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Eagles explain trade up for DeVonta Smith and why they aren’t worried about his size

Nick Sirianni says the Heisman winner catches the ball “exceptionally well”.

The Eagles traded up to the No. 10 overall spot to nab wide receiver DeVonta Smith on Thursday, which already seems like a smart move with the Giants immediately turning around and trading away No. 11 to the Bears. (Ruining a division opponent’s night is always enjoyable.)

Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni, and Andy Weidl spoke with reporters shortly afterward about why they made the move, why they’re excited about Smith and his talent joining the roster, and what this means for the rest of the draft weekend.

Here’s what they had to say:

Roseman opened by saying that they are really excited to get DeVonta Smith and he was really highly rated on the Eagles’ board. He’s someone that is a great player and a great person, and they spoke before about getting guys that would help build the culture they want, and Smith is someone to do that.

On making the trade

Howie noted that with 11 picks this year, they had some flexibility and felt comfortable trading up to get their guy. The GM admitted that they expected a lot more QBs to go ahead of them when they traded back to No. 12, so as the first round went on, Smith was standing out on their board, and they didn’t want to miss out on him. Howie lauded the incoming rookie as a guy who can help on and off the field.

Later, Howie was asked about making a deal with a division opponent, but he explained that they’ve done it before and have respect for the competition among teams. The more you trade up in a round the more you have to give up, and when trading within the division, it has to be something that works for them, too. He simply said that both the Eagles and Cowboys made a move that was best for their teams.

On Smith’s attributes and potential

Weidl talked about what they saw in Smith during the scouting process, and he was quick to point out that the WR is a smooth mover, can open up and run, and can win at all three levels and alignments. Smith’s ability to adjust to the football and make contested catches also stood out, and his selflessness is something they really liked. Weidl pointed to Smith stepping in as a punt returner, being a gunner for the punt team, and just a guy who would go above and beyond for his team.

Sirianni went on to talk about how they saw a guy who can consistently win one-on-one with speed and quickness at both the top of the route and at the line of scrimmage. The head coach noted that when you have a guy like that in your offense, it makes everyone around him better.

Sirianni did, however, emphasize that he doesn’t believe in putting a receiver in one specific spot, and will require all the wideouts learn all positions — Smith was able to explain different parts of Alabama’s offense in a lot of detail during their Zoom meeting. He also noted that they throw a lot of crossing routes in their offense and Smith has a lot to offer in that area.

The head coach joked that the major requirement for the receiver position is that they catch the football, and Smith, “does that exceptionally well”.

On Smith’s size

When asked about Smith’s size and the history of sub-70lb receivers in the NFL, none of the Eagles brass seemed to have concerns. All three pointed to Smith playing with toughness, and always being willing to step up when his team needed him. Weidl and Roseman also touched on Smith being clutch in big moments, including the game-winning touchdown for the National Championship his freshman year at Alabama.

Sirianni said Smith “sure as heck” doesn’t play like a small receiver and emphasized again his quickness off the line of scrimmage and ability to create separation.

“Play strength and toughness is what I see with DeVonta over, and over, and over again.”

Other notables

  • When asked about drafting WRs in the first round two years in a row, Howie confirmed that the team’s drafting philosophy and focus hasn’t changed. He noted that they stuck to their board with the Smith pick, and didn’t want to pass on the player to fill a specific need. Howie admitted that they’ve made mistakes in the past reaching for positions, and with so many picks this year and next, they don’t want to force anything.
  • Howie didn’t get into what kind of input Jalen Hurts had into this pick, but the GM noted that quarterbacks love throwing to Smith and that means something.

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