipulotu and Jackson had strong outings in the last preseason game, when they recorded nine combined tackles.

“They have the tools in their bodies,” Roseman said of Tuipulotu and Jackson. “We got good grades on these two guys coming out. We love character and work ethic, so we want to work with these guys and develop them.

“I think we are investing in our player development program. We invest in our coaches and trust these guys to improve them and be ready to play this season.

Class: VS-

Stevens was converted from safety to linebacker when he arrived in Philadelphia. He suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first two preseason games and kept him from building a match strip. Stevens played in the preseason final, recording six tackles.

Stevens was the only draft pick that was canceled on Cup day. Subsequently, he was added to the training team.

Class: VS-

Johnson was the most productive rookie in the game, finishing with 13 tackles, including two for loss. Earlier in camp, Gannon pointed to Johnson’s ability to provide multiple looks in his supervisory role as an outside linebacker and pass thrower. The Eagles have a lot of depth on the top seven, but Johnson could break the rotation at some point this season.

Class: B-

Stoll arrived in a tight hall with already nine-year veteran Zach Ertz and riding stud Dallas Goedert. Pair that with the emergence of 6-foot-7-inch Tyree Jackson, and the odds of Stoll making the roster at the start of camp were likely slim to none. But Stoll did enough to convince his bosses and he made the 53-player list squarely.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn,” said Stoll. “And being the undrafted guy you come to the reality that you’re not going to come in and be the starter on Day 1. To be able to learn from guys like that and have the opportunity to be in a city like this is really. what attracted me.

Class: B


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