The Philadelphia Eagles traded up two spots in Thursday night’s NFL draft to select DeVonta Smith. The Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama went 10th overall after a pressure-packed, fully-vaccinated night in Cleveland.
The reactions to the pick were overwhelmingly positive. It was refreshing to see and hear. Especially when taking into account the traditionally rough reputation of Philly fans, combined with a sullied track record of poor drafts from the Eagles’ front office. Smith was listed among their top-12 best available players, so they pounced on the opportunity to grab one of the “best guys” on their board. They were determined not to reach this year.
“Our interview was outstanding,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “His football IQ and his love for the game really showed out when we had our hour-long Zoom [call] with him. It really showed out. Everybody was saying the exact same thing, you can’t fake that — of who he is, because he did the exact same thing every time.”
Howie Roseman says “we wanted to make sure we got him” on DeVonta Smith when discussing why they traded back up to get him. He was initially one of the Top 12 guys on their board when they first traded down from 6 to 12. #Eagles #FlyEaglesFly
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) April 30, 2021
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman shared an interesting story about one particular Zoom call that had people scratching their heads. At one point during the interview process, Roseman turned to Smith and asked him if he would fit into Andy Weidl’s suitcase because that’s how strongly he felt about taking the rookie receiver back to Philadelphia and fitting him for a midnight green uniform.
“I was in there for the DeVonta interview and these guys did an amazing job of leading them and I said, ‘Andy, can I just say one thing?’”,” Roseman said, referring to Eagles vice-president of player personnel Andy Weidl. “And I said, ‘DeVonta, can you fit in Andy Weidl’s suitcase and can we take you back with our guys, man?’ And he was just so impressive in that interview and in that moment, and then we handed him off to the coaches.”
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Smith Addresses Size, Weight Concerns
Smith had been falling down draft boards heading into the draft due to size and strength concerns. He measured just 166 pounds at his Alabama pro day, then packed on nine extra pounds to get up to 175 pounds on draft day.
“I saw a guy with length and I saw a guy with toughness.”
— Eagles VP of player personnel Andy Weidl on how the Eagles’ viewed DeVonta Smith’s lack of prototypical size
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) April 30, 2021
That’s still considered small for an elite receiver in the NFL, even if he can run the entire route tree and easily win one-on-one matchups at the line of scrimmage. When asked to comment on his stature, Smith brushed it off and blamed it on lazy reporting.
“I don’t care too much what people say about my weight,” Smith told reporters. “I understand that reporters have a job. It’s their job to make a story, so I just let them do their job and then I just answer, to whatever. I mean I can’t get mad at them for doing their job.”
Howie Roseman asked Nick Sirianni if he played rock-paper-scissors with DeVonta Smith. Sirianni said he didn’t. Howie smiled: “Too soon?”#Eagles
— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) April 30, 2021
Sirianni didn’t seem bothered by Smith’s weight, either. He couldn’t stop gushing about his potential.
“He’s got great quickness off the line of scrimmage. He’s wiry, he is tough to get your hands on,” Sirianni said. “He does have that quick jab to one direction to move the defender to get him off his spot to get into his route. Even when the guy can somewhat get his hands on, he can get his body off it.
“He has that acceleration when they have the angle on him and he beats the angle and goes, right? So those are the things that correlate into that press man to man. So not only did I see that when the corners of the other team were up in his face, but also when the ball was in his hands.”
No Clue the Eagles Were Interested
There was definitely mutual interest between the Eagles and Smith, according to both sides. But Smith never saw a flight to Philadelphia in his future when the Eagles were on the clock, not even after they traded up with the Dallas Cowboys. He was shocked. Happy, but shocked.
“Honestly, I really didn’t know. When they traded up, I really didn’t think they were going to take me,” Smith said. “I mean, the interaction is something I’ll never forget. They were excited. I was excited, overall just happy to be a Philadelphia Eagle.”
Run It Back Thennnn My Boy! You Deserve It All Brotha , Congrats !! Let’s Get To It ‼️@DeVontaSmith_6
— Jalen Hurts (@JalenHurts) April 30, 2021
Yes, Smith has already talked to Jalen Hurts who was his college teammate at Alabama. The two are looking forward to lining up together for the Eagles in 2021. Smith is also hoping to secure a No. 6 jersey in the NFL since the league recently adapted a rule change allowing receivers to wear single digits.
“If I get a chance, that’s what I’m going to go with,” Smith said.