How The Future of The Eagles Shined Against Atlanta
It might not have been the biggest stage, or even close to the biggest game of the season, but the Eagles got something against the Falcons that they barely saw last year.
Production from their young draftees.
From the Eagles 2021 Draft Class(including UDFAs), the Eagles had 8 players play snaps: Kenneth Gainwell, DeVonta Smith, Jack Stoll, Milton Williams, Patrick Johnson, Zech McPhearson, Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson.
The two players from the class that didn't play were Landon Dickerson, who is now practicing fully after tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship game. Along with JaCoby Stevens, who is currently on the practice squad.
Going into the 2020 season, Howie Roseman insisted that the Eagles were going to start a youth movement. He then proceeded to keep DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey as his top two wideouts, and then play Jeffrey over younger receivers late in the season. That season ended in disaster, a 4-11-1 record and trading of the teams "franchise QB".
The new Eagles coaching staff has come in with a new perspective. Instead of going into situations where they have to throw in inexperienced players for injured players, they get those young players experience before the injuries occur. Jonathan Gannon has no incentive to play Jackson, a 6th Round Pick out of Coastal Carolina, but he played 2 snaps. Same with Tuipulotu, a 6th rounder out of USC, but he played 6 snaps.
Not only did these rookies play, a lot of them succeeded.
DeVonta Smith had 6 catches for 71 yards and 1 touchdown. The touchdown came on the first catch of his NFL career. For a guy who is legitimately the future of the Philadelphia Eagles, they'll take it.
Kenneth Gainwell had 43 total yards to go along with a touchdown. Gainwell impressed the coaching staff so much that he is already the RB2 in their eyes, as Boston Scott did not play a single snap. Miles Sanders had a great game, but that didnt stop Gainwell from being productive and helping his team towards the win.
Milton Williams didnt have anything eye popping that will show up in the stat sheet, but he was another defensive lineman that added onto that pressure that was on in the second half. Johnson, Jackson and Tuipulotu did the same in limited action.
How about Jack Stoll? This kid was an undrafted free agent who came into camp as an absolute longshot to join a crowded tight end room, but he played 12 snaps on Sunday. The Eagles kept Stoll on the active roster for a reason, and he could play a bigger role against San Fransisco with Zach Ertz dealing with an injury.
Zech McPhearson played mostly special teams snaps, but guess what? He downed two nice punts from Arryn Siposs.
The point is that the Eagles have been dying to find future pieces on this football team, and the early signs are positive. I haven't even mentioned guys like Jalen Hurts, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Jordan Mailata, Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Alex Singleton! A few of these guys will be free agents after this season, but I'm still confident Goedert gets a deal done and one of Sweat/Barnett will get a mega deal here. But think, Goedert and maybe Sweat/Barnett would be the only guys you were confident about before the 2020 season.
This Eagles team is currently a perfect mix of veterans and young players. It's early, and I mean really early. A lot of these guys could take drop offs as soon as this Sunday, but I have a good feeling that they won't.
You can't help but just sit back and enjoy watching these guys do what they do best. This is just the beginning. Watch this space.