Devonta Smith will be vital to the Eagles success down the stretch

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith, left, is pursued by New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones, right, as he scores on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Philadelphia Eagles have built one of the best rosters in the NFL over the last three seasons. One of the key cogs on the roster has been overshadowed over the last season and a half with the addition to star wideout A.J. Brown. That would be his sidekick in DeVonta Smith.

It’s easy for it to happen. Brown has taken the city by storm, winning fans over with his highlight reel catches and touchdowns in the second half of last season and currently on pace for one of the best seasons from an Eagles’ wide receiver in franchise history this season. Not to mention his friendship and connection with Jalen Hurts.

However, “Skinny Batman”, is closer to Batman in his own right than a Robin. Smith turned in his second consecutive 99-yard receiving game Monday night and hauled in a pivotal 41-yard pass from Hurts to set up the go-ahead touchdown in the Eagles’ 21-17 win over Kansas City. He was instrumental down the stretch in the victory where the offense as a whole was abysmal for three-and-a-half quarters. Smith finished the night with six catches averaging 12.4 yards per reception.

Two Number One’s

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Smith, who was the 10th overall pick by the Eagles in the 2021 draft out of Alabama, has put together an impressive resume since he entered the NFL. This season, his 632 yards ranks 25th amongst wide receivers. Last season, he turned in his first-career 1,000-yard campaign and his 1,196 yards was good for 9th-most in the NFL while his 95 catches ser a franchise record for wide receivers. In his rookie season, he racked up 916 yards which placed him 25th as well amongst wideouts.

As to be expected, his numbers and target share has dipped with the addition of Brown, but Smith still poses a legitimate threat to opposing defenses.

Luckily for the Eagles and the fans, he is the 1A option in this offense that has a lot of weapons when fully healthy. It is a luxury the team took full advantage of Monday night when Brown had a rare quiet night since joining the Eagles finishing the game Monday with just one catch for eight yards on four targets.

Don’t Underestimate “Skinny Batman’s” Physicality

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 26: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates a first down during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Brown (a.k.a. “Swole Batman”) relies on his 6’1, 225-pound frame to bully cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage and leverages his physical strength hauling in passes on in routes, slants and on deep routes.

Smith, although a much different build at 6’0, 170, doesn’t play like a smaller wideout. We have seen him high point the football, win 50/50 balls and can stretch the field while making incredible catches with some of the best.

The 25-year-old has 48 catches to go with four touchdowns and on pace for his second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign.

Brown and Smith look like polar opposites, but their game is more similar than one might think, creating one of the best wide receiver duos in the league.

What Happens Next?

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) is stopped by Washington Commanders linebacker Cody Barton (57) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Smith’s rookie contract worth $20.11 million over four years runs through next season and comes with a fifth-year option that the team can choose to exercise. The question is if the Eagles will try to ink Smith to a new deal before the final year and possible option?

Of course, Brown isn’t going anywhere after signing a lucrative contract as soon as he was traded from Tennessee that keeps Brown in South Philly until 2026.

It would behoove the Eagles to re-sign Smith to continue their dominant run that they have been on over the last two seasons. He’s earned it and has emerged as one of the top young wideouts in the NFL despite having his workload split with another superstar wideout in Brown. He has rewarded the franchise with what will be three years of strong production at a premiere position. It’s time for Howie Roseman and the front office to return the favor with a new contract in the near future.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer