Welcome to Philadelphia DeVonta Smith! In a wild first-round sequence the Eagles traded up with the Dallas Cowboys, selected an Alabama player for the first time since 2002, the Giants traded down for the first time in 15 years, and the Bears actually made a good QB move. Maybe Kyle Shanahan was right, maybe the world will end before Sunday.
For live reactions to the Eagles pick and to the entire 1st round you can check out our live stream from the first round, and be sure to join us tonight for more draft talk. After sleeping on it, I’m back today to break down the Eagles 1st round selection and what it means for the rest of the draft. I will also talk about who I would have selected, what to expect on day 2 of the draft and talk about what the other NFC East teams did.
DeVonta Smith made college football history in 2020, becoming the first WR to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991. In an Alabama offense loaded with NFL talent, Smith was rarely seen as the #1 option for the Crimson Tide. Despite this, he outproduced fellow teammates (and 1st round picks) Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle. He finishes his career at Alabama with a 117 reception season where he racked up 1,856 yards, 23 TDs, and broke the record for most 200+ yard receiving performances in team history. He also holds the SEC records for single-season receiving yards and touchdowns.
Smith is the top route runner in the class and is incredibly fluid out of his breaks and at the top of route stems. He is also the best in class at getting off press coverage, which is surprising given his small frame. He wins with technical proficiency and elite acceleration and is excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch. In 2020 Smith had more yards after the catch than any other player and it wasn’t particularly close (847 for Smith, 201 more than the next closest player). He also possesses great hands, recording only 6 drops in 291 career targets.
Smith is the unquestioned WR1 in Philadelphia and will likely take reps as the X receiver.
Though he isn’t a prototypical X, his ability to get off press coverage makes him the type of receiver you want to put on the line. When Jaylen Waddle was healthy in 2020, Alabama manufactured touches for him while allowing Smith to run a full route tree on the outside, an indication that they trusted his route running ability more. When Waddle went down, they began using Smith for some of those manufactured touches, showing their faith in his ability to make explosive plays happen with the ball in his hands. The Eagles will likely manufacture touches for Jalen Reagor to help mitigate his route running deficiencies while utilizing Smith more on the outside.
You have to love the irony of the Eagles intentionally losing a week 17 game that kept the Giants out of the playoffs and then trading up in front of them to take the player they wanted. The initial trade down from 6 to 12 netted the Eagles a 2022 1st round pick while also swapping a 5th rounder this year for a 4th rounder. The move back up from 12 to 10 cost a 3rd this year (ironically the pick the Eagles acquired for Carson Wentz.) While there is certainly irony in the Eagles using the pick they got for Wentz to give his replacement a weapon that they failed to get for Wentz, the overall trade value for the Eagles was great. They essentially turned a 3rd and 5th round pick this season into a 4th round pick and future 1st and still got the player they wanted.
I have been very critical of Howie Roseman over the last few years, but everything fell his way last night:
- He traded down from 6 to 12 under the correct assumption that both Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase would be off the board
- He moved back up from 12 to 10 under the correct assumption that the Giants would take DeVonta Smith
Overall it was a great first night from Howie Roseman.
I’m giving the Eagles an A- for the selection of DeVonta Smith. He was the #3 WR on my board and the highest rated WR/CB prospect left when the Eagles selected. You could make an argument that the pick should have been Rashawn Slater or Justin Fields, but it is hard to be disappointed about anything that transpired on night 1.
Who I Would Have Picked
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
For reasons I enumerated here, I would have heavily considered taking a QB in the draft. Justin Fields was my QB2 in the draft and I believe him to be closer to Trevor Lawrence as a prospect than any other QB in the draft is to Fields. Given the chance to not only draft a franchise QB but to do so while trading down and getting an additional 1st round pick instead of giving up 3 1st rounders as the 49ers did would be a tremendous value.
Maybe the bet on Jalen Hurts pays off and the Eagles have 3 first-rounders to spend next year. Or maybe it doesn’t, and they have to package multiple first-rounders to move up and grab another QB. There is no way to know for sure how it plays out, but the opportunity cost of acquiring a QB is often very high, so trading down and still getting one would have been a great value selection.
What to Expect on Day 2
The Eagles entered the draft with 3 glaring needs: WR, DB, and LB. With the number of young receivers on the roster already and the first-round pick spent on DeVonta Smith, the Eagles are almost certainly done at WR in the draft. I would expect the Eagles to spend both day 2 picks on the defensive side of the ball, although an offensive lineman or a tight end could be in play and there is an outside chance that they will look at a running mate for Miles Sanders.
Day 2 could also see a trade of Zach Ertz. Ertz is not long for Philadelphia and could be used as a piece to move up in day 2 or be traded for a day 3 pick.
Here are my top players on the board for the Eagles at 37:
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
JOK is a highly versatile defender who brings a lot of value to a team that wants to stay in base formations against various offensive personnel groups. He can play WILL linebacker in a 4-3 but is also capable of being a box safety type player and can even play man coverage on slot receivers. He has tremendous range as a tackler and is a highly instinctual player with good coverage reps all over his tape. For a team that loved what Malcolm Jenkins brought to the table, JOK is a great fit that can help cover 2 positions of need.
