Plus: Which WRs will make the roster?
The Eagles did it! THE EAGLES DID IT! DeVonta Smith is an Eagles. HE’S OURS!
I’ve been over the freakin’ moon about this the last several days. This is the type of energy I have during the week following an Eagles win in the fall. I’ve been begging the gods for the Eagles to add some electricity and juice to this roster. They delivered it in the form of the Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama wide receiver.
Let’s get to the first post-draft mailbag questions…
@IrishIggles: Smith predictions for the year and how much to bet on him winning Of?
There have been 29 seasons in NFL history where a player has had at least 1,000 receiving yards in their rookie campaign. Seven of them have come since 2014 alone, illustrating how much the game has changed offensively and how different the developmental curve for receivers has come to be.
Why can’t Smith be the 30th player to reach that mark?
He’s going to get all the targets in a weak receiving group (more on that in a bit). The Eagles probably aren’t going to be that great in 2021, necessitating them to throw the ball a ton if they get behind early in games, leading to padded stat totals.
One Alabama receiver to hit 1,000 yards in their first year was Amari Cooper in 2015 for the Raiders. Cooper recorded 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. I say Smith hits those numbers, if not better!
Only two Eagles receivers have ever hit 800 yards as a rookie: DeSean Jackson in 2008 (912) and Jordan Matthews (872) in 2014. I’ve been saying that Smith will be the Eagles’ most dynamic offensive weapon since Jackson’s first stint in Philly. He’s in a position to perhaps have one of the best rookie seasons for any Eagle ever.
As for Rookie of the Year odds, I got Smith +1700 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year ($20 to win $340) last Thursday. We just saw Justin Jefferson win the award as a rookie with huge numbers in a pass-heavy offense [edited note: Justin Herbert won Rookie of the Year in 2020]. It’s not hyperbolic to believe Smith could produce like a Pro Bowler in Year 1.
Those are decent odds, right? If I’m being objective, I like Trey Lance +900. He’s going to be on a very good team with talent around him and he has a great coach. It feels like San Francisco is due for a “worst-to-first” type season after dealing with a plethora of injuries in 2020.
The DeVonta Smith bandwagon is more crowded than the Broad Street Line after an Eagles game and I’m in the driver’s seat. I am officially predicting that he will win the award.
@JediMrFan: Which WRs do you think are going to make the roster?
Great question. The three absolute locks to me are Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Greg Ward Jr. I believe Travis Fulgham will get on the team fairly easily too. That’s four and I can see the Eagles carrying six wide receivers. It comes down to a group of four to me for those final two spots: Quez Watkins, John Hightower, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Trevon Grimes.
Let’s make this an either-or scenario. They’re going to want one more speed guy, so that decision is between Watkins and Hightower, two 2020 draft picks. They’d also have to decide between bigger body wideouts in the highly disappointing JJAW and new undrafted rookie free agent Grimes.
Watkins flashed a bit down the stretch last season and it appears that he has a rapport with Jalen Hurts after their shared time getting practice squad reps. Hightower’s drop issues are highly concerning. I’ll lean Watkins. As for JJAW vs. Grimes, I’m going out on a limb and saying Grimes becomes the latest fan-favorite training camp guy. Grime is 6’4” and 218 lbs. He had nine touchdowns at Florida in 2020. You know Howie Roseman loves his Florida guys too. A separation from JJAW is probably best for both guys at this stage.
That gives us Smith, Reagor, Ward, Fulgham, Watkins, and Grimes. Not a great group, but there’s upside with Smith being a star in the waiting, Reagor bouncing back from a slow rookie year, Fulgham potentially resembling the player he was during a weirdly dominant stretch last year, and lottery tickets in Watkins and Grimes. Ward is there, steady as always, with his seven-yard third-down catches too.
@SwaggyMitch: Who starts at left tackle week 1?
All the whispers seem to point to Andre Dillard falling out of favor with the Eagles organization. He’s entering his age-26 season and whether because of circumstance or injury, has yet to be a full-time starter in the NFL. The prospects there aren’t great.
It has to be Jordan Mailata, right? You’re expecting more consistency than what you got with him in 2020, but given that it was his first season of actually playing football in his life, it’s hard to view that year has anything but encouraging.
I could’ve seen the Eagles opting to grab an offensive lineman in the first round, but they obviously went with Smith. It remains to be seen whether Mailata will establish himself as the true left tackle of the future (I believe he will be a Pro Bowl player one day), but he’s going to have the opportunity to do so this fall.
@killakow: Did you think the DeVonta Smith pick was generally positive?
My sources are telling me the Eagles did the right thing.