DeVonta Smith's Fantasy Outlook After Eagles Select WR in 2021 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) gains yardage after a catch in the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles got an exciting new playmaker on Thursday when they drafted Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith with the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL draft. 

Now, the question is what type of fantasy football impact the 22-year-old will have in his rookie season. 

Obviously, Smith will be an intriguing option for fantasy players in dynasty or keeper leagues. In redraft leagues, though, rookie wideouts are a mixed bag.

It's a difficult transition from college passing games to the NFL for wideouts, and Justin Jefferson-esque rookie campaigns (88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns) are extraordinarily rare. 

The Minnesota Vikings star set the rookie record for receiving yards, after all. 

Smith is arguably the most pro-ready wideout in this class, though, after two straight seasons with over 1,200 receiving yards for the Crimson Tide. His senior season (117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 scores) was one of the best from a college wideout in the history of the sport and led to a slew of awards, including the Heisman Trophy. 

In late March, the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah had him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the 2021 NFL draft, calling him a "rail-thin wideout with long arms, excellent play speed and outstanding hands" and a "silky-smooth route runner who accelerates into and out of the break point, which creates an unusual amount of separation against quality competition."

Charley Casserly @CharleyCasserly

DeVonta Smith WR ⁦@AlabamaFTBL⁩ has excellent deep speed & separation on his routes. His size of 5-10 170 is comparable to that of HOF WR Marvin Harrison of 5-10 175 coming out of college. The video highlights his excellent hands ⁦@NFLDraft⁩ ⁦@nflnetwork⁩ https://t.co/MtxmxhrDbK

Field Yates @FieldYates

DeVonta Smith: elite route running, acceleration, catch radius. Ja'Marr Chase: physically, body control, run after catch. And both offer so much more. Full 🎥 breakdown on these two ⭐️ https://t.co/qwqoen9k9e

He added: "People inside the Alabama program rave about his character, work ethic and professionalism. Smith should emerge as a high-volume weapon as soon as his cleats hit an NFL field."

And PFF's Mike Renner called Smith the "best route-runner" in the Class of 2021, noting that the "nuance and polish in his route-running is unlike anything we have seen from any receiver prospect we've graded."

You never want to draft a rookie receiver under the assumption they'll be a WR1 like Jefferson was last year. It's just very rare. But if there was one player who is a safe bet to have a very productive first season in the NFL, it's Smith. 

Another benefit is that Smith will instantly be Philly's best wideout. Yes, the Eagles have talented tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert who will soak up targets, along with running back Miles Sanders. And yes, there are questions about Jalen Hurts at quarterback and whether he has the ability to be a true franchise option. 

Add in a brand new coaching staff, and there's a lot of turnover in Philly. But Smith, again, will instantly be this team's No. 1 option in the passing game. He has very real WR3 upside, and his floor probably will be in the WR4 range.