With Alabama securing the National Championship on Monday over Ohio State, the college football season is ultimately behind us. During the game, however, one player that continued to increase his draft stock was wide receiver Devonta Smith. Finishing with seven receptions, 130 receiving yards, and three touchdowns, many are calling for the Heisman winner to be one of the top considerations in the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the NFL Draft taking place on April 19th, which franchises should be considering Smith in the first round? Here are five ideal fits:
New York Jets, #2 Pick
The instant overreaction from Smith’s consistency throughout the recent season would be the New York Jets passing on a top quarterback or Oregon’s OT Penei Sewell in order to select Devonta Smith with the #2 overall pick. Still, the production of Smith would result in an invaluable upgrade for the Jets offense.
The top receiver for New York last season based on multiple categories was Jamison Crowder, who only appeared in 12 games. With 699 receiving yards and six touchdowns, there is room for improvement when it comes to the team’s receiving core. The rest of the depth chart for 2021 includes Crowder, Braxton Berrios, and Denzel Mims.
If Smith is taken here, then one thing becomes obvious: The Jets would need to commit to Sam Darnold as their quarterback of the future. In 12 games last season, Darnold finished with 2,208 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He maintained a quarterback rating of 72.7 and allowed 35 sacks. However, the pieces haven’t been around him to succeed.
Miami Dolphins, #3 Pick
Securing the Houston Texans’ first-round pick in the upcoming draft, the Miami Dolphins have the opportunity to bolster their receiving core with Devonta Smith. The team already has a potential quarterback fit in Tua Tagovailoa, despite early inconsistencies, but failed to produce a receiver to finish with over 800+ receiving yards last season.
Primary receiver DeVante Parker finished with 793 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but those low totals could be due to injuries and the constant rotation of quarterback play between Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Outside of that, their second-most productive wide receiver was Jakeem Grant, who failed to record a single game with 50+ receiving yards.
Surely the Dolphins could address other needs with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but this was a team on the brink of the playoff picture this past season. With the addition of Smith, it’s difficult to not consider them a playoff-caliber team next season.
Cincinnati Bengals, #5 Pick
The Cincinnati Bengals could move forward in various directions with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but adding Devonta Smith results in a potential replacement to veteran AJ Green. There has been speculation on whether Green would remain in Cincinnati past this season, but with only 523 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season, the team is likely to move on.
The Bengals still have developing talents in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins going into next season, but allowing Smith the opportunity to play in a young offense led by Joe Burrow could be seen as an ideal fit. Last season, Cincinnati finished 27th in passing yards per game. By passing on Smith in the NFL Draft, they would likely look to grab one of the top defensive players available.
Philadelphia Eagles, #6 Pick
While the Philadelphia Eagles seek out ways to contend for the NFC East moving forward, would Devonta Smith be an ideal fit? The receiving core is already crowded with Travis Fulgham, Marquise Goodwin, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside among others on the depth chart, but ongoing injuries, below-average quarterback play, and mismanagement limited the success of the offense.
The addition of Smith allows the Eagles to have a consistent play-maker who could threaten the NFC East for years to come. He finished the past college season with 117 receptions, 1,856 receiving yards, and 23 touchdowns. They selected Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, so would they double-down on the top potential wide receiver in this respective draft class?
Detroit Lions, #7 Pick
If Devonta Smith falls to the seventh pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions should consider selecting Devonta Smith. With the futures of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr, and Danny Amendola uncertain, the wide receiver position is an area of need for Detroit.
The Lions have gone three straight seasons with a losing record, but the addition of Smith has the potential to shift the dynamics of this offense. On top of that, the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. With Matthew Stafford reaching the twilight stage of his career, this is the most likely transaction to catapult the Lions into the competitive NFC Wild Card picture.