The Eagles’ rookies have made their way to Philly and are preparing for rookie minicamp over the next few days. Some of the 2021 NFL Draft class spoke to reporters after arriving at the facility on Wednesday. Here are some of the highlights from the incoming Eagles.
WR DeVonta Smith
Smith hasn’t gotten in any work with Jalen Hurts yet, but he’s confident in their connection. The WR did admit that they’ll have to get back on the same page, because they’ve both grown as players since the last time they played together at Alabama, so there’s not a ton of carryover from their collegiate years.
The rookie also hasn’t had a chance to work with Jalen Reagor just yet, but he does think the receivers can complement each other.
“He’s very explosive, very fast. I mean, overall he’s a great receiver. We can compliment each other, just help each other out with things in our game.”
Smith was asked about Landon Dickerson and him being called culture-setters, and what aspect he’d want them to bring from Alabama — the WR was quick to choose their discipline. He also talked a bit about why Dickerson is the type of guy you want on your team.
“Landon’s a dog. He’s somebody that’s gonna — he’s literally going to leave everything on the line whether he’s hurt or not. Guy had an ACL injury and he was still trying to be out there, that’s the type of guy he is. That’s the type of guy you want to play with, somebody that’s going to put the team first.
And then, overall, he’s a great leader. Whatever he said at Alabama, people listened to it — it was no if, ands, or buts about it. If he said it, we went with it, and we was rolling.”
C/G Landon Dickerson
As he still works on recovering from his latest knee injury, Dickerson admitted that he isn’t sure what his plan is for Rookie Minicamp, but he’s just taking things one step at a time. Once he gets to join the team on the field, he pointed to the speed of the game being the biggest adjustment he’ll have to make to the NFL.
Position-wise, Dickerson said that he’s always prided himself on understanding what everyone was doing on the line, and the most important thing to him is having the best five guys on the field — whether that means he’s at a different position, or even not on the field at all.
Referencing Smith’s earlier answer about Dickerson’s leadership ability, the rookie said that it’s something he’s developed, but more so it comes from the type of guy he wants to be. He wants to be someone that guys can come to, lean on, and trust. Someone they know isn’t going to BS them but will tell them what’s best for them and the team.
LB JaCoby Stevens
On his goals for camp, Stevens said he wanted to make a good impression, and also wanted to get acclimated with the organization, facilities, and staff.
“This is going to be the first time I can get in front of all the coaches — you know, they send scouts out for the pro days and stuff like that, but this will be the first time with the coaches to really see me move in person. So, I just want to give a good impression, show that I can move around.”
Stevens smiled when he was asked about Bennie Logan, and went on to talk about working with Logan last year at LSU. Stevens noted that Logan is still “very fond of Philly” and has given him some recommendations around the city.
RB Kenny Gainwell
The rookie hasn’t been able to connect with Darren Sproles yet but compares his game to the retired Eagle because they’re both short, quick, and compact. Gainwell also mentioned that he asked for No. 14, and he’s just going to work hard to try and earn No. 19 eventually — JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s number at the moment.
The RB later talked about being able to run just about any receiver route as a pass-catching back, and after some review of the Eagles’ playbook, he loves that it’s set up for playmakers.
DE Tarron Jackson
Jackson was an applied mathematics major in college, something he attributed to working with his dad on remodeling projects when he was younger. The DE noted that it definitely helps on the field, however, being able to understand probabilities of a play being run.
The rookie was asked why he chose to wear No. 75, and he mentioned that eventually he wants to work his way into a number with a nine in front of it, but until then, 7 + 5 = 12, which is the age his brother passed away. So, that was a way Jackson could honor him.
CB Zech McPhearson
The corner couldn’t go into too much detail but said that the things DC Jonathan Gannon is bringing to the table are exciting. McPhearson said for his part, he’s versatile and has various experiences from the course of his career, so he’s ready for whatever they ask of him. He did admit that he’s familiar with the scheme and is currently just learning terminology — McPhearson noted that football isn’t that complicated when you break it down to its simplest form and that a lot is about execution.
LB Patrick Johnson
He noted that the coaches want to use him all over the field and take advantage of his athletic ability. Johnson admitted that he’s still working to figure out what his role will be in Philly, but he’s working with LB coach Nick Rallis on the playbook and learning more every day. When pressed, he noted that he’s being looked at as a defensive end and middle linebacker, but they’re still trying to sort out where he’ll line up.
DT Milton Williams
“I think Coach [Tracy] Rocker is a great dude. I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun with the guys in the d-line room, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to hold everybody accountable in the room and make sure everybody is getting better every single day.”
Williams also talked about being moved to the inside in college and he said that it was an opportunity for him to learn a new position along the line and have more versatility in his game. He noted that being able to see different block combinations this past year helped him a lot. The rookie admitted he played at 285-pounds last year, but if the team asks him to lose weight or gain, he’ll do whatever they need.