How’s Eagles rookie DeVonta Smith similar to HOF receiver Randy Moss? – Philadelphia Eagles Blog

How’s Eagles rookie DeVonta Smith similar to HOF receiver Randy Moss? – Philadelphia Eagles Blog


PHILADELPHIA — Rookie receiver DeVonta Smith’s NFL profession is off to a quick begin.

The No. 10 total decide within the 2021 draft leads the Philadelphia Eagles in receptions (25) and receiving yards (314), rating second amongst rookies in each classes behind former teammate Jaylen Waddle (27 catches) with the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase (456 yards).

Smith will likely be beneath the nationwide highlight Thursday evening when the Eagles host quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).

Smith did not precisely sneak up on anybody. The Eagles traded up in April’s draft to choose him following a Heisman Trophy marketing campaign wherein he led the NCAA in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856) and receiving touchdowns (23) for Alabama.

There have been some issues, nonetheless, about how he would transition to the NFL given his 6-foot, 170-pound body. The earlier seven receivers chosen within the prime 10 of the NFL draft measured two inches taller and about 40 kilos heavier (6-foot-2, 212 kilos on common), per ESPN Stats & Information. The final wideout chosen that prime weighing lower than 180 kilos was Tavon Austin, who hasn’t began a sport over the previous three seasons and hasn’t surpassed 5 landing catches in a single season.

But those that frolicked round Smith throughout his pre-mix and draft preparation work at Yo Murphy Performance in Tampa, Florida, have been removed from nervous — a distinguished group that included Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and linebacker Derrick Brooks, in addition to Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard. From the best way Smith educated to the best way he moved to his deep understanding of the sport, it was evident Smith was distinctive.

“When you’re young, you play off emotion and energy,” Moss stated. “Rarely do you get a guy that wants to be a student of the game at an early age. And I think that’s what he wants to be.”

Making an impression on Moss

Smith’s explosiveness and skill to separate from defenders bounce off the tape, nevertheless it was his sturdy need to study and enhance regardless of his accomplishments on the faculty stage that basically struck Moss, who’s a part of Yo Murphy’s draft prep program. When he arrived in Tampa in January, Smith was coming off surgical procedure to restore a dislocated finger suffered within the nationwide title sport. He wasn’t cleared to catch passes and could not even observe his 40-yard sprint at first as a result of his injured finger was on his stance hand.

“He couldn’t run routes,” Moss stated, “so he was like, ‘Is it OK if I just come and stand around and just listen?’ That impressed me more because you’re down there in the heat for an hour and a half to two hours and he’s just sitting there, just soaking it all in.”

One interplay specifically between Moss and Smith spoke volumes to Murphy, a former NFL large receiver who runs this system. Moss had gathered a bunch of talent gamers collectively that included Smith, Dee Eskridge (drafted by the Seattle Seahawks), Anthony Schwartz (Cleveland Browns), Demetric Felton (Browns) and Dez Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans). Moss requested them an open query about how to decipher defensive coverages. The usually quiet Smith “kind of took over the conversation as if he was Moss,” Murphy stated.

“Not in a disrespectful way. But just really sure of himself … You’ve got one of the best receivers in history and a lot of very talented other receivers that we had in our group. And the commanding presence he had in that situation, it was very apparent he was different.”

‘Maniac’ versus the ‘Slim Reaper’

Leonard, nicknamed “Maniac” for the power he brings to the sport, discovered a kindred spirit in Smith, aka the “Slim Reaper.”

Smith is an early riser and would get to the coaching facility at 6 a.m. to work out. The solely different one that could be in there at that hour was Leonard, who works out at Yo Murphy Performance within the offseason.

“He had that same mentality, that he wanted to work,” Leonard said this spring. “He has that winner mindset, and it was good to see some young talent come in there and push me: ‘OK, this is the young talent coming in.’”

Added Smith: “I built a relationship with [Leonard] coming in that time. I knew if I was going to be up there, he was going to be up there. Being with him every morning, seeing the way he trains, a guy like that in the NFL, you see it worked out for him — he just got paid [Leonard signed a five-year, $99 million contract extension in August] — so seeing the work he put in got him to where he wanted to be. Being around a guy like him, it just helped me out so much during the process.”

Murphy, who performed receiver for over a decade within the NFL, CFL, XFL and NFL Europe earlier than entering into excessive-efficiency coaching, known as Smith “one of the most mature and locked in athletes I’ve ever had.”

His favourite story about Smith got here towards the top of their pre-draft coaching, because the athletes have been preparing for his or her professional days.

“We hadn’t really pushed our distance, and so I had the guys doing some sprints,” Murphy stated. “They had five sprints, and I wanted them to do the first three at about 65-75% and then for the last two, I wanted them to get up and go. And so I said, ‘Smitty, have you done your full speed sprints yet? And he goes, ‘Coach, I always go full speed.’ Not in an arrogant way, but just matter of fact.

“I simply sat down and thought of it. How he stated it, it wasn’t him being cocky or something, it was similar to if I requested him if the sky was blue. To him, it was like, ‘What are you speaking about?'”

That Moss mentality

There are physiological explanations for why Smith is able to do what he does on the football field.

“He’s received such a thoughts-physique consciousness and a thoughts-physique connection,” Murphy said. “The impulses from his central nervous system are so in tune with the perform of his muscle. The fluidity is ridiculous. He’s a man that you simply’re very not often going to have the option to catch off steadiness. He understands his heart of mass so nicely, and his physique simply form of will get again to the place he’s structurally sturdy at. It’s a really distinctive factor even within the highest stage of athletes.”

Even Smith’s skill to soak up bodily punishment regardless of his small body may be attributed to being “structurally strong,” Murphy defined, from his bone mass to the best way “he has his rib cage directly over his hip.”

Much of it, although, is about mentality. That’s what Moss targeted on with Smith: the appropriate mindset to have as a receiver. The means you carry your self. The means you assault a defensive again. At 6-foot-4, 210 kilos, Moss confronted among the identical questions on sturdiness popping out of Marshall, making it straightforward to see elements of himself in Smith.

“That was my mentality of [fighting against] the things they said I couldn’t do — not going across the middle, I wasn’t tough enough, wait until I take that first shot going across the middle — all the little things the naysayers said. I definitely see the similarities, and I’m glad he does, too,” Moss stated.

For all of the teachings Smith obtained, his biggest takeaway got here from sizing Moss up.

“Both of us being long, skinny guys, just our frame and the way we get open. That was the thing that stuck with me the most,” Smith stated. “A guy like him, he was a little bit bigger than me, but the frame that he had, if he can do it, I can do it.”

Moss sees widespread traits in himself and Smith, from “how slippery he is at the line of scrimmage” to how he’s in a position to achieve separation to the best way he’s “able to take that little lean, nimble body and be able to maneuver it and be able to stay away from that hard contact.”

Moss plans to proceed to work with Smith, with a deal with getting him stronger bodily whereas hammering out weaknesses in his sport.

“For me, just being around this young DeVonta, it’s just more keeping him hungry and thirsty for more knowledge, and keep him hungry and thirsty to get better each year,” Moss stated.



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