Rookie Watch: DeVonta Smith

Steve Hamann

DeVonta Smith
CBSSports.com

Heisman Winner

The Philadelphia Eagles selected the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in this year’s draft in DeVonta Smith. He had a monster senior season at Alabama! He hauled in over 1800 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to being crowned a National Champion. Despite questions about his size and frame, Smith was selected 10th overall by the Eagles. He will reunite with a familiar face in Jalen Hurts, whom he played with early in his career with the Crimson Tide. DeVonta Smith has a fantastic opportunity to play a big part in the Eagles’ offense this year, but will he answer the call?

Young & Talented

Many experts agreed that Smith’s talent far outweighed any questions about his slender size during the draft process. Smith was regarded as the best route runners of any wide receiver in this year’s draft class. As shown many times, the Alabama product has proven that he gets open at all costs and has a knack for finding the football. This year in Philadelphia, I expect the Eagles will move Smith all around the field, but he will find the most success in the slot position.

The first-round draft pick should see plenty of opportunity at all levels downfield in the passing game. Some may worry about Hurts ability to get the ball to his former college teammate. Fans do not need to worry as Smith gets in and out of his breaks quickly and will get open with speed, allowing Hurts to get the ball out fast. My player comparison for DeVonta is Buffalo receiver, Stefon Diggs. Both excel at running routes and play all over the field for their team. Diggs has topped the thousand-yard mark twice in his career, and I expect DeVonta will follow suit throughout his career.

 

DeVonta Smith
Whatproswear.com

Expectations

Vegas bookmakers have set the over/under for Smith’s receiving yards this year at 800.5 yards. Can the first-year wideout top that number? Only four Eagles rookie wide receivers have ever topped that number in year one. Most recently, Jordan Matthews in 2014 hauled in sixty-seven catches for 872 yards. Well, A LOT has changed since 2014, as the NFL game evolves more into a passing league every day. For comparison, Smith’s college teammate Jerry Jeudy had a relatively average rookie campaign. Jeudy was still able to put up 856 yards last year with mediocre quarterback play. I’m smashing the over 800.5 receiving yards and making Vegas pay. I believe Smith will top 900 receiving yards in his first season in the NFL.

Final Thoughts

DeVonta Smith fills a huge void that the Eagles have desired the past few seasons. The organization did not spend an early first-round pick for a role player. Instead, they need him to shine as a WR1 and provide a security blanket for their second-year quarterback. If the Eagles want to turn around from the abysmal 2020 season, getting Smith plenty of opportunity will be their biggest goal. The City of Brotherly Love got a good one and should be excited for years to come.

 

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