It’s all a guessing a game at this point, from mock drafts to scouting reports to reading between the lines on what front-office executives say to the press. For those paying attention, the Philadelphia Eagles’ plan is coming into focus.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, seated alongside head coach Nick Sirianni and vice-president of player personnel Andy Weidl, gave a lengthy press conference earlier this week where they talked about their draft process. In it, Roseman was asked specifically about the wide receiver position and if he might discriminate based on height, weight or speed.
Roseman replied: “I think the first part is good players come in all shapes and sizes, and so we’re not going to discriminate based on any of those things.”
The question was in reference to under-sized Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith who checked in at 6-foot-0.2 and 166 pounds (via Albert Breer), down from the original 170-pound estimate the Heisman Trophy winner gave on March 22. He’s been dropping down draft boards because of it.
Smith has earned the nickname the “Slim Reaper” for his explosive play on the field. He made 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in 13 games last season at Alabama. He left as the Crimson Tide’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,965) and receiving touchdowns (46). Impressive when you remember the other receivers who attended that school: Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Calvin Ridley, Ozzie Newsome.
“I would first off have to say that I think his performance speaks for itself,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, via Bama Central. “There are bigger people who don’t perform anywhere near how he performs. There are people that are bigger than him that don’t have the competitive spirit that he has nor the competitive toughness.”
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Nick Sirianni Evaluates Receiver Position
Sirianni had a hilarious exchange with reporters when talking about the wide receiver position. He slammed his hand on the table while describing guys catching balls in traffic and getting physical with defensive backs, causing the Zoom camera to shake for a minute. The overzealous coach apologized for his outburst.
“I’m sorry, but I’m excited,” Sirianni said. “We’re talking about wide outs.”
Sirianni made his bones as a skilled wide receivers coach dating back to his days at Indiana University of Pennsylvania so if anyone knows the position and can get the most out of the position, it’s him. He’s been keeping tabs on all the young pass-catchers in this draft, including Smith.
“To me, it’s about how you’re going to get these guys the football early on,” Sirianni said, “and do they have the skill sets of things that you can feed them early on. And some of those things are like slants and jet sweeps and screens and stuff like that.
“Do they have the skill set that allows them to get easy touches? Does he have that shake with the ball in his hands? Because you might not ever see him with a guy right up in his face. Does he have that strength when the ball is in the air to go pluck it out of the air?”
Will Smith Be There at Pick No. 12?
The other question to consider in all this is will Smith even be on the board when the Eagles pick at No. 12? Mock drafts all over the place on the answer to that. CBS Sports had Smith going to Philly there in the first round, one spot after his Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Todd McShay recently put Waddle in midnight green in his latest mock draft.
Basically, no one knows anything and that’s not a bad thing this time of year. The Eagles know they cannot miss on this pick no matter which direction — offense or defense — the franchise ultimately decides to go in.
“We’ve got to have talented players because those are the guys that go out and they make plays when the game is on the line,” Sirianni said. “They make the plays in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, talent.”