Philadelphia’s 2021 NFL Draft selections and UDFAs are being graded. The Eagles finished the preseason with a tie and, more importantly, a good look at the rookies vying for a roster position. Here’s how the Eagles’ rookies performed in their last preseason game.
N/A for DeVonta Smith.
DeVonta Smith did not dress for the last preseason game, which came as no surprise. While there was talk that certain starters could get some playing time, the Eagles’ first-round selection will have to wait a few weeks to see the field. It’s difficult not to get enthusiastic about it!
N/A Still on active/PUP status for Landon Dickerson.
C. Milton Williams
The rookie defensive lineman had a quiet night. For most of the first half, the backup line struggled against the Jets’ inside running game. Williams only appeared in two seasons, so he didn’t have much of a chance to show off his skills.
B, Zech McPhearson
McPhearson had such a strong performance that he didn’t even have his name announced while he was on the field. When McPhearson was on the field against the Jets, his back-end coverage was excellent, including a covering sack in which the rookie cornerback played a key role.
McPhearson got a key interception late in the game to prevent a two-point conversion attempt, keeping the Eagles in the game. This was precisely the kind of consistent play the youngster had hoped for to round off his preseason.
Marlon Tuipulotu needed a good showing against the Jets to be considered for a roster berth, and he earned enough of it tonight. With the exception of a late tackle for loss, it’s difficult to be pleased with his performance. Due to his energy, he made a few tackles down the field, but he didn’t get much of a push as a pass rusher and was moved too easily by the Jets’ running game. Tuipulotu had an uphill battle to begin with, given the Eagles’ defensive line depth, and his performance tonight was simply another mediocre effort when he needed to shine.
C+ JaCoby Stevens
The most important thing is that JaCoby Stevens is healthy and back on the field. It was nice to see him back on the field, even though he didn’t make any big plays, since the club has great expectations for him as he transitions from safety to linebacker.
B+ for Kenneth Gainwell.
Kenneth Gainwell saw a lot of action in the first half and delivered. With the ball in his hands, the mid-round running back looked sprightly, bursting through the line of scrimmage and making huge gains with excellent vision. He scored on the ground thanks to excellent blocking and a superior read near the goal line. Gainwell made several great catches as a receiver, demonstrating his three-down ability. Gainwell blew a block and surrendered a sack, lowering his overall rating for the evening. Gainwell’s potential as a versatile playmaker in this system, on the other hand, is hard not to be excited about.
B+ for Patrick Johnson.
Patrick Johnson continues to impress as a rookie linebacker with his consistency and good play. He seems unfazed by the game and is constantly near the ball. Johnson was injured for the second time this preseason and exited the game halfway through the third quarter, but he returned later in the game.
C+ for Tarron Jackson.
For this game, the Eagles defensive line, especially Tarron Jackson, was disappointing. The seventh-round selection made a key tackle for a loss in the red zone, but the rest of the game was quiet for him. This isn’t to say Jackson hasn’t had a terrific preseason; he has, but this game fell short of his expectations.
C JaQuan Bailey
As a defensive lineman, it’s difficult not to admire JaQuan Bailey’s vigor. The drive is there, but the plays weren’t tonight. Bailey, like the rest of the defensive line, remained quiet for most of the game, particularly early on against better players. Bailey also had a false start, which is problematic for undrafted guys in situations like these when every snap matters.
C+ for Jack Stoll.
With Tyree Jackson out, Jack Stoll may have a roster place wrapped up. Stoll seems to be able to hold his own in this situation. He not only looked excellent blocking, but he also made several difficult receptions during the preseason. He took a hospital ball from Flacco tonight but otherwise seemed to be in good shape. With Stoll as their third or fourth tight end, the Eagles might be in excellent condition.