Eagles rookie report: DeVonta Smith waits, Milton Williams impresses

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles have been in training camp for more than two weeks and have one preseason game under their belt -- a 24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

It's a good time to take a look at how their 2021 NFL draft class is coming along:

DeVonta Smith, WR, Round 1, No. 10 overall

Smith, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury he suffered when lunging toward the ground to try and haul in a Jalen Hurts pass. Hurts and Smith could have benefited from getting reps together during camp, but Smith is showing signs of progress and is expected back soon. He has been doing conditioning work on a side field over the past couple days and appears to be moving pretty well.

Smith was drawing strong reviews from his coaches and teammates before the injury. He's expected to be the Eagles' lead wide receiver this season.

Landon Dickerson, OL, Round 2, No. 37

Dickerson was placed on the non-football injury list in late July as he continues rehab for a torn ACL he suffered at Alabama during the SEC Championship Game in December. He has been limited to side work with the Eagles' other injured players up to this point in camp.

"I'm not going to put a timetable on Landon," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said when asked when Dickerson might be ready to play. "He's working hard with the training staff to get himself ready to go. I see him every day working full speed in meetings and in walk-throughs, watching reps as well. I'm pleased with where he is mentally, that's all we can really judge on him right now, and where he is on his rehab schedule."

When he was drafted, Dickerson said the goal was "to be at practice by the start of the season."

Milton Williams, DL, Round 3, No. 73

Williams has been a standout at camp even as he cross-trains to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. He's got a quick get-off, strong hands and can be disruptive in the backfield, as he showed against the Steelers.

He's making a push to be part of the defensive line rotation that already features Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.

"Milton has been good. He's been getting better every day," said Cox. "Playing multiple positions can be really hard, especially for a young guy.

"When you see a young guy like that, it makes you want to make them better. ... I've helped him on a few things. He's taken it, taken to coaching and he's been really good for us here early in camp, and he's going to be really good for us this year."

Zech McPhearson, CB, Round 4, No. 123

Thursday's game against Pittsburgh was a little bumpy for McPhearson, but his overall body of work this summer has been strong. Playing outside corner with the second team, he has routinely been around the ball and has registered a number of pass breakups. He has one interception in camp, a total that could stand at three or four if not for some drops. He's not afraid to be physical and his game appears to translate well to the pros overall.

McPhearson has shown a tendency to be a little handsy in coverage of late, including on a red zone play against the Steelers when he was flagged for pass interference in the end zone. That needs to be cleaned up.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Round 5, No. 150

Gainwell has been used in the pass game quite a bit during camp, and for good reason: He caught 51 balls for 610 yards and three touchdowns his final season at Memphis. He didn't flash much early on -- there could have been some rust after opting out last season -- but has been more productive of late.

Gainwell had two carries for 14 yards and a pair of catches for 16 yards against the Steelers, showing decent burst and an ability to break some tackles. He looks like a lock to make the team and should contribute this season.

Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, Round 6, No. 189

It's been a quiet couple weeks for Tuipulotu. Training camp isn't exactly an ideal setting to evaluate a run-stuffing defensive tackle given that players are in shorts and shells half the time. But he seemed to have a quiet night against Pittsburgh and will need to make some noise the rest of the way to secure a spot in a deep defensive line group.

Tarron Jackson, DE, Round 6, No. 191

Jackson made a splash Thursday by slicing in the backfield and registering a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter. He has had some good moments at camp, but his game probably needs refinement before cracking the rotation. Graham, the Eagles' veteran defensive end, has been complimentary of Jackson and the way he goes about his work. He should find a spot on the roster as he continues to develop.

JaCoby Stevens, LB, Round 6, No. 224

Stevens was making strides in his transition from safety to linebacker before getting hurt during camp. He had an interception against the first-team offense this month, but the next day was put on the injury report with a hamstring issue and is considered week-to-week.

Patrick Johnson, OLB, Round 7, No. 234

He had six tackles and a tackle for loss against Pittsburgh. Johnson is transitioning from defensive lineman to linebacker and has been getting work in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon's system as a stand-up rusher/outside 'backer in 3-4 looks. More solid showings like the one he had Thursday could cement his spot on the roster.