Draft Brings Seismic Roster Vibrations to Two Eagles Position Groups

The addition of DeVonta Smith gives plenty of inventory for WR coach Aaron Moorehead and the DT group got a major upgrade with Milton Williams and Marlon Tuitupolu
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PHILADELPHIA - Every NFL draft brings the potential for seismic roster shakeups, and the Eagles now feel the aftershocks of the most recent quake from last weekend, especially at wide receiver and defensive line.

They added only one receiver, that being, of course, DeVonta Smith. His addition gives returning WR coach Aaron Moorehead nine pass-catchers with which to work.

Five of those nine were drafted within the last two years, including last year’s No. 1 pick, Jalen Reagor, and 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Two others arrived in the draft last spring as well, John Hightower in the fifth and Quez Watkins in the sixth.

The others are Travis Fulgham, a sixth-round pick of the Lions in 2019, and undrafted free agents Greg Ward, Khalil Tate, and, Trevon Grimes, who was reportedly signed after the draft ended on Sunday.

Who is going to be the odd men out when cutdown day arrives at summer’s end?

More on that later.

As for the defensive tackle spot, the Eagles added one in the third round with Milton Williams and another in the sixth round with Marlon Tuipulotu.

Williams can also move outside, but he counts as a defensive tackle at the moment.

His selection late Friday evening got overshadowed by the mutinous, caught-on-camera reaction from Tom Donahue because the Eagles traded down and didn’t take the player the senior director of player personnel wanted them to take, North Carolina State nose tackle Alim McNeil.

“Milton Williams is an explosive three-technique, he’s an unbelievable person,” said Roseman during his visit to the Eagles’ flagship station, 94WIP, on Tuesday morning. “If you give kind of a comp you think of Malik Jackson and what he can do and the versatility to play outside, to rush outside then reduce inside, then what happens in the sixth round, we end getting the nose tackle. 

"We get Marlon … who we had second-day grades on, so I think when you look at it the way it worked out was really good.”

Williams and Tuipulotu will join a DT cast that includes Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway, Raequan Williams, and T.Y. McGill.

The Eagles need to do something at this position, and they did. Cox can' play forever, after all, and his contract runs only through 2022 to counting two voidable years take on at the end.

How it all plays out, well, Cox and Hargrave aren’t going anywhere – not in 2021, anyway – and Ridgeway’s season has been cut short after seven games in his first two years with the Eagles. 

There’s a very good chance that both Williams and Tuitupolu see plenty of action as rookies, which probably leaves a depth chart of Cox, Hargrave, Williams, Tuitupolu, and maybe Ridgeway if the Eagles go with five DTs.

As for the nine WRs, well, how many will they keep?

Yes, it’s too early to make those calls, with so much that can happen between now and the September kickoff, but the locks are already obvious: Smith and Reagor. Yep, that’s it.

Ward would appear safe, given his close friendship with Jalen Hurts, who Hurts targeted 16 times in the QB's four starts at the end of the year with Ward catching three touchdowns from him, including one in Green Bay when Hurts took over for Carson Wentz.

Hightower and Watkins were drafted only last year, but that may not mean much to a new coaching regime. Besides, they showed some promise in limited time and it's reasonable to expect that Roseman won' let Nick Sirianni and his assistants give on on them so soon.

Then there are the others: Fulgham sizzled for a month then fizzled, Arcega-Whiteside may be out of chances, Tate has a steep uphill climb, and Grimes is a newcomer who must prove he is worthy of something more than a practice squad spot.

While summer isn’t quite here yet to do all the sorting out, these appear to be the positions hit hardest by the draft’s quake.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.