Sometimes, it’s easy to see things because they’re so obvious. That won’t always mean that there won’t be hesitancy to make bold proclamations. Some people don’t want to be wrong, especially when they’re talking to one of the most demanding fan bases in all of the professional sports, the one belonging to the Philadelphia Eagles. If you’re like some of us, however, that wasn’t the case when the Birds made Kenneth Gainwell the 150th-overall selection during Round 5 of 2021’s NFL Draft.
He hadn’t played a down in the NFL yet. We didn’t even know what his jersey number was going to be yet, but we knew Philly had something. The word ‘steal’ was even being tossed around, and that doesn’t happen very often when we’re discussing fifth-rounders.
Fast forward to the present, and those of us who believed in him were right. Heading into the 2022-2023 NFL regular season, he’s found his way onto a list that should pique any football fan’s interest.
Kenneth Gainwell is named as one of CBS Sports’ under-the-radar players that could morph into NFL stars in 2022.
Known primarily for his work in covering the Dallas Cowboys, CBS Sports and Pro Football Writers of America mainstay Patrik Walker normally delivers the goods. That is if you aren’t turned off by his affiliation to the enemy.
Recently, in his take on sub-radar players on every NFC team that could break out and become stars in 2022, he named Kenneth Gainwell as his pick for Philadelphia. Here’s some of his defense for making that claim.
If you’re an Eagles fan, you have to like what you saw from Gainwell as a rookie. He showed ability not just on handoffs but particularly as a receiver out of the backfield. He set a solid foundation for himself that Nick Sirianni will look to build upon in 2022, and that could eventually make Gainwell the feature back in Philly, especially if Miles Sanders continues to battle durability issues. He would have to fight off veteran running back Boston Scott, however, but even if time is split between two of the three, there’s a huge opportunity here for Gainwell to make sure he’s not the odd man out.
After a First-Team All-AAC nod in 2019 to punctuate his final year at the collegiate level with the Memphis Tigers, year one for Kenneth Gainwell produced 291 rushing yards on 68 attempts during 16 games with one start.
He added value in the passing game as well, hauling in 33 receptions for 253 yards. He reached paydirt six times, five times as a rusher and once as a receiver. He even caught a touchdown pass in Philadelphia’s lone playoff game.
The questions now are about what will he do for an encore. He’ll have opportunities to make some magical things happen with Shane Steichen taking over play-calling duties, but the best part about this is those of us who believed in him were right to be excited.
We hear about draft busts all of the time. We spend tons of time discussing them. Sometimes, it’s good to talk about the guys that exceeded expectations and are making names for themselves.