With the No. 10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Eagles select Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith….
DeVonta Smith Career Statistics
The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner turned in a massive 117-1,856-23 line in 2020, becoming the first wideout to win the award since Desmond Howard in 1991. Smith benefitted from the absence of Jaylen Waddle in elevating his production to that award.
Through four full games with Waddle, Smith had fewer receiving yards (483) and the same amount of receiving scores as Waddle (four). Over that span, Smith was still the alpha target (34.1% of the team targets), but over the next eight weeks as the primary wideout, Smith saw his share of the team receiving yardage go from 30.7% over those opening four games to 44.2% and his touchdown share go from 33.3% up to 64.0%.
You can make the case that Smith would not have won the Heisman without Waddle’s injury, but two things with those splits paint a big picture case for Smith. One, his production alongside Waddle was still impressive. Second, everyone knew he was the primary target weekly from that point on and nobody could still stop him. There was an influx of schemed production as Smith led the nation last year in screen receptions (35) and yardage (304), but all he did was turn in big games.
We also have a larger sample with Smith being a hyper-productive player. We can back to his 2019 season when notched a 68-1,256-14 line playing alongside and outproducing two top-15 NFL draft selections in Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy.
The primary discourse around Smith is his size. 170 pounds at his Pro Day and then 166 pounds in his latest weigh-in in Indianapolis, Smith did not alleviate any potential concerns his size may have next level. Since 2000, the only wideouts selected in the first round that were below 180 pounds were Marquise Brown, Tavon Austin, and Ted Ginn. Since 2000, there have been 20 top-24 fantasy seasons from wideouts below 180 pounds and seven of those belong to a Hall of Famer in Marvin Harrison. Placing Hall of Fame expectations on any prospect is lofty and a ceiling outcome, but Emmanuel Sanders and John Brown are more within reasonable outcomes with that potential upside.
Even though the Eagles have selected three wideouts in the draft last year and another in the second round the year prior, they went back to the well at wide receiver.
The Eagles wide receiving unit combined to finish 30th in the league in receptions per game (10.4) and 29th in yardage per game (130.1). The Eagles only targeted their wideouts on 53% of their pass attempts, which was 29th in the league and were 30th in the league in success rate on those targets (47%).
Greg Ward led the team in targets (79), receptions (53), and touchdowns (six) in 2020 while off-the-street pickup Travis Fulgham led the team with 539 yards.
First-round pick Jalen Reagor missed five games due to injury and when on the field, caught just 31-of-54 targets for 396 yards and one touchdown. Catching just one pass for 55 yards in his season debut Week 1, those 55 yards ended up as a season-high.
Jalen Hurts was last in the league in completion rate (52%), but also last in expected completion rate (55.5%) as he had the highest depth of target (10.1 yards downfield) of all quarterbacks last season. Connecting on some deep shots, Hurts did lead all rookie passers in yards per pass attempt (7.7 Y/A) from a clean pocket, something the Eagles should have more of this season and Smith gives him another downfield target.
Early 2021 DeVonta Smith Projection: 108 targets, 64 receptions, 884 yards, 5 TD