It’s been awhile since the Philadelphia Eagles have had a rookie who’s been as impactful as DeVonta Smith has in 2021 — let alone at the wide receiver position.
The Heisman winner finished his rookie campaign breaking DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie receiving record, tallying 64 receptions for 916 yards and five touchdowns. “But he had an extra game, so breaking Jackson’s record is irrelevant!” Read it and weep, nerds:
Smith broke DJaxx’s record while seeing 14 less targets and blocking on 40% of his offensive snaps. The extra game means nothing in this context — if Smith played in an Andy Reid offense, he would’ve broken the record weeks ago.
For his efforts, Smith was recognized by Pro Football Focus as one of the best rookies in the NFL this season, cracking their top-25 rookies list. While Smith wasn’t heralded as an elite deep threat entering the NFL, his deep route running ability has been one of his most valuable assets this season. Per PFF, Smith had the sixth-highest average depth of target (15.2) in the NFL this year. He also posted the fifth-most receptions at least 20 yards down the field at 12.
PFF also points out Smith’s elite route running ability of hitch routes, stating that his receiving grade and 298 yards receiving on such routes are both top-three in the league.
Smith is easily the best wide receiver the Eagles have had in a very long time. He finished the year as the 25th-best wideout in the NFL per PFF, earning an overall grade of 77.2.
The future is bright for this young man. Hopefully, he can continue his remarkable rookie season in the Eagles playoff matchup against Tampa Bay on Sunday.