DeVonta Smith left off list of highest-graded NFL rookies through Week 6

DeVonta Smith #6, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
DeVonta Smith #6, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Perhaps the most agonizing of growing pain that the National Football League exposes all of its rookies to is this one. Guys who aren’t used to losing are drafted to teams who are struggling or have gotten too used to losing themselves. Take Philadelphia Eagles rookie DeVonta Smith for instance.

The most recent Heisman Trophy winner, and the first wide receiver to win the award since Desmond Howard did so in 1991, spent four seasons in Tuscaloosa with the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. In his first year as a member of the program, he caught eight receptions in eight games.

It just so happens that one of them was the game-winner in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. That was his freshman season. Things only got better from there.

Smith went on to snag 235 passes including 117 in his final season with Alabama. That led to 1856 receiving yards, 23 receiving touchdowns, another six yards on four carries, a rushing touchdown, and the aforementioned Heisman Trophy.

During his time with The Tide, Alabama notched a 51-4 win-loss total, and they appeared in three College Football Playoff National Championship Games, winning two of them. That led to him being taken tenth-overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Let’s just say this version of the Philadelphia Eagles is a long way from being the dominant force that Smith is used to playing on, and recently, the evidence of that led to the ‘Slim Reaper’ being left off of a list of some very impressive rookies.

Pro Football ignores DeVonta Smith in a ranking of 2021 rookies.

Heading into Week 7, the stat gurus over at Pro Football Focus ranked the 15-highest players through the first six weeks of the season. Here’s how the top five fell from top to bottom: Creed Humphrey (Kansas City Chiefs), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Cleveland Browns), Mac Jones (New England Patriots), Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals), and Rondale Moore (Arizona Cardinals).

The middle tier looks like this: Nate Hobbs (Las Vegas Raiders), Kadarius Toney (New York Giants), Samuel Cosmi (Washington Football Team), Pete Werner (New Orleans Saints), Kyle Pitts (Atlanta Falcons).

Rashawn Slater (Los Angeles Chargers), Trey Smith (Chiefs), Pat Freiermuth (Pittsburgh Steelers), Alijah Vera-Tucker (New York Jets), and Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos). As you can see, there’s no DeVonta Smith.

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Number 6 has had a rough go of things. He’s beginning to realize the windows shrink at the professional level, and he won’t be as wide open as he was at the NCAA level. We’ve seen enough to know that he warrants the first-round selection the Eagles spent on him. Going forward, here’s a legitimate question.

Is his lack of immediate success a result of a bad scheme, rookie growing pains, ineptitude from his position coach, or a combination of all of those things? There’s no need to worry. He’s approaching the seventh game of his career. Nobody should panic just yet.