Eagles analysis

Skinny Batman in top 10 on Eagles' most important list

DeVonta Smith isn't even the best receiver on the team but he's still massively important in 2023

NBC Universal, Inc.

Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2023 season.

25. Nolan Smith
24. Quez Watkins
23. Kenny Gainwell
22. Marcus Mariota
21. Reed Blankenship
20. Brandon Graham
19. D'Andre Swift
18. Avonte Maddox
17. Cam Jurgens
16. Fletcher Cox
15. Landon Dickerson
14. Jordan Davis
13. Nakobe Dean
12. Jalen Carter
11. James Bradberry
10. Jordan Mailata
9. Josh Sweat
8. DeVonta Smith

Earlier this offseason, DeVonta Smith made some headlines when he appeared on an episode of the I AM ATHLETE podcast and said he’s a top 10 receiver in the NFL.

He has a very strong case.

“I think as you go on and you just continue to raise your level of play, that comes into it,” Smith said this spring about being a top 10 guy. “Like I said, more understanding of the game and things like that. That’s just being confident in myself and my abilities. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have many guys come up here and say they don’t think they’re not. Just being confident in my abilities and raising my play.”

While Smith is the No. 2 receiver in Philadelphia behind A.J. Brown, the Eagles don’t really view him as a two. It’s more like 1 and 1a with Brown and Smith.

Smith last season had 95 catches for 1,196 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 95 catches were a new Eagles record for receivers. Among receivers league-wide, Smith ranked 10th in receptions and eighth in yards:

1. Justin Jefferson: 1,809
2. Tyreek Hill: 1,710
3. Davante Adams: 1,516
4. A.J. Brown: 1,496
5. Stefon Diggs: 1,429
6. CeeDee Lamb: 1,359
7. Jaylen Waddle: 1,356
8. DeVonta Smith: 1,196
9. Terry McLaurin: 1,191
10. Amon-Ra St. Brown: 1,161

Sure, Brown put up bigger numbers in 2022. Sure, Brown is right now the better player. But Smith is a legitimate top 10 receiver in the NFL and he’s going to be massively important to the Eagles’ high-flying offense going into 2023.

Smith was dominant toward the end of last season. Over the last six games of the season, Smith was second in the NFL with 587 receiving yards. The only player in the NFL with more over that span was Brown with 665.

Then you saw what Smith did in the Super Bowl — 7 catches on 9 targets for 100 yards — and remember that he’s always been an extremely clutch player. He was the same way at Alabama, starting when he caught the game-winning touchdown in the National Championship Game as a freshman in 2017.

The Eagles in 2022 had the NFL’s No. 3 ranked offense and the NFL’s No. 9-ranked passing offense. But in order to keep that going this coming season, the Eagles will need repeat performances from their two star receivers. And the more other teams begin to double-team and bracket Brown, the Eagles will need to run the offense through Smith. He should be up for that challenge.

What makes Smith so fun to watch is his mastery of the position. From his precise route-running to his impressive body control catches, Smith is a joy to watch. And the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 10 pick is still getting better.

What’s next for Smith? He wants to get better on the mental side of the game so he doesn’t have to think as much on the field.

“Recognition of the defenses,” Smith said. “Teams change every year. A lot of coordinators change and things like that. Teams that you may have played in the past aren’t running the same scheme and things like that.”

Smith is already a top 10 receiver and has a chance to work his way higher on that list with another big season. The Eagles would certainly be happy to see it.

Subscribe to Eagle Eye anywhere you get your podcasts: 
Apple Podcasts | YouTube Music | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | RSSWatch on YouTube

Contact Us