Rookie Profile – DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith - WR - University of Alabama

DeVonta Smith finally got his shot to be the wide receiver one for Alabama’s offense in 2020, giving him an important season for his rookie profile. He took that opportunity and became the first wide receiver to win a Heisman Trophy since 1991 and got a National Championship. The biggest questions many have is whether he can produce at the same level in the NFL and why did it take him so long to break out? Smith is a stud on tape, but provides a shaky analytics profile.

Draft Results

Round: 1
Pick: 10
Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Measurables

Age: 22

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 170 lbs

40-yard dash: DNP

3-cone drill: DNP

20-yard shuttle: DNP

Vertical Jump: DNP

Broad Jump: DNP

Bench Press: DNP

Analytics

College DOM College YPR College Target % Breakout Age
51.3%
15.9
34.6%
20.8

College Stats

Receiving Formation
Year
Team
Class
GP
Rec
Yds
YPC
TD
Snaps
Slot Snaps
Wide Snaps
2017
Alabama
Fr.
8
8
160
20
3
-
-
-
2018
Alabama
So.
13
42
693
16.5
6
629
15
614
2019
Alabama
Jr.
13
68
1256
18.5
14
626
123
501
2020
Alabama
Sr.
13
117
1856
15.9
23
780
270
505
College Career

DeVonta Smith joined the Crimson Tide as part of a loaded wide receiver recruiting class that included Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. Not to mention Najee Harris and Tua Tagovailoa also being a part of this class that built multiple National Championship title runs. As a true freshman, Smith was buried on a depth chart with the players in his recruiting class along with current NFL pass catchers Calvin Ridley, Irv Smith Jr., Cam Sims, and Robert Foster. As a sophomore in 2018, Ridley left for the NFL and the core of Smith, Waddle, Jeudy, and Ruggs thrived. Jeudy led the pack with 1300+ receiving yards, but the rest of the core accrued over 650 receiving yards each. Going into the 2019 season, it was actually Smith that led the way with 1250+ receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. The offense as a whole was dynamic with playmakers at every position and each member of the group had over 550 receiving yards.

Going into his senior season, Ruggs and Jeudy were off to the NFL and it was Smith and Waddle as the sole receivers left of the dynamic group to lead the pack. Smith and Waddle were both excellent in the receiving game and were absolutely dominant through the first few games of the season. Then Waddle went down with an injury and missed a majority of the season. Smith was a massive benefactor of this and was the new quarterback Mac Jones’ favorite target down the stretch. Smith put on a historic performance racking up 1850+ yards and 23 touchdowns through the air. On top of leading the team to a National Championship, he also was awarded CFP MVP, the first Heisman Trophy to a wide receiver since 1991, Maxwell Award, Biletnikoff Award, Unanimous All-American, and many more awards.

During the offseason, the biggest question mark surrounding DeVonta Smith was his weight. Was he big enough to succeed at the next level? Could his smaller frame hold up to NFL defenses? Smith left these questions up for debate and decided he had done enough on film to speak for itself. While he was present at the Senior Bowl, he did not weigh in there or at his pro-day, as well as did not participate in pro-day workouts. Despite the question marks, it was clear that teams believed he did enough in his four years at college to make him a top 10 pick and the third wide receiver off the board in the 2021 draft.

Scouting Report

Positives:

DeVonta Smith is an incredibly smooth player on the field. He creates separation with ease within his routes by creating leverage either inside or outside. He stacks the defender very well, consistently putting them off balance and creating space. He has solid breaks within his routes with fluid hips. When on the line, he can make defenders pay for playing him too aggressively. His release at the line is unmatched in this class with his footwork and technique that he constantly changes up to keep defenders on their toes.

Once he creates the separation he is known for, he possesses solid speed that will translate well to the NFL. Despite his slight frame, he plays tough by making contested catches over the middle while he gets hit or by laying out great blocks for his teammates. Not only can he make these contested catches, but on the sideline he has shown the ability to go up and get it over a defender. In addition to this, he provides reliable hands. Whether the defender is playing tight coverage, a toe tapping sideline catch, or a tough over the shoulder catch it is a pretty good bet that Smith will come down with the ball.

On top of what he provides physically on tape, Smith can provide intangibles to an offense as well. He has great football IQ, recognizing zone coverages and finding the soft spots or knowing when to work back to his quarterback for a bit of backyard football when the play breaks down. While Smith was a predominantly outside wide receiver, he showed the ability to successfully line up in the slot when asked to. This provides more lineup versatility and more ways to get the ball in Smith’s hands at the next level.

Negatives

Obviously the biggest knock on Smith is his size. Not only is that a question of how he will hold up in the NFL, but it also makes him an analytical outlier. Smith is only average in open space. He occasionally showed some twitch to make defenders miss, but generally he will get what is blocked in front of him or can hit the open space. He is definitely not the YAC monster we see in other prospects in this class, but he is serviceable in this area.

Post Draft Analysis

Draft Capital:

Philadelphia Eagles: Round 1, Pick 10

Landing Spot:

DeVonta Smith was the third wide receiver off the board in the 2021 draft going pick 10 in the first round to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have been looking for wide receiver help for some time now with JJ Arcega-Whiteside not panning out, Jalen Reagor having a slow start to his rookie season, and Alshon Jeffrey officially departed this offseason. The main pass catchers in this offense have been tight ends for some time now, but it appears the changing of the guard is finally here in that category. Zach Ertz is an aging vet at this stage in his career and fans are still waiting on Dallas Goedert to break out. The alpha pass-catcher role is wide open for the Eagles and all signs are pointing to ample opportunity for Smith to take charge of the Eagle’s air attack. 

Smith should walk in Day 1 as a starter for the Eagles lining up out wide. It doesn’t hurt that he is one of the many rookies to pair up with one of his former college quarterbacks, so there should be some chemistry there already. If Jalen Hurts can take a step forward and develop as a passer, Smith should be a big reason for that and both players could elevate each other’s game.

Fantasy Impact

The Eagles taking DeVonta Smith as a top 10 draft pick in the NFL shows their faith in the player to be an immediate impact starter for their team. They are expecting big things from Smith and believe in his potential to be a true alpha for their team. It’s generally hard to envision rookie wide receivers producing in their first year, but we have been spoiled the past few years. With the combination of opportunity and talent, Smith could have a very productive year one. In redraft leagues, if he makes it to the later rounds, he might be worth a gamble on as your wide receiver four. In dynasty leagues, Smith is a clear-cut top-tier prospect at the wide receiver position. He shouldn’t be leaving the first round of super flex drafts. He provides a usable floor in year one and should continue to develop into a potential yearly wide receiver one for your team. 

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Image Credit: John David Mercer – USA TODAY Sports