Wow! Day 1 of the NFL Draft did not disappoint, which I think was the concern of Eagles fans everywhere. Not only did the Eagles acquire another first round draft pick for next year, but still selected a guy high on their draft board in DeVonta Smith. Where is Howie Roseman and what did you do with him? Keep him there for the next couple days to keep this success rolling into Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft. To make the selection even sweeter, we traded with the Cowboys to get ahead of the Giants, all for a third-round pick. First “keeping” the 6-9 Giants out of the playoffs followed up with snatching Smith from them feels really good and they seem to be handling it very well. Roseman has heard the criticism this offseason and decided to run the score up.
— EROCK (@Eric_Emanuele) April 30, 2021
With Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain being selected at eight (Carolina Panthers) and nine (Denver Broncos), respectively, it changed all plans for the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles. Mac Jones and Justin Fields falling out of top 10 didn’t help either. Although either cornerback would have been an excellent compliment to Darius Slay, taking Smith was best case scenario given how the pieces fell. If thinking about Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor, Smith, and maybe Zach Ertz(?) doesn’t get you excited, you clearly are not an Eagles fan. Adding another dynamic player to an offense that struggled to find any kind of consistency last year gives hope for a brighter 2021 season.
The Slim Reaper is a walking clutch gene. For a wide receiver corps of Calvin Ridley, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and Jaylen Waddle, it would have been easy to get lost in the shuffle during his time at Alabama, but Smith did not. Instead, he caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime in the 2018 College Football National Championship as a freshman, and only got better from there. Almost 4,000 yards, 48 touchdowns, and a whole lotta awards later, the Eagles have themselves their first first-round exciting wide receiver since Jeremy Maclin. Not a diss on Reagor at all, but Smith has the hype all around him.
The obvious knock is his size, standing 6’1” and 175 pounds, but that didn’t seem to slow him down playing in an NFL-like caliber SEC conference. Not to mention going up against that Alabama defense daily in practice. Since Smith joined Alabama, the Crimson Tide has seen seven defensive backs drafted to the NFL. And with the wide receivers also drafted to the NFL, Smith had to be on his A game day-in, day-out for four years. This is an iron-man type player, who is going to bring his toughness and grit to the city of brotherly love.
I haven’t felt this excited and optimistic for a first round pick since Carson Wentz (sigh) in 2016, and before that was Lane Johnson in 2013. I forgot what being happy after Day 1 of the NFL draft felt like, and could get used to this feeling. But more importantly, let’s hope Roseman keeps this momentum going, and has a strong Day 2 and 3. Would love to see Asante Samuel Jr. with the second round pick as his dad was one of my favorite NFL players, even before he became an Eagle in 2008.
Feature image: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images