By: Pat Pitts
Devnta Smith is an Eagle. How high will he fly?
The Philadelphia Eagles have not had the most success at the wide receiver position over the past few years. On Thursday night, they made a deal with the Devil down in Dallas to erase 2020’s mistake.
The Eagles selected 2020’s Heisman winner Devonta Smith with the 10th overall pick. The pick itself was not a shock, but the Eagles following through with it was. Jalen Hurts does not just gain a receiver, but an old teammate. Chemistry does not completely disappear.
There has been a lot of discussions around if Smith is “NFL ready” based on his measurements. At Alabama’s Pro Day, Smith weighed in at 170 lbs and measured to be six foot flat. Not the biggest kid on the playground.
Even with being undersized, Devonta Smith fits into the Eagles offense with his route running and his versatility.
How can Devanta Smith be the answer Eagles fans crave?
The Eagles were an offensive disaster in 2020. Between the QB controversy and lack of pass-catchers made it pretty impossible for the Eagles to produce. Wentz is gone; Hurts is in. It is a new era in Philly.
The lack of receivers may not have been the problem. When Jalen Hurts stepped in against the New Orleans Saints, He rushed for 100+ yards, breaking a Saints record too, and proceeded to throw for 300+ yards in back-to-back games.
Wentz did not throw for more than 242 yards in 2020. It was time for a change.
Hurts brings explosiveness to the Eagles offense. With his style of play, he needs a reliable asset lining up next to him. Please welcome, Devanta Smith.
Devanta Smith steps into an offense that fits his style of play extremely well. Smith has one of the best route trees out of all pass catchers in the 2021 NFL Draft class. His route tree makes Hurts life a lot easier.
Smith ran a lot of drag routes in Alabama’s offense. These routes allow the QB to dump the ball quickly if being rushed. Hurts needs a safety blanket like Smith in 2021.
He can execute short routes well, but what about deep ones? Not a problem.
Smith’s breakaway speed gave him a lot of space between the defender and him. He displayed his speed with his swift feet. His footwork puts defenders on skates as he passes by them with ease.
Smith’s separation allows Hurts to air the ball out with more confidence than a year prior. In his few starts, he averaged 7.4 yards/attempt. He is not dumping it every down. He’s looking for the open receiver downfield—a different mentality than the last guy.
Smith’s versatility acts as another reason he fits the Eagles scheme so well. He can be utilized in all types of plays.
Jalen Hurts is not afraid to utilize the run to move the ball downfield. Hurts ability to scramble away from defenders and execute RPO’s allows Smith to thrive in the offense.
Also, Nick Sirianni, Eagles head coach, comes from a run-heavy offense in Indy. He worked with Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, and Nyheim Hines, who have all had break-out seasons since 2019. The Eagles have a plethora of running backs for Sirianni to replicate in 2021.
The Eagles using Smith in run plays is already an improvement from a year ago. They are capitalizing on a player’s strengths to mold the offense around him and a few others.
Smith is the difference-maker Philadelphia needed. It is Jalen Hurt’s offense. The future of the WR core shines bright with Reagor paired alongside Smith.
2020 was the year of losing. 2021 begins the uphill journey back to the top of the mountain. Devonta Smith needs to lead this charge unless it is back to square one for Howie.