With Carson Wentz traded to the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles are entering a new chapter in their story. As the 2021 NFL draft arrived, the roster had holes all around, with some bigger than others.
Below are the two best decisions the Eagles made in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Eagles NFL Draft moves:
1. Trading up for DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The move to trade up was not surprising, what came as a shock was that Philadelphia did it with a division rival, the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, the Cowboys were told the selection would be used on a wide receiver, which is a position they are already stacked at.
Smith is the latest recipient of the Heisman Trophy, as he torched secondaries all season long. He and his slim frame have become the subject of countless memes.
Smith stands at 6’0, but only weighs 166 pounds. That is lean by regular people standards, more so by NFL standards. Despite this seeming disadvantage, it did not slow him down as he amassed 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns in his last season at Tuscaloosa.
Smith is as polished as they come. His route running is superb and he has an advanced route tree. While he may not be classified as a freak athlete, he has enough athleticism to be a consistent threat. He has soft hands and regularly generates separation.
Facing press coverage may be an issue at the professional level, but Smith’s movements are so smooth, that corners have a difficult time getting their hands on him.
He has a mature game and understanding of coverages, which he regularly uses to find holes in the defense. Smith is also a willing blocker in the run game, although, for the sake of his health, Philadelphia would be wise not to make him do this too often.
The Joe Burrow – Ja’Marr Chase reunion in Cincinnati usually gets all the attention, but Smith will also be reunited with his college teammate, quarterback Jalen Hurts. The existing chemistry they have should help them early on in their young, promising careers.
2. Drafting Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
There are versatile players and then there is Gainwell. He is a dual-threat running back, who can be used on the outside, in the slot, and of course the backfield. Gainwell can rack up yards through the air and on the ground. Even when he is doing neither, he is still solid in pass protection, which is an underrated skill that helps make the offense less predictable.
Gainwell is quite far below in the running back depth chart, but because he can line up anywhere there is a good chance he can contribute in his rookie campaign. He can be played at the same time as incumbent running back Miles Sanders.
He regularly gets compared to Nyheim Hines, due to their similar size and playstyle. Hines was everywhere for the Colts, even in kick and punt returns. If Gainwell turns out to be anything close to Hines, then his selection was a steal. Gainwell regularly received round three grades and for Philadelphia to get him in the fifth round could be huge.