It’s an unfamiliar feeling in Philly this evening — a sigh of relief. After years of questionable or hopeful selections, the pit in the stomach of Eagles fans everywhere has lifted, at least for the time being. Sitting with the 12th overall pick in hand after trading down from 6th, Philadelphia traded back up to 10th to select Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith. For the team, this pick means more than just the player.
On the outset, it means the team is dedicated to giving Jalen Hurts a fighting chance at turning this franchise around. Something that was brought into question when new head coach Nick Sirianni would not name him the starter. They not only brought in a top receiver, but one that played with the new QB in college. As we saw for years with Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz — every quarterback needs his safety blanket. Hurts’ comfort level in a new offence will immediately be eased with a familiar face in the lineup.
It also means a dedication to reviving the offende. While many wanted the Eagles to consider a defensive coach for their open head coaching position, they went with the offensive minded Sirianni. After selecting a receiver in round one of last year, the Birds doubled down. Looking at the division — specifically the Cowboys and Giants — there are yards to be had against opposing secondaries. Sirianni buttered his bread with three receiver sets with the Colts and will now look to expose opponents with a full roster of young, talented receivers.
Last, but certainly not least: Howie Roseman made a respectable pick. After heaps of deserved criticism, Roseman made the *safe* pick and took a proven contributor. With a history of draft day surprises, and rumors of a “pick out of left field” churning, the stage was set for Howie to make another draft guffaw. And yet, he didn’t — and for that he deserves some credit.
With the Cowboys on the clock, and the Giants waiting in tow, Howie Roseman made a move that we waited with baited breath for him to make last season. The Eagles moved up to get their man. While there were multiple players that fit the ticket, Philadelphia saw Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain Jr. fly off the board early. Again, to his credit, Howie Roseman predicted that the top two players on their big board — Kyle Pitts and Chase — would be off the table, and picked up an extra first rounder next season.
The Cowboys watched the two top corners go to Carolina and Denver, and were looking for trade partners. The Giants more than likely were licking their chops at the opportunity to nab DeVonta at 10, but then came Howie. Swooping in for the cost of a third round pick, fantastic value with another one in hand, the Eagles stole a top player from a divisional opponent. With the players left on the board, every Eagles fan, including myself, could feel the sweat drip down their forehead. And yet, here we are.
In essence, the Eagles traded the sixth overall pick, a 4th and a 5th for the 10th pick, a 4th round pick and 2022 first — and still got a player that was being mocked to them early on in the draft process. Hate him if you must, but this was a win for Howie Roseman.
What does DeVonta Smith bring to the Eagles’ Offense?
The question on everyone’s mind.
Smith will come in fitting the Eagles’ underdog mentality to a t. Questions about his size and physicality flooded the pre-draft process, even after a record setting Heisman season. The guy just seems like the type to bet on himself. I got the same vibe from Jalen Reagor. I think those two will be an awesome tandem for the next few years.
Philadelphia needs to put the league on notice. Nobody was afraid of their offense last season. With a group of young stud receivers with a chip on their shoulder — the tide is coming. The team may still be a few pieces away from winning the division, but they are certainly becoming a tough team to play. I hope Howie will follow suit in the later rounds.
This one’s a doozy. When is the last time we have had a receiver who’s top talent is catching the football? At times it was Alshon Jeffery, and that man brought the team a Super Bowl. Not only does DeVonta have a set of solid mitts, he has an unbelievable catch radius for a man his size. No longer will we have to hold our breath when the football is in the air. You can count on Smith coming down with the football.
Pair this with silky-smooth route running and a high-percentage passing attack, the Eagles should be able to avoid those detrimental third and longs that plagued them all last season. With a new offense, and a second year quarterback, churning out positive plays will be at a premium.
The Eagles have a type of player in house they haven’t had in a long time — a technician. Long gone are the days where Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor were the best runners on the team. This facet cannot be overstated.
Nick Sirianni runs a classic west coast offense, full of efficient, high percentage passes. It all but necessitates a sterling route runner, and the Eagles finally have one. With Zach Ertz possibly exiting, this was a major need for the new look Eagles. I mean no ill will by saying: Philly was about to depend on Greg Ward to be their premier route runner.
No discredit to Jaylen Waddle — he may end up being the better receiver when it’s all said and done — he does not fit the ticket for this offense in the same way that Smith does. With Waddle, the Eagles were looking at a speed only offense, outside of Travis Fulgham, akin to what the Panthers have been trying to deploy for a few years now. The truth is, an NFL offence needs balance.
One of the biggest issues with the offense last season was a lack of creativity. A lot of that blame falls on the coaching staff. However, they were slightly limited by the lack of innovative route runners on the roster. Jalen Reagor came into the league as a less-than-polished route runner, and an untimely injury heavily influenced him improving that facet of his game. Fulgham and Alshon Jeffery weren’t helping matters and Quez Watkins and John Hightower were brought in for their speed. The new coaching staff can now open up the playbook for Smith, who will be able to run anything they can dream up. I am starting to get giddy just thinking about all the broken ankles.
Not only does DeVonta bring balance and creativity to the offense, he opens up the field for the other young players on the field to do what they do best. Teams will no longer be able to drop two safeties and wait for the revolving door of Jalen Reagor, Hightower and Watkins to try their darndest to stretch the field. Put it in pen right now, 2021 will be a MONSTER year for Reagor. The new coaching staff should be able to actually use him properly — playing more in the slot — and he now has a running mate who compliments him beautifully.
How should you feel about the DeVonta Smith pick?
You have got to love this pick. Howie gets a glimmer of redemption. The Eagles came away with a great player that fits their team and can contribute immediately. Especially when considering the players left on the board, moving up for DeVonta Smith — jumping the Giants — was a fantastic choice. It may not be an A+, but it’s a solid A- for Howie Roseman on day one.
Here’s to hoping it continues into the weekend.
Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire