As far as rookie receiver DeVonta Smith is concerned his NFL debut couldn’t have gone much better. His first reception resulted in his first touchdown, the Eagles won on the road, and he ended the day leading the team in receiving. However, it was his joyful celebration after the game that caught a lot of attention.
Smith had previously been known as a quiet character. In fact, when the Heisman winner was drafted by the Eagles, it didn’t take long for jokes about him not wanting to be on the team to arise on social media because of his neutral persona. His celebratory dance in the locker room came as a pleasant surprise to many, but Nick Sirianni was not among them.
I see a little bit more of the side you see. Sometimes you’d be surprised as well with coaches sometimes it’s similar. Maybe we see a little bit more. I’ve said this a couple times about a couple different guys in my career, like, ‘Hey, he’s really quiet,’ and guys will laugh at me, like, ‘No, he’s not.’
– Nick Sirianni
Sirianni understandably has an affinity for his WR1, but that goes far beyond the football field. Before the Draft, the Eagles Head Coach was keen to note that if the team were to select the Alabama product, that they would mold their offense around his strengths, downplaying the notion that the wideouts stock was falling because of his lean build and doubling down on a potential fit.
A huge part of the draft process this year was finding high-character guys. Eight of the team’s nine draft picks were team captains in college, which is absolutely astounding. Beyond that, several of the players either have ties to the Eagles or were fans themselves growing up. The Eagles weren’t going to take a player who lacked the character traits needed to thrive in Philadelphia. Smith may not be the loudest voice in the room, but he makes his noise where it counts – on the field.
It’s something we talk about a lot, but not everybody sees it. DeVonta studies tape a lot and studies tape hard. He picks up on those little things. Again, I think he’s obsessed with getting better and obsessed with his craft of being a better wide receiver every day.– Nick Sirianni
It’s easy to see that level of dedication in Smith’s route-running, but we’re now seeing it bleed over into other situations. At the end of the second quarter on Sunday, with the Eagles pressing to score a touchdown right on the edge of halftime, you could audibly hear Smith calling out a CB blitz. Jalen Hurts ended up taking off and rushing for a first down.
The ceiling is extremely high for DeVonta Smith and within the space of just a single game he’s shown Eagles fans everything they could possibly want to see. The fun part will be watching him shine even brighter as the year goes on.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire