“This Guy’s Just A Football Player:” Inside The Draft With Greg Cosell
The 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books, so it’s time to evaluate who the Eagles came away with after the three-day event.
On the final edition of “Inside the Draft With Greg Cosell,” an Inside The Birds presentation, Greg Cosell discussed with Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan all of Howie Roseman’s selections from last weekend.
Cosell: “Look, Devonta Smith is a really talented guy. The only thing we discussed about Smith was how you feel about 166 pounds, if you feel OK with it – and the Eagles clearly did. There was a lot of talk that the Giants were interested in Smith at 11, which is why the Eagles made the trade, they wanted Devonta Smith. Like I said, there’s really nothing not to like about DeVonta Smith in terms of his receiving traits, it’s just the weight, and they were very comfortable with it, and I’m sure they have a plan for how they feel he’s best utilized. We’ve discussed that over the last number of weeks. You get him in motion, you get him in movement, you get stack releases, where he’s the second guy in the stack off the ball. There’s many ways to get him free access into routes, so they feel very comfortable with that, and there’s no question whatsoever that this guy’s got really talented traits.”
Cosell: “Oh, I love his tape. Here’s another example where I think they stuck to their board. People will say, ‘Well, they should have drafted a corner there,’ but maybe they had Dickerson rated as their 27th best player and then they get to 37, and they probably just said, ‘You know what, we’ve got to take him. We spent two years, three years with our scouts doing all this work and this is the way the draft board played out.’
“He’s super competitive, super tough. He’s a tempo-setter for an entire offensive line, Jeff Stoutland will love this guy. You’re dealing with a guy that is powerful, he’s strong. Don’t forget he’s 6 foot 6, 326 pounds now. I mean this is a big dude, he plays with an edge, he plays with a nasty streak, he’s mentally and physically tough. He plays with a take-no-prisoners attitude. He physically dominated at times, he’s not a high-level athlete but you don’t need to be a high-level athlete at guard or center, and by the way you can play him at guard as well. He’s really aware.
“So in pass protection, even though he doesn’t have light feet, he’s very, very aware of fronts, very aware of stunts, of pressures. If he’s uncovered, he will go help and he will lay out a pass rusher. He’s everything you want in an offensive lineman, big, physical, competitive, great run blocker, and like I said in pass protection, while he’s not a dancing bear you don’t have to be. He gets after it pretty good. To be cliched and people will get it, this guy’s just a football player.”
Cosell: “He was rarely off his feet, was rarely on the ground. He played with great balance, great body control. He had effortless change of direction, he played like an athlete, he’s a naturally quick guy. Got really light feet; quick, active hands. He was a really good run defender, he controlled and displaced alignment and maintained his balance, as I said. I think that I would say that he’s not twitchy as a pass rusher, but I think there’s a lot to develop there. I think that there’s much to be unlocked as a pass rusher.”
Cosell: The thing that stood out to me most was his versatility. He played outside corner, he played slot corner, he played snaps at safety. I think he had flashes at outside corner where you said, ‘That’s pretty good.’ He’s not a high-level athlete. I think that he was probably best playing off coverage. Look, if they’re gonna play a lot of Cover Four, which is what the Minnesota model is, he played a ton of off-coverage, man and zone at Texas Tech, that’s his thing. So I’m sure that’s what the Eagles saw, they probably saw a guy that is pretty good at it, you can teach him more, doesn’t matter that he’s not a super high-level athlete, but we’ll see.”
Cosell: “He can be offset in the backfield, and he can be detached as a receiver. At Memphis in 2019, when by the way his numbers were off the charts, and if he had put up the same numbers and played in 2020 he would not have been a fifth-round pick, he probably would have been a second-round pick because of his receiving traits. I mean he ran routes like a true wide receiver being able to attack a defense at all three levels. Think about Nick Sirianni, where he’s been. He was with the Chargers; they had Austin Ekeler. He was with the Colts; they had Nyheim Hines. I personally think Gainwell is better than both those guys, but he has experience with backs that can line up anywhere in the formation. So, this is not a new deal for him and I wouldn’t be surprises – and I think you will see it – I think you’ll see Gainwell and Miles Sanders snaps together, that the Colts did that with Hines and Taylor, or Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Again, Sirianni has experienced with that, what they call the pony package.”
Cosell: “I really liked his tape a lot. I think he’s a really strong interior D-Line prospect. He can play 1-technique, he can play 3-technique, he can two-gap. He’s got quick, active hands, he’s naturally athletic. He’s got really good first-step quickness off the ball. I really liked this player, he was fun to watch. He’s got the needed traits to play as a one-gap player or a two-gap player. In this defense, he’ll be a one-gap player. I’m not gonna sit here and say he’s exactly Linval Joseph, but you could see him in that role, which is a one-gap D-tackle.”
Cosell: “I think if you’re seeing him as a true D-end, if you see him as an edge player, lining up outside tackles, then I think he’s got some work to do. He doesn’t have the burst off the snap you’d ideally like to see, he’s not naturally explosive or sudden. He’s more laterally quick and confined space as a run defender, and then he’s explosive off the ball as a pass rusher. For Coastal Carolina a lot of times he lined up a little more inside whether it was a 3-technique or a 4i. I thought he was really kind of a better run defender than he was a pass rusher. He had a lot of second-reaction pass-rush sacks, which is a good thing, because he kept coming when his initial move was stopped. But I don’t think this guy right now is an edge pass rusher.”
Cosell: ‘He was a tough watch for me. It’s so crazy, too, how these things work out because he was a big-time five-star recruit coming out of the state of Tennessee. He was considered the nation’s top safety prospect. I think his weight fluctuated a lot at LSU. When I watched the senior tape, he looked to me like he weighed 230, then he went to the Senior Bowl and I think he weighed 216, and then it was 212 and his pro day, so I don’t know maybe he got a little quicker. But he clearly had athletic limitations when you watch his 2020 tape. I think if they want to make him a linebacker and get him back up to 230, maybe that’s a good idea. He doesn’t have great change in direction, he doesn’t have range to play on the back end, but as a linebacker we wouldn’t have to worry about that.”
Cosell: “I really liked this kid. I would never have expected a base 4-3 team to draft this kid, unless you’re just going to use him … as an edge pass rusher, which by the way, I think he is. He reminds me of Shaq Barrett. Shaq Barrett wasn’t drafted and for four years, he was kind of a rotational backup player…By the way, Shaq Barrett is playing as a 4-3 D-end. So, from what I’ve heard the Eagles are thinking about making this guy a linebacker, I don’t know that’s their call, they know more than I do, but what his tape shows is a pass rusher that’s got the natural quickness in both off the ball and at the point of contact. He’s got hand usage, he’s got flexibility, he challenged the edge with burst and velocity, he flattened, he closed with speed. I really liked this guy. I thought this kid was very similar to a kid who got drafted in the third round, Malcolm Koonce from Buffalo. I thought they were similar-type prospects and Koonce was the third-round pick. So obviously the teams in the league didn’t share my point of view, that’s OK, but I really like this kid.”
– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to InsideTheBirds.com
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