Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith sure passes the eye test

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

DeVonta Smith would look pretty good in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.

While the Philadelphia Eagles still technically have a game to play this weekend- though, with Matt Pryor and Brett Toth playing tackle, calling it a game is really debatable- fans in the Delaware Valley had their eyes fixed on the college ranks to scout out the next generation of NFLers.

Unfortunate? Maybe so, but when your team has a projected top-five pick, it’s only natural.

With four New Years Day Bowl games on the docket with everyone from stalwarts like Clemson to plucky upstarts like Cincinnati, there was something to watch for every fan of college football- unless, of course, your favorite team didn’t make it to the big dance.

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And do you know who was the very best player of them all? Yeah, that’d be Alabama wide receiver, DeVonta Smith.

Is that a bold statement? Most def. One could go so far as to say Smith isn’t even the best player on the Crimson Tide, as running back Najee Harris had himself a game in Bama’s big win over Notre Dame, but the praise is just. You don’t just fall into 130 yards and three touchdowns on seven targets by mistake, after all.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2017, Smith has been a worker, a grinder. He’s played on the outside, played in the slot, and even tried his hand as a returner after his partner in crime – and fellow surefire 2021 first-round selection – Jaylen Waddle went down with a fractured ankle. Waddle has played with running quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts, ‘mobile’ quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa, and even turned Mac Jones, a fringe Day 3 pick at best, into a potential national championship-winning quarterback.

With one more game left to play in his college career, Smith is seven catches away from being Alabama’s all-time receptions leader and is already number one in receiving yards (3,620), touchdown receptions (40), single-game catches (15), single-game yards (274), and single-game touchdowns (five) as per our friends over at Sports Illustrated.

When you consider wide receivers like Amari Cooper, Henry Ruggs, and Julio Jones have all called Mobile home over the last decade, that’s a pretty impressive feat.

Why, you may ask, is any of Smith’s statistical mastery relevant on this, a Philadelphia Sports Blog? Well, because Smith will all but surely be on the board when the Eagles are on the clock in the 2021 NFL Draft, and there’s a growing campaign to procure his services among the fanbase.

In theory, it makes sense. Regardless of the Eagles’ issues across the board at cornerback, linebacker, offensive line basically every position on the football field, the team has been particularly horrible at the wide receiver position for the better part of a decade. Is horrible maybe a strong word? Eh, maybe so, but what else would you call a unit that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin back in 2014? Heck, the Eagles haven’t even had a wide receiver lead the team in receiving since Jordan Matthews accomplished the feat in 2015, with Zach Ertz having accomplished the feat from 2016-19, and Travis Fulgham on-track to be the Birds’ high man on the 2020 season at 524 yards and counting.

Smith – or his chief competitor for the top WR1 spot, Ja’marr Chase – could fix those discrepancies in a hurry.

While he may not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest receiver in the nation, Smith is an elite route runner, a soft hand catcher, and an incredibly bright football mind. He finds ways to get open, finds ways to get around would-be tacklers, and even finds a way to truck through ones who connect like his fellow former Elephant Derrick Henry.

And the best part of all? Smith is an incredibly inclusive player who will fit into any wide receivers room without issue.

Call him the anti-Ben Simmons if you will, but Smith can play any wide receiver position across the board – X, Y, Z, A, B, or even C – and complement the players a team already has under contract. If the Eagles deem Fulgham a legitimate X receiver, and they want to play Jalen Reagor at Z, then Smith could instantly ‘slot’ in as an elite inside option. If they instead want to play Ward in the slot and need production from Alshon Jeffery‘s former spot, that’s cool too; Smith is an amazing route runner who could dominate at the X spot at pretty much anything but 50-50 jump balls.

I don’t know how fast Smith runs, but I imagine he’d even be able to play the Z receiver spot – he’s just that good.

Simply put, DeVonta Smith is good enough to make any team that signs him better regardless of their situations, means, and current construction.

Next. What should Travis Fulgham’s role be in 2021?. dark

Should the Philadelphia Eagles draft a wide receiver in the top-five after using two of their last five first-round picks on the position? That, my friends, is the ‘$25 million over four years plus a $15 million fifth-year option’ dollar question. Fortunately, the team’s from office has one more chance to scout it out, as Devonta Smith and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be playing the winner of the Ohio State-Clemson game in the National Championship game while the Eagles are sitting at home pining for a post-COVID world where they can take a proper vacation.