NFL Draft 2021: DeVonta Smith, Eagles and not caring about size

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Dave Zangaro
·4 min read
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Were Eagles talking indirectly about DeVonta Smith this week? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

During the Eagles’ pre-draft availability earlier this week, Howie Roseman was asked about a receiver who might be an outlier when it comes to height or weight. The Eagles’ general manager said the Eagles’ won’t “discriminate based on any of those things.”

“Good players come in all shapes and sizes,” Roseman said.

I wonder who we could be talking about …

Because there just happens to be a very talented sub-170-pound receiver who might end up being a very good value fit for the Eagles when they’re on the clock at No. 12 in less than a week.

While DeVonta Smith’s name was never spoken by anyone during the nearly 40-minute press conference on Wednesday, he had to be front of mind for everyone as Roseman answered that question.

After all, there’s just one 166-pound receiver who looks to be a top half of the first round receiver next week and it’s Smith, who is no doubt slight in stature but also immensely talented, having proven himself against top competition on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy this past season.

It’s a tricky situation.

On one hand, perhaps teams are warranted in having some fears about drafting a wide receiver who weighs 166 pounds. There’s probably a reason that no receiver that size has ever been taken in the first half of the first round.

On the other hand, no receiver this small has ever been quite this talented with this impressive of a resume. Smith just won the freaking Heisman, for crying out loud.

This is considered to be a very deep receiver class but after Ja’Marr Chase, who seems to have it all, there are the two Alabama receivers. Smith is under 170 pounds and Jaylen Waddle is under 5-foot-10. But they’re great prospects. In Daniel Jeremiah’s latest top 50, he has Waddle as his fifth-best player overall and Smith as his sixth.

To hammer home the point about the Eagles and their views on sizes for receivers, head coach Nick Sirianni was later asked if the Birds will be looking for prototypical X receivers in this draft. He answered that question by questioning what that thought even means.

“Yeah, I think, again, these guys come in different shapes and sizes,” Sirianni said. “What's an X receiver look like? Well, I've had different Xs. I've had T.Y. Hilton who was 5-9, 180 pounds. He played X for us. I've had Dwayne Bowe who was 6-2, 220 pounds. He played X for us.

“I had Keenan Allen who was 6-3, 200 — all these guys that I'm saying, TY was fast; Keenan was quick, not fast; Dwayne Bowe was powerful. They all played different.

“So it's just a matter of can that guy do what you want, that person to do on the outside. Really when you say X, it's can he win one-on-one match-ups consistently?

"So it's just who can do that. Who can win the one-on-one match-up consistently so the quarterback can take the ball, go one, two, three, four, five, hitch throw, ball's out, everybody is better in front of him because of it. He's better because it's one-on-one out there, and that guy looks different all across the league.”

None of this means the Eagles view Smith or Waddle as an X receiver. None of this means they’re targeting either with their No. 12 pick.

And in the weeks leading up to the draft, you have to look at every answer in a public setting through a lens of skepticism. But if what the Eagles said and intimated on Wednesday is true, that they don’t much care about size prototypes at the receiver position — at least not enough to avoid drafting a player — then Smith and Waddle ought to be on the short list of potential picks. Either would be an exciting pick.

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