DeVonta Smith was the best wide receiver in college football last season, such a dominant force that his Heisman Trophy-caliber play fueled Alabama to an offense-powered national championship run in the College Football Playoff. However you look at it, Smith is a top-three wide receiver prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, right there with LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and his ‘Bama teammate, Jaylen Waddle.
But through all the great hands, strong route running and big plays, there has been some concern that Smith his reported latest playing weight — 166 pounds — will make a few pro teams shy away from his ultra productive 6-1 frame. Between the Bengals at No. 5 overall and the Lions at No. 7 overall, there’s a fair chance that Chase, Waddle and Smith will come off the board with consecutive picks. But with Cincinnati tied more to Chase and Miami attached more to Waddle, it might come down to Detroit to keep Smith in the top 10.
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If the Lions pass, it would become a lot more unpredictable on when and where Smith lands. The Panthers have other pressing needs at No. 8 and the Broncos should be thinking quarterback at No. 9. The Giants, after signing Kenny Golladay, should go offensive tackle over wideout at No. 10, while the Cowboys, who made wide CeeDee Lamb a 2020 luxury pick, won’t be going receiver again at No. 11.
Here are DeVonta Smith’s best landing spots if he experiences a sudden, surprising fall on draft night:
12. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles also will be interested in one of the top two cornerbacks (Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley) and might hold out hope that the top tight end (Florida’s Kyle Pitts) somehow slips. But should Chase and Waddle be gone, Smith would get strong consideration to reunite with Jalen Hurts as a true No. 1 to complement Jalen Reagor. Philadelphia also was attached to Smith when it picked at No. 6.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers seem less inclined to go offensive tackle to help Justin Herbert in Year 2 and should be thinking about a weapon to play well off Keenan Allen and put Mike Williams into a lesser complementary role. Waddle offers that dazzling open-field home-run ability, but Smith has his own brand of big-play flair as more of a complete target. Smith can also help replace the possession void of tight end Hunter Henry on intermediate routes.
MORE: Is DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle a better NFL bet?
15. New England Patriots
The Patriots used free agency to overhaul their receiving corps by adding Henry and former Titan Jonnu Smith at tight end and then former 49er Kendrick Bourne and former Raider Nelson Agholor at wideout. But including busting first-rounder N’Keal Harry, they didn’t have any real answers at the position except for Jakobi Meyers last season, and now Julian Edelman has retired. Smith, from Bill Belichick’s favorite satellite program under good friend Nick Saban, can have a lot of appeal as a long-term go-to guy who “Does His Job” in every which way. Whether it’s Cam Newton at first or a young promising QB later, he will appreciate Smith’s veteran-like reliable presence all over the field.
19. Washington Football Team
Washington got a much-needed second big-play receiver in former Panther Curtis Samuel to help Terry McLaurin, giving the offense speed to burn. But as much as WFT also needs an offensive tackle, a third option who can line up all over playing off them stretching the field vertically and horizontally would be a big boon to the passing game, at first for bridge QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Don’t rule out Washington from trading up a few spots to get Smith should he fall past the Chargers, knowing it can build well on being sub-.500 NFC East winner with an additional explosive element to the offense. Staying put, Washington should think about Florida’s Kadarius Toney for the slot, anyway.
MORE: Ranking the top 10 wide receivers in 2021 NFL Draft
20. Chicago Bears
The Bears are on the same wavelength was Washington aa a surprise 2020 playoff team. They also are paying a bridge QB, Andy Dalton, $14 million a season and might be interested in a big trade up for a rookie QB if a reasonable opportunity presents itself. They also have the strong alternative of offensive tackle, but also could use a more dynamic third receiver to put with Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney vs. disappointing Anthony Miller.
Smith should be gone well before Chicago’s pick, but if it misses out on quarterbacks, the team could be inclined to aggressively go up and get Smith vs. considering Toney.
27. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens did sign former Chief Sammy Watkins, hoping that he can find his way back to being a dangerous receiver again reunited with his former Bills offensive coordinator, Greg Roman. But they don’t have total reliable support for speedy Marquise “Hollywood” Brown beyond tight end Mark Andrews. They could think about an upgrade from Miles Boykin outside. Smith can keep up the push for big plays but also give Lamar Jackson a steadier target who can run every route at a high level.
Baltimore also has had an affinity for Alabama players, going back to having legendary Crimson Tide tight end Ozzie Newsome as its GM. Newsome’s successor, Eric De Costa, could do more with Jackson in mind vs. opting for edge pass rush and offensive tackle help early. Based on the trade value chart, the Ravens can use these picks to move up all the way to No. 11 (Giants), putting them in prime position to grab a falling Smith.