Welcome to Philly, DeVonta Smith!
About This Sports Courier 2021 NFL Draft Interview: Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith discusses getting drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles 10th overall in the first round, playing in Philly, reuniting with quarterback Jalen Hurts, working with head coach Nick Sirianni, and what fans can expect from him in the 2021 NFL season!
Footage courtesy of and provided by the Philadelphia Eagles organization to TSC News TV and The Sports Courier Podcast.
Fast Facts about Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith:
- 2020 Heisman Trophy winner
- 3,965 career receiving yards
- 46 touchdown catches
- 2017, 2020 National Champion with Bama under head coach Nick Saban
- 2020 AP College Football Player of the Year
- 2020 Biletnikoff Award winner
- 2020 CFP National Championship Offensive MVP
Full transcript provided by Eagles:
Q. What can you tell us about your interactions with the Eagles throughout the process? How much did you know that they were interested in you, and what did you make of the people you talked to, especially Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni? (Bo Wulf)
DEVONTA SMITH: I always felt they were kind of interested in me. We talked a lot of football, just seeing the way I learn and things like that, and then just talk about myself, try to figure out the type of person I am, type of player I am and then just get a feel for the coaching staff.
Q. Welcome to Philly. Before the draft throughout the whole process there was a lot that was made about your weight and size. How much do you weigh and what was going through your mind when that was being discussed? How can you overcome any of those negative perceptions? (Rob Maaddi)
DEVONTA SMITH: I don’t care too much about what people say about my weight. I understand reporters have a job. It’s their job to make a story. I just let them do their job. I can’t get mad at them for doing their job.
Q. What was the emotion like when you got the call from I guess it was Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman, and then talk about being reunited with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts, your former teammate at Alabama. (Ed Kracz)
DEVONTA SMITH: I was shocked that they had traded up for me. I was really like, if they traded up for me then they see something that they like. So I was really excited and it’s a blessing.
And Jalen, that’s my guy. Been with him in my time at Alabama. Even when I was a recruit he was the guy trying to get me to come to Alabama. That’s my guy. I have a great relationship and I’m ready to work.
Q. Have you heard from him since you were drafted? (Ed Kracz)
DEVONTA SMITH: Yeah, talked to him not too long ago.
Q. I was going to ask about Jalen as well, so I’ll go to something else. I was reading that magazine profile of you and it really seems like you’ve come through a lot and you really have a lot of drive to make it here. Do you and [former Alabama teammate] Jaylen Waddle — he got picked sixth. Are you guys competitive? Do you want to try to outdo him in the NFL, or do you guys talk about that at all? (Les Bowen)
DEVONTA SMITH: I’m happy for him. That’s my brother. Almost brought me to tears just hearing his name called. Just everything that he’s been through, the commitment he had day in and day out when he got injured to come back. Seeing him get picked in front of me, I was happy as hell.
It’s just exciting to see somebody like that just go through that and then get picked at number six. Most definitely a blessing and I’m happy for him.
Q. Did you want to go before him, or did you care? (Les Bowen)
DEVONTA SMITH: I mean, it really didn’t matter to me. Whoever went first, it’s a blessing for both of us to be in this situation.
Q. I know it’s early and this just happened, but how dynamic do you think you can be in this offense? You know QB Jalen Hurts. I’m sure you know a little bit about the Eagles from having talked to them. How dynamic do you think this offense can be and what kind of impact do you think you can make day one? (Jeff Skversky)
DEVONTA SMITH: I think it can be very dynamic. We all have to come in and put in the work. If you don’t put in the work, you are not going to do it, but I feel like this team is going to be putting in the work and everybody is going to be excited, and we are trying to change the program around.
Q. Do you think you can make a big impact day one yourself? (Jeff Skversky)
DEVONTA SMITH: Yes, sir.
Q. Just wanted to ask about that Alabama wide receiver room. So many talented guys. Last year, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs got drafted. This year, it’s you and Jaylen Waddle. What did those guys all do together to kind of push you and you push them back as players? (John McMullen)
DEVONTA SMITH: I mean, at practice and things you see those guys working hard and you see the things they do, and it just makes you want to get better and do better.
You see somebody go out there and make a one-handed catch, you’re like, Now I got to go out here and do something spectacular. You see those guys catch a slant, take it to the house, now you want to go do that. I mean, just seeing those guys be successful made you want to be successful and just made you want to work harder. Knowing that they’re working hard and they have your back, you just want to do the same and return the favor to them.
Q. I saw you were aiming to wear your college number, No. 6 in the NFL; I saw you talked about No. 3 as a backup. Do you have a plan on which jersey number you want to wear or are you really going to be pushing for that No. 6? (Brandon Lee Gowton)
DEVONTA SMITH: I mean, I would love to wear No. 6. If I get the chance, that’s what I’m going to go with.
Q. When you showed up to the draft tonight, where did you think you would be picked tonight? (Zach Berman)
DEVONTA SMITH: I had no clue.
Q. What do you think separates you as a receiver? (Zach Berman)
DEVONTA SMITH: I can do everything. I can play inside, outside, special teams, you can put me in the backfield; you can do whatever with me.
Q. You only played with Jalen Hurts at Alabama I think the one year when you were a freshman. I don’t think you played a whole lot. What was it like working with him in practice and everything? Were you able to develop some kind of camaraderie? (Martin Frank)
DEVONTA SMITH: Jalen taught everybody the game. He was just one of those guys that was a student of the game and taught everybody the game. When you got reps with him, he was always telling you about coverages and rotations. The connection is there, the chemistry is there. Overall, he’s just always helped everybody else be better on the field.
Q. You mentioned you were shocked that the Eagles traded up to get you. What you’re your interactions like with them in the pre-draft process? Did you have an idea about how interested they were in you? (Dave Zangaro)
DEVONTA SMITH: I really didn’t know. When they traded up, I didn’t think they were going to take me. I mean, the interaction was just something I will never forget. They were excited and I was excited, and just overall happy to be a Philadelphia Eagle.
Q. One of the things that was talked about with the coach’s press conference was your ability to handle press coverage. How much of that did you face in the SEC, and how do you think you’ll handle it in the National Football League? (Chris Murray)
DEVONTA SMITH: I faced it every day at practice, faced it every weekend in a game. I think I’ll do good. I mean, I’m not getting drafted here just because I didn’t do that.
So I feel like I’m going to be successful and just keep perfecting my craft and being myself and everything will work out.
Q. What do you like about route running? Why are you so proficient at it for such a young age? And what is your favorite route to run? (Mike Kaye)
DEVONTA SMITH: Route running is part of being a receiver. So, that’s something that you have to do. Without that how else do you expect to get open? Some guys can bully their way open, but you can’t bully everybody. Sometimes you have to lean on the route running. That’s a big part of being a receiver, so I take pride in it and that’s what I do.
Q. What’s your favorite route? (Mike Kaye)
DEVONTA SMITH: Any route.
Q. You were an accomplished basketball player in high school. What were you able to go ahead and bring from that basketball mentality when you got to play football in college, and how close were you to actually deciding to play basketball full time and not playing football? (Chris Franklin)
DEVONTA SMITH: With basketball, I played the one through the four, so sometimes I was in the post, so just that mentality, that grit mentality just to go in there just to bang, to be scrappy, that carried over to football.
And then just going up to get rebounds, that’s attacking the ball at the highest point. That helped me out. Footwork, that kind of helped me out, too. Just really the main thing about basketball was just the mentality I had. It wasn’t a big team, so I had to be in the post, so it was all about getting physical.
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