Howie Roseman has received a lot of criticism for his drafting in recent years. Most of it is justified.
Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson, Andre Dillard and JJ Arcega-Whiteside are among the puzzling recent selections.
However, you have to give credit when credit is due, and the 2021 Eagles Draft Class is a perfect example of that. Even though they are rookies, the Eagles have been getting consistent production and snaps out of the majority of their draft picks.
1st was DeVonta Smith, who was expected to have a very good rookie season but the production speaks for itself. Smith has 61 catches, 875 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. His route running is just so smooth and crisp, you almost know that he is going to catch the ball whenever it comes his way. DeVonta is 37 yards away from the Eagles rookie receiving yards record, which was set by DeSean Jackson in 2008. Even after all that, Roseman also gained a first round pick by trading back with the Dolphins. He made the pick all Eagles fans wanted and it has paid off so far.
Landon Dickerson was a bit of a surprise to most in the second round, but it has worked incredibly so far. Dickerson was coming off a torn ACL and it was a bit of a question if he would be ready by the time the season started, regardless if there was an opening for playing time. Dickerson was activated way before Week 1, and was thrown into the lineup at LG in Week 4 after Isaac Seumalo suffered a season ending injury. Dickerson struggled early, which is to be expected, but he's really picked it up down the stretch and has been huge for this team. Seumalo is expected to be back next season, but I find it hard to believe the Eagles will stop the chemistry that Dickerson and Mailata have on that left side. Seems like a home run pick for Roseman.
When the Eagles drafted Milton Williams in the 3rd round, I'll be the first to admit that I didn't like it. I thought there were better players at bigger positions of need, mainly cornerback and safety. I understood the pick from the Eagles perspective however, since they have put a huge emphasis on building through the trenches. Williams hasn't played an absurd amount in his rookie season, but he's definitely shown flashes of good things. I especially saw that in last week's game against Washington, where he made a few plays in increased snaps. I'm not sure he'll have a huge role until Fletcher Cox or Javon Hargrave are gone, but it's been nice to see why Roseman had so much confidence drafting him at 73. With all that said, there's a chance we see a lot of Williams on Saturday with the potential of the Eagles resting starters against Dallas.
Zech McPhearson hasn't seen the field on defense much, but he has been a key special teamer all season long. The reality is that Darius Slay, Steven Nelson and Avonte Maddox are all playing at a high level so there is really no place for McPhearson to fill in. But, special teams are important, and seeing a rookie be successful there that early on in their career is nice.
Drafting Kenneth Gainwell was such a good pick for the Eagles for so many reasons. First off, Gainwell is such an explosive player in the run and the pass. Although some of the Eagles other running backs can be in the passing game, they aren't as fast or reliable as Gainwell. Along with his skill alone, this is kind of an investment pick by Roseman in my eyes. Miles Sanders hasnt been able to stay healthy and will be a Free Agent after next year, Jordan Howard will be a Free Agent in 2022 and so will Boston Scott. The Eagles obviously really like Scott and Howard, but there's always a chance someone else pays a lot of money for them. Gainwell is really the only guy we know will be locked in for the long, and I'm confident that he'll only get better. Back to the main point though, Gainwell's snaps have gone down since early in the season but we've seen more of him recently. With the Eagles RBs health in question on Saturday and beyond, Gainwell will need to continue to step up.
I'm going to lump together the picks of Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson, JaCoby Stevens and Patrick Johnson even though some have been more important then others. Tarron Jackson is probably the best of this group, as he has been playing more and more in recent weeks. With Brandon Graham getting injured and Ryan Kerrigan doing nothing, Jackson has come in and made some clutch plays in the last couple of games. Sometimes you don't see it, but he's getting good pressure considering he's a late round rookie out of Coastal Carolina. Patrick Johnson has played pretty much every game but it has really not been many snaps, although he did have a PBU earlier in the season. Tuipulotu has been a healthy scratch in nearly every game this season. Stevens has been on the practice squad all season, but was elevated for last week's game and will be again for this week's. It's hard to judge off this, but it was nice to see Stevens make a play on special teams in the first game of his career.
Not to mention undrafted TE Jack Stoll making the roster and playing a lot as a blocking tight end this season. Kayode Awosika has been on the practice squad all season and has been protected by the Eagles a couple of times.
It's really nice to see a lot of these guys contributing to the Eagles playoff run, since Philadelphia has been the end of a lot of draft jokes in recent years. It's still early for all of these guys, but based off this season alone, the future is bright for this Eagles team.