2024 NFL Draft

Eagles add wide receiver Ainias Smith in 5th round

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With their 5th-round pick Saturday, the Eagles selected Texas A&M wide receiver / running back / returner Ainias Smith, a 5-foot-9, 190-pounder who said he models himself after DeSean Jackson.

He’s the first receiver they’ve drafted since 2021, when they took DeVonta Smith in the first round.

Smith spent five years at A&M and caught 180 passes for 2,047 yards and 19 touchdowns. After missing most of 2022 with a broken leg, he caught 53 passes for 795 yards with two TDs and a 15.0 per-catch average this past year.

He also had 72 rushing attempts for 405 yards with a 5.6 rushing average and four touchdowns and averaged 10.2 yards on 82 punt returns with two TDs and 18.0 yards on 20 kick returns.

He’s the only player in SEC history with 2,000 receiving yards, 250 rushing yards, 250 kick return yards and 250 punt return yards in his career.

“You can look at the Desean Jacksons and Deebo Samuels of the world, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffery, people like that that can play multiple positions, are very versatile, very good with the ball in their hands,” he said at the Combine. “And that’s how I look at myself for sure.”

Smith said he’s a big fan of the Eagles’s offense and DeVonta Smith in particular.

“I love the way Philly plays,” he said. “I know they got Devonta Smith who I don’t really know, but I was a really big fan of in college and whatnot and also the way they just use the receivers, the running backs, it’s a really great scheme.”

The Eagles don’t have a clear-cut No. 3 wide receiver behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, who have both received massive contract extensions this month. 

After trying Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheus and Julio Jones last year, they signed veterans Parris Campbell and DeVante Parker as free agents, and Smith will have an opportunity to compete with them for that key third wide out spot.

Smith is generally considered a slot but he believes he can play inside or outside at the next level.

“I feel real confident,” he said. “I went out there a few times this past season, made a lot of plays. I feel like a lot of my production this year came from the outside so I feel real confident.

Despite spending five years in College Station, Smith is only 22.

The Eagles’ recent history with late-round wide receivers is not a great one. Although 1971 7th-round pick Harold Carmichael became a Hall of Famer, their most successful receivers in the fifth round or later since then have been 1990 5th-round pick Calvin Williams (3,925 yards in seven seasons), 5th-round pick Riley Cooper (2,711 yards in six years) and Watkins (1,249 yards in four years). Brandon Gibson, a 6th-round pick in 2009, never played for the Eagles but had nearly 3,000 yards in six years with the Rams and Dolphins.

Smith is the first player the Eagles have taken from A&M since defensive tackle Ed Jasper in the sixth round in 1997. The best player they’ve ever taken from A&M is linebacker William Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowler.

Smith’s brother Maurice, who played at both Alabama and Georgia, was a defensive back who spent three years in the NFL with the Dolphins and Washington from 2017 through 2019. 

Pick No. 152 originated with the Seahawks, who traded it to the Commanders as part of the deal that sent quarterback Sam Howell from Washington to Seattle in March. The Eagles acquired from the Commanders on Friday along with the 40th overall pick, which they used to select Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean.

So far, the Eagles have taken cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell (22nd overall) in the first round and Cooper DeJean (40th overall) in the second round, edge Jalyx Hunt (94th overall) in the third round, running back Will Shipley (127th overall) in the fourth round and Smith (152nd overall) and Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter (155th overall) in the fifth round.

They currently have two picks remaining – No. 171 and No. 172 in the fifth round.

Previous selections:

No. 22 overall - CB Quinyon Mitchell
No. 40 overall - CB Cooper DeJean
No. 94 overall - Edge Jalyx Hunt
No. 127 overall - RB Will Shipley

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