S Trevon Moehrig
Moehrig is the unquestioned top safety in a class that has a huge drop off after him. The Eagles lost Jalen Mills to free agency and have Rodney McLeod coming back from yet another serious injury. Moehrig is an instinctual player who ran the TCU defense from the single high position. He has great range and is a dynamic playmaker on the back end of the defense. Although his versatility and range wouldn’t be used to it’s fullest potential in a split field safety scheme, Moehrig makes a lot of sense for the Eagles and would be a day 1 starter.
CB Asante Samuel Jr.
This is currently the Eagles CB2. Let’s end tonight with that statement no longer true. https://t.co/7Qo2RsocHv— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) April 29, 2021
Cornerback is a HUGE need for the Eagles. Samuel is a little undersized at 5’10”, but he is extremely competitive as a run defender and tackler and projects as a capable outside corner. He was primarily used in man defense in college and would have to grow as a zone defender unless the Eagles decide to go with a more man-heavy scheme. His biggest weakness in man coverage was a lack of instincts with his back to the line of scrimmage, something that playing cover 2 flat zones would help mitigate.
OT Teven Jenkins
Tevin Jenkins was a round 1 grade for me and I’m fairly surprised he fell out of the 1st round. He started 35 games at Oklahoma State and has experience at LT, RT, and RG. He is very athletic, with a Raw Athleticism Score of 9.74. He has a mean streak that you like to see from offensive linemen and displays the positional versatility that the Eagles value in offensive linemen. He could plug in immediately at LT for the Eagles and could move around the line as injury dictated.
iOL Creed Humphrey
Humphrey is an ultra-athletic iOL prospect who was a 3-year starter for Oklahoma. His Raw Athleticism Score of 10.0 makes him the most athletic iOL prospect in the history of the NFL draft. His football intelligence shows up on tape as does his background in wrestling. His hand technique is top-notch and he is accustomed to moving in space as Oklahoma often tasked him with pulling to the edge on power running plays. The Eagles have long had one of the most athletic and intelligent centers in the NFL in Jason Kelce. As his career winds down, they would be wise to add another player in his mold to be an understudy. In the meantime, Humphrey would provide needed depth to the RG position where Brandon Brooks can’t seem to stay healthy.
iDL Christian Barmore
Could the Eagles really go with back-to-back Alabama players? It is certainly possible. With Fletcher Cox now on the wrong side of 30, the Eagles could look to draft his long-term replacement. The team historically likes to invest in the iDL and there is a huge drop off at the position after Barmore, who was considered by many to be a potential late 1st round pick.
Eye on the Enemy
The Eagles weren’t the only team making draft picks on Thursday. Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the division.
The Cowboys saw cornerbacks fall off of the board right before their pick at 10 (you really hate to see it don’t you?) and so they elected to trade down from 10 to 12 with the Eagles in exchange for pick 84. They then selected LB Micah Parsons. The Cowboys highly value the linebacker position, as evidenced by spending 34 overall on Jaylon Smith in 2016, 18 overall on Leighton Vander Esch in 2018, and 12 overall on Micah Parsons this season. With Sean Lee’s retirement, the regression of Smith, and the injury bug that has bitten LVE, the Parsons pick makes sense for the Cowboys. Sort of. Much like the Eagles have attempted to fix their secondary by throwing more and more resources at the defensive line, the Cowboys continue to try to fix a woeful secondary with linebackers and that is an approach that is destined to fail.
New York Giants
After the Eagles jumped the Giants for the player they wanted all along, they traded back from 11 to 20 in exchange for a 5th round pick this year and a future 1st and 4th. They used pick 20 to take WR Kadarius Toney, despite signing Kenny Golladay to a massive contract in free agency. They already had Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepard in the fold and also signed John Ross in the offseason.
The most glaring needs for the Giants, setting QB to the side, are EDGE/LB and offensive line. There were players at all of those positions that would have been better value than Toney on the board at 20. But all of that aside, the Giants should have stood at 11 overall and taken Justin Fields. Daniel Jones is not the answer and Fields would have been a gift from the football gods.
Washington Football Team
The Football team selected LB Jamin Davis at 19 overall. Davis is an athletic freak who has a lot of upside but is a very raw player, after only starting 11 games at the collegiate level. If he can put it all together he could be a really good player but there will be a lot of development needed. The Football Team has now spent 4 of their last 5 1st round picks on front 7 players for their defense. After being a QB away from being a truly scary team last season, they seem content to sign a 38-year-old veteran QB who has started 8+ games only once in the last 4 seasons. They should have gladly matched or beaten the Bears’ offer to trade up and get their QB of the future.
At long last, I think it is time to land this plane. As much excitement as night 1 of the draft continued, there are still 2 nights to go and The Painted Lines will be there covering it all, including tonight’s watch party, breaking down rounds 2 and 3. So be sure you are following us on Twitch or Youtube and we will see you in the chat tonight!