Two years ago, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama WR DeVonta Smith in the first round.
Some people said that a receiver with his frame couldn’t hold up in the NFL! People really overthink things. They come up bad takes, instead of really knowing how good and talented a player he is. Smith was a dominant player at college football’s premier program. He became the the first WR to win that award in almost 30 years.
The Eagles traded up for Smith in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Two seasons in Philadelphia, he has lived up to that Heisman-level expectations, turning in one of the finest Eagles seasons ever by an Eagles WR.
Smith’s quiet demeanor leaves him out of the limelight. He’s not a walking quote like A.J. Brown. He’s overlooked as “just” a No. 2 guy even though as the Eagles season wore on, it increasingly looked like Smith was the offense’s top target. Truthfully, Philadelphia has two No. 1 WRs.
Smith’s 1,196 receiving yards were the ninth most in the NFL in 2022. He’d be the clear-cut No. 1 wideout on three-fourths of the league’s teams. In his first season, Smith had 64 catches, 916 yards and five TDs. In year 2, he had 95 catches, 1,196 yards and seven TDs. That is top level WR production and it goes along with his highlight reel catches.
Smith set the franchise’s record for catches in a season by a WR with 95, leaping over Irving Fryar’s mark of 88 receptions back in 1996. For an Eagles team that has been starved WR talent for essentially the whole 21st century outside of Terrell Owens’ 2004 season.
Smith’s far from the biggest receiver out there as the “Slim Reaper.” Nor is he the fastest, but he is always open. Zach Ertz had been the hallmark of route-running for Eagles, but as a receiver of his caliber, Smith takes it to a whole different level.
A.J. Brown is a physical force at WR and a big play machine. Smith is smooth and makes everything look effortless. I believe that DeVonta Smith is just scratching the surface on how good that he can be. Eagles are lucky to have two No. 1 WRs in Smith and Brown.
Eagles WR DeVonta Smith. Photo courtsey of BILL STREICHER/USA TODAY SPORTS