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NFL Draft

Do DeVonta Smith’s Landing Spots Change After Free Agency?

  • The Draft Network
  • March 22, 2021
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Free agency is one of my favorite periods of the draft calendar. For months we’ve done mock drafts with the same team needs; these needs take into account both areas where the team struggled the previous year and also potential losses the team might have in free agency. When free agency opens up, that’s when teams both lose and gain players which adjust what we believe will be the top target position for them in the upcoming draft.

This was billed to be a very active wide receiver free agency cycle. Though it wasn’t as aggressive as we thought it might be, there was plenty of change. Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson got the franchise tags from their respective clubs, but Corey Davis, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Curtis Samuel, and Marvin Jones all moved around the league to new teams.

With both of those opening paragraphs in consideration, many teams have adjusted their target position for the first round, and with so much movement from the wide receiver group, many of the teams we predicted to dip into the 2021 wide receiver draft class in the first round might no longer be in that market. Because of this, we may see some different landing spots in upcoming mock drafts for the top wide receivers, but the one who has me most intrigued is DeVonta Smith.

Simply put: there was no better receiver in the country this past season than Smith. In what eventually was crowned as his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign, Smith was unstoppable. It didn’t matter what team or what player he was lining up against throughout the season, Smith could not be stopped—on the way to another Alabama National Championship.

But for the last few months, we’ve been putting Smith under a more detailed draft microscope. For as good as Smith has been on the field and for how productive he was, not just last season, but throughout his entire collegiate career, his measurables are that of a player that rarely makes it in the league, let alone someone worth a top pick. At just around 6-feet tall and about 165-170 pounds at a playing weight, there just aren’t many players to compare him to physically who can ease the worries of a team looking to take a chance on him with their top selection in the draft.

But we know someone will, and before this week we had our typical landing spot for him: Miami Dolphins (at No. 3), Philadelphia Eagles (No. 6), Detroit Lions (No. 7), New York Giants (No. 11), New England Patriots (No. 15), Washington Football Team (No. 19(, and Chicago Bears (No. 20). Has that list changed post-free agency? Let’s examine each one-by-one.

Miami Dolphins

I thought it was a stretch for the Dolphins to select Smith in the top three before free agency, and now that they’ve signed Will Fuller, I would say that the chances of that are now slim to none. If Smith makes it to No. 18, their second pick in the first round, that might be still on the table. But, I still think they go without a receiver in the first round.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles desperately need a wide receiver, and they didn’t make a splash at the position in free agency (since they didn’t really have any money to). Wide receiver is still on the board for them with their top pick, and Smith could still be an option. I think this is as high as he could go.

Detroit Lions

The Lions lost Kenny Golladay to free agency, but they signed Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. If the Lions were looking at receivers at No. 7, I would think they would look more toward someone like Ja’Marr Chase who can play as an X receiver. But receiver will definitely still be on their priority list, so Smith could still go here. Ultimately I think the Lions go elsewhere.

New York Giants

The Giants were a comfortable target for Smith in mock drafts because people could still have him going in the top 12 but not in the top 10. But with the Giants giving big money to Kenny Golladay, I don’t see them taking a wide receiver at No. 11, at least not Smith. Plus, general manager Dave Gettleman does not seem like the kind of person to draft a 165-pound wide receiver. I would say this is no longer a logical spot for Smith—in some ways I don’t think it ever was.

New England Patriots

The Patriots made major upgrades to their passing weapons, and by that I mean they threw a lot of money at a lot of guys and I sure hope it works out for them. At receiver, they signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. At tight end, they signed Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. I still think they need a wide receiver, but they likely aren’t taking one at No. 15 now; for this topic specifically, I don’t think they take Smith. They certainly could, but I don't think it will be their first option. Then again, I didn’t think Agholor would be a team's first option, but, you know.

Washington Football Team

Washington won the Curtis Samuel sweepstakes this free agency period. I don’t think they'll be too far out of range for Smith at No. 19 in the draft, but with Terry McLaurin and Samuel and throw in Antonio Gibson, too, I think they’ll look elsewhere with their first-round pick.

Chicago Bears

I have no idea what the Bears will do. Every time I want them to do something smart, in my opinion, they seem to do the opposite. They gave Allen Robinson the franchise tag and still have Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney. I don’t think they’ll be using No. 20 on a wide receiver.

Other Options

One potential option I really like is the Tennessee Titans. The Titans lost Jonnu Smith, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries from last season. They need a big-time playmaker in the passing game next to A.J. Brown. I know Titans fans have their eyes set on Rashod Bateman, but don’t count Smith out as an option.

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