October 4, 2023

Eagles pick Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith


Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles really proved something during Thursday night’s draft, and fans should be proud.

The Eagles traded up from 12-to-10 with the Dallas Cowboys to land their guy. The Birds drafted wide receiver DeVonta Smith out of Alabama with the 10th overall pick, landing the dynamic Heisman Trophy winner.

The Eagles traded pick No. 84 in the third round to move in front of the New York Giants to get Smith. The Eagles watched as Jaylen Waddle, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain seven-eight-nine.

For years, the Eagles have struggled to find premier receivers and they’ll now hope they’ve done just that with this selection of Smith. They will be counting on him to become a cornerstone of the franchise.

For a team that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014, the Eagles are hoping Smith can change all that.

In Philly, Smith will be reunited with Jalen Hurts, who was his teammate at Alabama.

While there’s no denying Smith’s talent after a season in which he dominated the SEC, there are some concerns about his size and how his game will translate into the NFL because of it. Smith at the combine medical check, came in at 6-foot, 166 pounds. The Eagles just made him the lightest receiver ever to be selected in the first half of the draft.

Smith is dynamic at the line of scrimmage. You’d think bigger DB’s would be able to press and lock him down, but Smith is able to shake bigger corners, get open and doesn’t drop many footballs.

During his Heisman season in 2020, Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards (15.9) and 23 touchdowns. That came after a junior season in which he had 68/1,256/14. Despite his small stature, Smith played the X receiver position at Alabama and still put up monster numbers. Last week, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni pointed out that X receivers come in all sizes; the most important thing is that they can win 1-on-1 matchups. Smith has done that consistently at a high level.

Smith might projects more as a Z receiver in the NFL. But the Eagles will be able to find ways to get Smith and Jalen Reagor, last year’s first round pick, on the field together.

The Eagles group of wideouts is young and inexperienced but seems to have some talent. Smith will join a group that already includes Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Quez Watkins, John Hightower, Greg Ward Jr., and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. While there’s some talent in that group, it’s unproven talent. It’ll be up to the new coaching staff to get the most out of those players.

Smith is also the first player the Eagles have drafted directly out of Alabama since the fifth round of the 2002 draft, when they took Freddie Milons. And he’s the first Alabama player ever taken in the first round by the Eagles.

The Eagles had the No. 12 pick after trading down from No. 6 last month, a move that netted them another first-rounder in 2022. They eventually moved up two spots and landed their guy.

All I have to say, general manager Howie Roseman, as he is known for doing, didn’t blow this draft.

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