Entering Year 2, Smith one of Eagles' most important players


Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry
12. Miles Sanders
11. Josh Sweat
10. DeVonta Smith

All eyes were on DeVonta Smith last year during his rookie season. The addition of A.J. Brown ought to make things easier on him in Year 2.

Even with all that attention last year and despite the fact that the Eagles began a very heavy running offense, the Heisman Trophy winner still managed to catch 64 passes for 916 yards and 5 touchdowns. He broke DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie record of 912 yards set back in 2008.

And many think Smith is still just scratching the surface.

“In my opinion, Smitty is a wide receiver 1 and he’s going against a cornerback No. 2,” Brown said this spring. “I expect Smitty to dominate.”

The Eagles didn’t try to hide their passing game plan last year. They wanted to get the ball to Smith and to Dallas Goedert as their top two targets. That was obvious and logical but it also allowed opposing defenses to really hone in on those two options. We really saw that in the playoff game in Tampa.

The addition of Brown should help Smith just as much as it helps Jalen Hurts.

You could argue that Smith should be higher on this list but the presence of Brown drops him down. He might be slightly less important now that he’s not the No. 1 option but that doesn’t mean his numbers will suffer. In fact, there’s a good chance he’ll have a better statistical season in Year 2. It’ll be up to the Eagles’ offensive coaches and Hurts to divvy up those targets.

And having a full year with Hurts under his belt should help Smith as well.

If Smith hits 1,084 yards this season (a very attainable number), he’d become the second Eagles player in franchise history with 2,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons. Jackson holds that record right now with 2,068. So if Smith has the type of season many expect, he has a very good chance to be off to a quicker pace than any receiver in Eagles history.

Brown is definitely impressed by his new teammate and explained it when asked why he thinks Smith is a No. 1 receiver.

“Because he’s a really good route runner,” Brown said. “Guys early on in their career, first year, year two, they’re still developing and he can run every route in the route tree. It’s just the little nuances, the things we can all get better at and that will just keep tuning up our game, keep developing. I think the sky’s the limit for Smitty. I’m excited for Year 2, the step he takes.”

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