Things just “kind of happened” was how DeVonta Smith described the trade that landed him in Philadelphia. And away from the evil clutches of their hated rivals right up the New Jersey Turnpike.
Smith has heard all about the bitter rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. But the No. 10 overall pick had no control over where he went in the first round, let alone to which team. When the Eagles made a back-room deal with the Dallas Cowboys to leap-frog the Giants at No. 11, it was like a nuclear explosion went off in Times Square. New York was heated that Philadelphia took the player they wanted in the first round. It was Smith’s first taste of the NFC East.
“I mean with the draft you never know what to expect. You never know who’s going to trade up, trade down, so I mean things just kind of happened,” Smith told reporters. “From what I’ve heard and the things that I’ve seen, I’ve seen that the [Giants-Eagles] rivalry is pretty big just from that moment. But I mean, like, I didn’t know what to expect, it’s the draft. Anything can really happen.”
Smith was one of nine Eagles rookies to address the media on Wednesday prior to the start of rookie minicamps this weekend (May 14-16). The former Alabama star hasn’t had time to meet his new teammates or chat with the coaching staff, although he did admit to peaking at the playbook while sitting at home.
“I kind of dug into it a little bit myself,” Smith said. “I mean, I’m still learning right now. I’m still trying to get the grasp of things.”
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Smith Excited to Catch Passes From Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts enjoyed great chemistry during their brief time together at Alabama. More importantly, they became fast friends off the field. Hurts, sporting a Jordan & Pippen T-shirt, was one of the first guys to greet Smith when he reported to the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. Reunited and it feels so good.
“We always talked about the possibility of us getting back together, being teammates again, and that’s great that it happened,” Smith said. “We spoke it into existence and it happened and we’re excited.”
But Smith made it clear that whatever they did in college is in the rear-view mirror. They haven’t shared a football field since 2018. Much has changed since Nick Saban shaped them in his image.
“We have to build from that,” Smith said. “Whatever we did in college has nothing to do with now because things have changed over time.”
Yes, Smith did rank himself and Hurts as the best young quarterback-receiver duo in football. Don’t confuse that confidence for cockiness.
“I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to say. You’re supposed to feel confident about that,” Smith said. “It’s just being confident. I believe me and Jalen, we’ll continue the connection that we had, but I mean that’s just the confidence in it. If you’re not confident in what you’re doing, then I mean you’re in the wrong business.”
Smith Says ‘Get Open and Catch the Ball’
One of the best traits Smith is bringing to the NFL is his ability to run polished routes. His “quick-twitch” makes him a nightmare for opposing defensive backs, releasing off press coverage effortlessly and using his underrated speed to change direction. Smith can fake inside and then turn it deep on a dime.
“As a receiver, your job is to get open and catch the ball so I mean the way you get open is by running good routes,” Smith said. “Good technique and things like that, catching the ball is catching the ball, that’s your main job as a receiver.
“That’s something you have to take pride in — getting open, running routes the right way, releasing off press coverage and things like that, so you have to take pride in that and that’s what I do.”