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DeVonta Smith NFL Draft 2021: Scouting Report for Philadelphia Eagles WR

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 30, 2021

FILE - In this  Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 file photo, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith runs for a touchdown against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game in Miami Gardens, Fla. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of Alabama is scheduled to appear in person in Cleveland at the NFL draft later this month. Smith, the wide receiver projected to be a high first-round pick, is among a group of players who have accepted their invitations to attend the draft.(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press


HEIGHT:
 6' ¼"

WEIGHT: 166


POSITIVES

— Utilizes his arms to extend and play bigger than his listed height. Outstanding hand-eye coordination allows him to snatch throws at the high point, and coming at his body, he will reach out and snatch the throw.

— Natural ball catcher at all angles. Able to snatch low throws and also come down with high ones. Combined with his athleticism, it allows him to generate more yards after catch even if the throw isn’t perfect.

— Fluid and very good athlete. Glider with excellent body control who can stop and start quickly and easily. Accelerates quickly at the beginning of routes and with the ball in his hands. Knows how to get north and split defenders as opposed to juking.

— Has the core strength and athleticism to stay balanced, even through contact. Plays surprisingly strong throughout his game, especially coming up with contested catches.

— Very competitive, can tell he loves the game. Tries to snatch throws and win 50-50 battles, even when outsized. Wants to generate as many yards as possible with the ball in his hands. Will compete while run blocking.

— Understands space and timing on his routes. Has natural spatial awareness to find open spots for scramble drill and versus zone coverages. Very good overall route runner, consistently able to get in and out of route breaks and doesn’t get “stuck.” Stays friendly to the QB on his route tops and when working across the field. Able to beat press with his body control and use of tempo that keeps CBs off-balance.

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— Can align inside and out, but he would benefit most from a team with more vertical and intermediate routes if asked to play from the slot.

   

NEGATIVES

— Poor bulk. Rail thin. Almost literally so.

— Not laterally twitchy. Isn’t going to juke guys in tight spaces.

   

2020 STATISTICS

13 G, 117 rec., 1,856 yards, 15.9 avg., 25 total TD (1 rushing, 1 punt return)

   

NOTES

— 2020 Heisman Trophy winner

   

OVERALL

DeVonta Smith is a smooth WR who can align on the outside or in the slot, but he does his best work on intermediate and vertical routes. Smith is a very good overall route runner at all three levels and wins with his excellent body control, balance, and route details. He understands the timing of routes and concepts and does an excellent job of keeping CBs off-balance. He also displays his balance and start-stop ability with the ball in his hands, and while he doesn’t make a ton of guys miss laterally, he can quickly accelerate and shows the ability to stop and start quickly to set up blockers or angles down the field.

Smith has as natural hands as any prospect can have—the ball sticks to his hands with zero movement, he is comfortable extending away from his body for throws at all different angles and can adjust and track deep throws over his shoulder. His play strength and ability to extend for throws comes up when he is able to come down with the ball in a crowd, making him a friendly option for QBs. While Smith never had durability issues in college, his rail-thin body type is unprecedented for a prospect, and it looks like his body is maxed out in regards to adding weight to his frame.

Any team betting on him is betting on an outlier, but Smith has the skill set to be said outlier. He has the polish, athleticism and competitiveness to contribute on Day 1 as an outside-WR option who has the upside of being one of the best WRs in the NFL.

   

GRADE: 8.9/10 (Immediate impact NFL starter, 1st round)

OVERALL RANK5/300

POSITION RANK: WR1

PRO COMPARISON: Marvin Harrison

   

Written by B/R NFL Scout Nate Tice

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