DeVonta Smith is three years into his NFL career and he’s been everything as advertised.
But he still thinks there’s another level to take his game.
“I would say, yeah,” Smith said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Friday. “You’ve seen it at times. But I mean, that just comes down to getting the ball in space. That’s all it is.”
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The Eagles used the No. 10 overall pick back in 2021 to select Smith coming off his Heisman Trophy season. As a rookie, he was the No. 1 receiver in the Eagles’ offense and caught 64 passes for 916 yards. But he’s been even better the last two years since the addition of A.J. Brown, going for over 1,000 yards in 2022 and 2023.
How does Smith hit that level?
“I would say just continue to be on the same page as the quarterback,” he answered. “Having the timing down pat, just being able to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re able to speak the same language.”
Smith has known Jalen Hurts since their time together back at Alabama and Hurts has been the starting quarterback for the first three seasons of his NFL career.
But Smith said there’s always work to do between a quarterback and a receiver no longer how long they’ve been playing together.
“You’re never where you want to be,” Smith said. “There’s always room for improvement. We definitely can get better in that, always.”
Smith’s best season came in 2022 when he had 1,196 yards and what really stood out was his yards after catch. He averaged 5.2 yards after catch per reception in 2022 but that was down to 3.6 YAC/R in 2023. That was likely just a product of an offense that Nick Sirianni admitted got “stale” during the season.
The Eagles’ solution to inject some fresh ideas into the offense going into 2024 was to make a significant coaching staff switch. They fired offensive coordinator Brian Johnson after one season and replaced him with former Cowboys and Chargers OC Kellen Moore.
Smith doesn’t know much about Moore but doesn’t seem too concerned about learning a new offense. Football is football, he said.
As for the return of head coach Nick Sirianni, Smith is excited. He said he and the Eagles’ head coach have a very good relationship.
“I think Nick’s a great coach,” Smith said. “He does a lot of situational things that people don’t quite see and don’t quite understand that has this team in a good place. A lot of situational things that I think he does very well that has guys in the right situations.
Moore, meanwhile, will take over an offense that underperformed in 2023 but he’ll have plenty of tools, including Smith and Brown, who form one of the best receiver duos in the NFL.
Smith’s advice to get the most out of that duo: “Just let us do what we do.”
Over the last two seasons, Smith and Brown have become very close on and off the field and there aren’t very many people who know and understand Brown like Smith inside the Eagles locker room.
For whatever reason, Brown has seemingly been a misunderstood player in public during his time as an Eagle. So I asked Smith — who was promoting the VRST apparel line, available at Dick’s Sporting Goods — for one thing that people should know about Brown that they might not.
“I think one thing that people should consider about everybody is that everybody is not the same,” said Smith. “You’re going to have guys that’s jolly with the media and you’re going to have some guys that kind of step back and be themselves. I mean, everybody expects everybody to be jolly with the media and that’s not the case.
“Some people are just how they are. Very quiet and to themselves. That’s just how they are. That’s kind of how he is. He’s just to himself. Kind of keeps things to his self and the media, they just have to accept that and understand.”
Over the past two years, there are just three pairs of receivers to each go over 1,000 receiving yards: Brown and Smith, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in Miami and Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa.
The goal should be for the Eagles to keep Smith and Brown together for as long as possible. Brown has three more seasons remaining on the four-year, $100 million extension he signed after getting traded to the Eagles.
And after playing out the first three seasons of his rookie contract, Smith is now eligible for a contract extension. He still has one year left under contract and the Eagles will very clearly pick up his fifth-year option. But the Eagles are also very proactive with these things. If they know they want to keep a player, they work to get an extension done.
Is Smith thinking about that this offseason?
“Let the chips fall where they fall,” he said. “When the time comes, it comes. I’m not necessarily focused on it. It will come and I’m just letting it go.”