DeVonta Smith was the best wide receiver in college football last season, winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Alabama to another national championship. He is now fighting for the right to be the best wide receiver selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Smith dominated the competition in 2020, with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 TDs in 13 games. The only concern about how high he should go in the first round on April 29 is the fact that he weighs 170 pounds at 6-1, or what is considered to be about 20 pounds less than the NFL ideal.
But that seems to be an unfair criticism of a receiver who otherwise has no holes in his game. Smith is a confident and hardworking receiver who can run all routes with precision, is also capable of stretching the field and making plays after the catch in the open field. It may not be a pure blazer, but its speed and quickness of play translate into continuing to produce big plays in the NFL.
Smith isn’t sure he’ll get ahead of LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and / or former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, but being in the top three in that group still makes him an elite wide receiver prospect worthy of being among. top 10 overall. Here’s a breakdown of Smith’s best draft settings:
MOST NFL DRAFT: SN’s Latest 2021 Mock Draft | Top 50 big board
2021 DeVonta Smith Simulated Draft
1. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 6)
The Eagles drafted Jalen Reagor in the first round in 2020, but he’s better suited to be the deep threat receiver “Z” for second-year starting QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts and Smith have the old-school chemistry of their time together in Alabama. Smith fits the profile as a full “X” guy, with Greg Ward being a solid “Y” for the groove. With tight end Zach Ertz on the trade block, there’s a good chance the Eagles will use more staff of 11 (three sets of wide receivers), following what offensive-minded new coach Nick Sirianni did with Frank’s Colts. Reich.
Philadelphia needs a reliable No. 1 who can line up everywhere and produce for Hurts, from early home runs to third-down chain movement routes. If Smith were the best player available, it would be hard not to accept him.
2. Detroit Lions (No. 7)
The Lions have gone from Kenny Golladay (Giants) and Marvin Jones Jr. (Jaguars) giving them one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL to a post-free agency combination of Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams and Geronimo Allison. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn needs a similar goal to Cooper Kupp / Robert Woods to help new starting quarterback Jared Goff. Detroit should be desperate for the best wide receiver available from Chase, Smith and Waddle.
Waddle would be more than good consolation, but Smith is a better fit due to his better technical skills and more natural run. He’s the type of wide receiver who can open up quickly for Goff on short to intermediate passes that are a big part of his game. It would be a nice complement to the receiving skills of running back D’Andre Swift and tight end TJ Hockenson.
3. Indianapolis Colts (No. 21)
Speaking of Sirianni and Reich, the Colts could also use a number one receiver for former Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz. TY Hilton will not re-sign and while there is some promise between Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell, none of them is a true No. 1, with Pittman made to be a great job, Pascal a No. 2 man. possession and Campbell an occasional threat on a big play on his return from injury.
Smith’s versatility would be key to putting the other receivers in position to win. It can also be more reliable than all of them for Wentz in critical situations. The Colts would have to be aggressive and trade multiple places to get it, but as an AFC contender, a game changer like Smith may pay off for Reich.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5 overall)
The Bengals have sophomore second-round great Tee Higgins poised for a steady role outside of Joe Burrow and they feature Tyler Boyd as the slot ace, but there’s a void for a No. 1 classic after AJ Green ( Cardinals) was not re-elected. signed.
Cincinnati may need to think about pass protection first, but if it feels good enough with the tackle combination of Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff, it should think of an additional key weapon for Burrow, be it Smith, Chase or the wing. Florida Kyle Pitts closed.
5. Miami Dolphins (No. 3 or No. 18 overall)
The Dolphins will first have to decide whether to become wide receivers early against Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Former Texan Will Fuller’s signing to side with DeVante Parker doesn’t take them out of the picture because they can’t fully count on a healthy Preston Williams. So if they open up, Chase, with a more natural punch than Smith, could be the lean one, but then again, there’s also great appeal to reuniting Smith with Tagovailoa as a family target.
If the Dolphins go to Sewell at No. 3, they can still get Smith, if he falls slightly behind Chase and Waddle, with an aggressive move of his own later in the first round.
6. New England Patriots (No. 15 overall)
The Patriots should be on the lookout for a wide receiver drop to catch after his heavy tight end investment (Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith) in free agency. If the right quarterback or the best defensive player available goes down, they’d be fine with that. But they should be ready to take Smith or Waddle if one slips, either staying or trading 3-4 picks. Smith would clean up his mess as a wide receiver and be the No. 1 needed for Cam Newton. Any player from Saban Alabama who fills a. Patriots must be considered fit in any draft.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.