May 07, 2021
Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith has spent the past week answering a whirlwind of questions about the NFL Draft process, his new home, his size and his expectations for the upcoming season.
One of the most intriguing what-ifs of last week's draft is considering a scenario in which the Eagles don't trade up to No. 10 and select Smith one spot ahead of the New York Giants.
Smith appeared Friday on the Green Light podcast with former Eagles defensive end Chris Long. He was asked about his experience on draft night and where he thought he was going to land. (The interview with Smith starts around the 28:19 mark).
"I thought Carolina (pick No. 8) was going to probably draft me. That's who I thought," Smith said. "I knew, of course, the Giants. But it was just all about, 'you got to get to 11.' I knew for sure that if I was there at 11, I was going to go the the Giants."
When the Eagles traded up, Smith said he knew it must have meant the team saw a lot of potential in him, and he plans to do whatever he can to make Philadelphia's decision look wise.
"That's the type of place you want to play when you love football," Smith said. "The fans are all into it. It's a place where they're diehard. They love football. When you love football and the fans love football, that's just a place you want to be."
Smith spoke in-depth with Long about his experience at the University of Alabama and what it was like to play alongside top-tier wide receivers like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle. As much as they supported each other, the level of competition among them also was fierce. Playing up to that competition in practice is the trait that made him a Heisman Trophy winner.
"That's been my whole life. I've always been the type of person to go out there and grind everything out," Smith said. "But I mean, I truly believe the stuff you do in practice is going to translate in the game. I go into practice every day just trying to be the hardest-working person on the team."
Asked again about the persistent concerns regarding his slight frame, Smith explained that he's had a lot of success against press coverage because he devotes a lot of time to film study. That's how he believes he's been able to win battles against the top cornerbacks in college football.
"Outstudying your opponent," Smith said. "You have to know what type of corner you're going against. Are you against a corner that likes to get hands-on or a corner who likes to be patient? You really have to know who you're going against, when you watch film, just seeing what they're uncomfortable with, and once you find what they'e uncomfortable with, you just keep them uncomfortable."
In the pros, Smith said he's most looking forward to playing against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
"I feel like he's one of the top corners in the league, so that's most definitely that matchup that I'm looking forward to — just somebody you've been seeing on TV for a while," Smith said.
The rookie said that he's aware one of his nicknames — "The Slim Reaper" — has also been used for NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
"I've been trying to get in touch with him about it, but I haven't heard back from him," Smith said.
Throughout his NFL career, Smith will likely be evaluated as an Eagle relative to the performance of the Giants and their wide receivers, including rookie Kadarius Toney. The Giants haven't come right out and said they would have chosen Smith — ESPN reports the team was "livid" after the Eagles swooped in — but it's doubtful Smith would make such a bold claim unless he had every indication from New York that they would select him if given the chance.