Never trade within the division is the old adage in the NFL. Those rules don’t apply to the Philadelphia Eagles. The franchise sent the No. 12 overall pick and a third-rounder to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night in order to move up two spots.
The prize? DeVonta Smith, aka the “Slim Reaper.” He won the Heisman Trophy last year after a record-setting season at the University of Alabama. Smith recorded 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season for the Crimson Tide. He left the storied school as their all-time leader in receiving yards (3,965) and receiving scores (46). He’s on the smaller side — 6-foot-1, 175 pounds — but his “competitive toughness” has drawn comparisons to Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson. Different sports, of course.
Smith was college teammates with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts for two years at Alabama (2017, 2018). The two enjoyed great chemistry together and talked at length throughout the draft process about how much a reunion in Philadelphia would mean to them.
“It would be great (to catch passes from Hurts again),” Smith told CBS Sports. “Jalen is a very talented quarterback and I’d love to play with him. He is a competitor and going to give you a chance to win every game.”
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Eagles Trade Cowboys to Move Up in First Round
The Eagles had been heavily linked to Smith in recent weeks thanks in large part to their recent whiffs at the wide receiver position. The Alabama standout was largely rated as the third-best pass-catcher in the 2021 draft and the board played out that way after Ja’Marr Chase went No. 5 to the Cincinnati Bengals, followed by Jaylen Waddle going No. 6 to the Miami Dolphins.
However, there was plenty of drama for Eagles fans to behold on draft night in Cleveland. Philadelphia was thought to be high on two stud cornerbacks — South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II — but those players went in consecutive picks at No. 8 and No. 9.
That forced the Eagles to trade up in the first round to make sure they got Smith at No. 10. Unfortunately, the price was fairly high as they surrendered the No. 12 pick, plus a third-rounder (No. 80), to the Dallas Cowboys. The reason? Philadelphia feared the New York Giants were going to take Smith at No. 11.
“You want to make sure that you understand what they’re looking for and what you’re willing to do,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told reporters before the draft. “We’ll talk to teams in front of us. We’ll talk to every team in the league. We’ll talk to teams in back of us. We’ll figure out what they’d be willing to do if their guy is there.”
Smith’s Ex-Teammate Defend Explosive WR
Smith’s former teammates at Alabama don’t want to hear the knocks on his size or strength. He’s in the weight room every day and prides himself on doing 100 push-ups per day, according to GQ Magazine. He didn’t miss a game at Alabama en route to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2020. Smith made 12 catches for 215 yards and three scores in last year’s national championship game — that was in the first half alone. He’s got both the durability and clutch gene.
“All the bulls*** they saying about his weight? It does not matter, bruh,” Alabama running back Najee Harris told Tyler R. Tynes. “He’s lined up against everybody, all the top dudes, and is exposing them. The best defensive backs out there. He’s one of the hardest players I’ve ever played with.”