Kiper: Eagles’ Kenneth Gainwell ‘Biggest Steal’ of NFL Draft
The Philadelphia Eagles made a big splash when they traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft and selected Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith, but he wasn't the only offensive skill player the team landed.
While general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni consider Smith a difference-maker on and off the field, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell as his late-round steal of this year's draft.
"In 2019 all Kenny Gainwell did was scored touchdowns," Kiper said. "He can catch the ball out of the backfield, game-breaking runner, outstanding football player. They get him in round five, he should have been taken in round three. That's a heck of a pick for the Philadelphia Eagles."
While he opted out of the 2020 college football season, Gainwell rushed for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 51 passes for another 610 yards and three touchdowns, and helped his draft stock with a solid pro day. The 5-foot-11, 201-pounder ran an unofficial 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
“Yeah, I was surprised," Gainwell admitted after being taken in the fifth round. "But I'm happy now. I'm happy I'm with the Eagles. That really doesn't matter. It's time to work. It's time to put in the work. Getting drafted first, getting drafted at the fifth, it doesn't really matter about all that. I am ready to ball for the Eagles.”
Gainwell could have an opportunity to get some meaningful playing time right away when looking at the Eagles running back room.
"Contact balance, his hands, he's a guy we really liked. And we're fired up about," said Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl.
With Miles Sanders, the clear-cut No. 1 running back, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, Adrian Killins Jr., Jason Huntley, and Elijah Holyfield are the other running backs on the current roster that Gainwell will compete with for playing time.