The Philadelphia Eagles were sitting at No. 12 overall and seized an opportunity to move up in the draft to select wide receiver DeVonta Smith. After the Denver Broncos surprised everyone and selected CB Patrick Surtain, the Cowboys were sitting at No. 10 overall and without either of the two corners on the board. The Eagles, knowing the Giants (who selected at No. 11 overall) were very interested in Smith, made the aggressive decision to trade up from No. 12 to 10 with Dallas to secure the Heisman Trophy winner.
Rated a four-star prospect out of Amite Magnet High School (about an hour north of New Orleans), DeVonta Smith had offers from pretty much every major college football program but agreed to go to Alabama. He had to wait for his time to play, collecting eight catches as a freshman and 42 more as a sophomore. But by his 2019 breakout season, Smith was playing with Jerry Jeudy and ahead of Henry Ruggs in two-receiver sets for the Crimson Tide. While Jeudy and Ruggs elected to go pro in 2020, Smith stuck around for his senior season and in 11 games he reeled in 117 passes for 1,856 yards and an unfathomable 23 touchdowns.
Smith's amazing year included a National Championship win (actually his second -- he was on the 2017 team), the College Football Playoff Offensive MVP award, the 2020 Biletnikoff Award to college football's best wide receiver, and the 2020 Heisman Trophy to college football's best player.
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Smith from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
More Fantasy breakdowns
- QB: | | | |
- RB: |
- WR: | | |
As Dave Richard said best, Smith might be able to rocket into Philadelphia and become their No. 1 receiver overnight. The Heisman winner joins a receiver corps that selected a wide receiver in the first round in 2020 (Jaelen Raegor) and the second round in 2019 (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside). Of course, the latter hasn't worked out and may not be in the team's plans moving forward. As for Reagor, injuries led to a slow start for him in his rookie season and a strong case can be made that he's no longer the most talented receiver on the roster.
With Jalen Hurts expected to take over as the starting quarterback after only taking over late in his rookie season, it's a clean slate for the receiver corps. Hurts doesn't have much of a rapport developed with Raegor, Zach Ertz (if he remains on the roster and is not traded) or talented tight end Dallas Goeddert. Smith can immediately take over in the high-volume role Fantasy analysts projected for Raegor in year one. Raegor flew up draft boards in August with the expectation he could be the No. 1 before falling off late in August after getting hurt. A healthy and productive training camp could lead to Smith being one of the first rookie receivers selected in Fantasy drafts this summer. - Dan Schneier
Smith is still likely to come off the board after Ja'Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts, but landing in Philadelphia should help him jump his former teammate Jaylen Waddle as the No. 2 rookie receiver off the board in Dynasty drafts. Recency bias when it comes to Tua Tagovailoa will bring down Waddle's value and Smith's potential for a high-volume role right away should raise his up. He is going to be a first-round pick in all rookie drafts -- including Superflex and 2-QB leagues.
- Stacked defensive backs off the snap with varied stutter steps and hesitation moves followed by excellent short-area quickness.
- Smith's magnificent footwork bought him a step, his very good burst bought him another. That's how he gained leverage so quickly.
- Was a route-running technician, which was how he got open frequently. Ran just about every route including some wild stuff in pre-snap motion.
- Terrific change of direction. Masterful at the comeback/curl route; made defenders pay for being too far off of him in zone coverage.
- Great head-fake also helped sell routes and buy separation.
- Glided downfield with subtle speed changes to trick defenders.
- Easy handed. Plucked most balls within his catch radius (and even a few that seemed out of his catch radius).
- Had 145 targets, 117 receptions and five drops in 2020. Adjusted to off-target throws mostly well. Was a big-time leaper on high throws.
- Made some incredible contested catches in the back of the end zone. The LSU highlight above is the best of the bunch, but there are others.
- Didn't tip his hand when passes came his way, keeping defenders from making a play on the ball.
- Reliably followed blocks on screens.
- Very good effort in blocking, good results most of the time.
- Went injury-free in 2020 until freak finger dislocation cost him the second half of the National Championship Game. Didn't miss a game in 2019 but did leave a game early with a shoulder/arm injury (left arm in a sling). Worth noting: missed two games in 2018 with a hamstring strain.
- Seems humble. Played with a chip on his shoulder because of his size. Believes in working hard to get results. Claims to be a film junkie.
- Upper-body frame and skinny legs reflect his lightweight status and put his durability into question. Claimed to weigh 170 pounds in March and refused to get weighed at January's Senior Bowl. Has been undersized his whole life, reportedly weighing 157 pounds in high school.
- Average hand size (9 3/8 inches) in line with the rest of his body.
- Speed was inconsistent -- sometimes he'd turn it on, sometimes he wouldn't (or couldn't). Rarely showed a top gear and frankly was sometimes disappointing to watch because he couldn't always sprint past a defense.
- Struggled to get away from physical cornerbacks who got their hands on him in the first few steps of his route.
- Physical as a blocker, but not when it came to breaking tackles to extend plays.
- Didn't break a ton of tackles and had only 10 missed tackles forced in 2020, 39th in the nation.
|2019 v top 25||4||22||448||20||4|
|2020 v top 25||6||58||930||16.0||13|
Advanced stats to know
(all from 2020)*
- 8.2 yards after catch per reception ranked tied for 20th in the nation.
- Scored at least two times in seven of his final eight games (19 touchdowns total). Four of the games were against ranked opponents. Smith had five multi-score games in his college career before those eight games.
- Totaled over 100 yards in seven of his final eight games (1,300 yards total). Smith had seven 100-plus-yard games in his college career before those eight games.
- Led the nation with 15 deep receptions for 589 yards in 2020.
- Eleven contested catches tied for fifth-best in the nation.
- Sizable percentage of his 2020 stats came on screens: 35 receptions and 304 yards led the nation.
- Ten missed tackles forced in 2020, 39th in the nation.
- Ten career drops on 306 career targets.
There has been some high praise for Smith when it comes to comps -- Marvin Harrison and Antonio Brown are two names bandied about. I see Smith as a shorter, leaner version of Chad Johnson. Both receivers crave the football and get it because of their footwork more than their deep speed. That's not to say Smith (or Johnson) never burned defenses, but it's not their No. 1 quality. It's the way they move off the snap and in their routes, and it's special in the case of Smith. The difference between them is that Johnson had the size to line up as a split end and deal with the physicality of defensive backs. Smith should be used more as a slot receiver and flanker, lining up behind the line of scrimmage to avoid getting grabbed every play. That's not a bad thing, especially if he indeed lands in an offense that needs to get the football into a playmaker's reliable hands.