For over the last half decade or so, one of the biggest complaints about the Eagles franchise has been their lack of young, high end talent. However, over the past few seasons, the team has drafted and traded for a number of young players that have already had an impact such as DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders, Jalen Hurts, Josh Sweat and more.
This list will rank the top 5 players on this Eagles team who are 25 years of age or less. The only other rule is that the players cannot be rookies, as it’s not really fair to rank a player who has never played professionally before. While these players are very young in their football careers, they still have significant roles on this team.
#4: DeVonta Smith
Clocking in at number four on the list is the Eagles leading receiver from the 2021 season, DeVonta Smith. I had written about the second year wideout in an article earlier this month, specifically citing the numerous reasons on why I believe he will break out into an elite talent in the upcoming 2022 season. Seeing him ranked at four on this list may be a little surprising considering the points I made about him before, but given the people in front of him and his career length, it makes sense to have him at this position. That piece was more about projecting the future, while with this ranking I can only take into account what he has actually accomplished.
Even with that, anytime someone breaks multiple team records as a rookie, they deserve a spot on a list like this. On a team where a few years ago there were no receivers with even 500 yards, DeVonta Smith walked into the NFL and looked pretty darn good, accumulating 916 yards to go along with 5 touchdowns while playing in all 17 games.
That would be considered a good season for most wide receivers and DeVonta Smith did it as a rookie in a run-first offense. He, along with Dallas Goedert, were at the top of the Eagles’ passing offense and did not seem to get intimidated by the pressures of being a number one receiver.
DeVonta Smith constantly had to win battles against some of the top cornerbacks in the league like A.J. Terrell, Trevon Diggs and Marshon Lattimore. The youngster, despite his small frame, was able to adapt to the league and there’s no doubt on anyone’s mind that he looked like he belonged.
While he didn’t catch every pass that was thrown his way, drops were not a consistent issue like other first round receivers of Eagles’ past . In fact, the only consistent issue with him last season was that he was just not given that ball enough. Other young wide receivers within the division like Terry McLaurin and Ceedee Lamb had 130 and 120 targets, respectively, while DeVonta Smith only had 104. This directly correlates with them getting more yardage and breaking the 1,000 yard barrier instead of him.
To take it a step further on how underutilized he was in the offense, his new teammate, A.J. Brown had 1 more target, 105, in 4 less games than Smith. If he is able to consistently get targets and grow into more of a focal point on the Eagles offense, there’s no reason he should not be able to climb this list in the years to come.
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