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DeVonta Smith says he and Jalen Hurts are NFL’s best young QB-WR duo

DeVonta Smith is not tempering expectations at all as he enters the NFL with former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts on the Philadelphia Eagles.

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”745868″ player=”23231″ title=”3%20reasons%20why%20Joe%20Flacco%20to%20the%20Philadelphia%20Eagles%20made%20perfect%20sense” duration=”79″ description=”Joe Flacco is no longer a starter-caliber quarterback in the NFL. That time passed a good half-decade ago. In no way does this mean Flacco can’t be a quality backup for a young signal caller.It appears that the Philadelphia Eagles have come to this conclusion. According to Flacco’s agency, the Super Bowl quarterback has signed with Philadelphia. He will be second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts’ primary backup after the Eagles traded Carson Wentz earlier in the offseason.Flacco, 36, last suited up for the New York Jets in 2020. He started four games for the team, throwing for 864 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Prior to that, Flacco spent one season in Denver following a solid 11-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Below, we look at three reasons why Joe Flacco to the Philadelphia Eagles makes sense.” uploaddate=”2021-03-24″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/17660/thumb/745868_t_1616601839.png” contentUrl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/17660/sd/745868.mp4″]

Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith is fresh off winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Alabama, and is talking a big game ahead of his first NFL season.

Reuniting with his former Crimson Tide quarterback in Jalen Hurts, Smith believes they will prove to be the NFL’s best young QB-receiver combo, per ESPN.com’s Tim McManus:

“Me and Jalen. […] That’s what you’re supposed to say. You’re supposed to feel confident about that. I believe me and Jalen will continue the connection that we had [at Alabama]. That’s just the confidence in it. If you’re not confident in what you’re doing, then you’re in the wrong business.”

Smith has every reason to be confident after putting up the senior campaign he did in Tuscaloosa:

  • DeVonta Smith stats in 2020: 117 receptions, 1,856 receiving yards, 23 touchdowns

However, there is reason to be a little concerned about whether or not Smith and Hurts can recapture some of the magic they apparently had at Alabama.

DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts didn’t share lots of quality reps at Alabama

DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts didn't share lots of quality reps at Alabama
Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s put some of the concerns about Smith and Hurts succeeding in the pros on the back burner for a minute. It’s important to flesh out just how much time they shared together in college, and the quality of said time.

No doubt, the pair grew close as teammates, but in terms of connecting in the passing game, there wasn’t as much opportunity for that during the years they were together in game situations.

Multiple future first-round receivers in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III were ahead of Smith in experience. Jaylen Waddle went even higher (No. 6) than Smith did (10th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The last year Hurts was the full-time starter with the Crimson Tide was 2017, and in 2018 when Tua Tagovailoa was running the show, Smith finished behind all three of the aforementioned wideouts in receiving yards.

Hurts then transferred to Oklahoma for the 2019 season, just as Smith’s career began to really take off.

DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts face uphill battle to be NFL’s premier young duo

DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts face uphill battle to be NFL's premier young duo
Apr 30, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles first round draft pick DeVonta Smith (right) prepares to the ring the bell as quarterback Jalen Hurts (left) looks on before game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The reason it’s important to establish all that is because, first of all, Waddle and Tagovailoa are now playing together with the Miami Dolphins. They probably have more innate chemistry than Smith and Hurts, and definitely more live game reps.

Oh, and the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall in this year’s draft, reuniting him with his LSU QB Joe Burrow. When they last played together in 2019, Chase had 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Smith’s apex in college came with Tagovailoa and New England Patriots first-round pick Mac Jones throwing him the rock. It wasn’t until after Hurts left Alabama that he really got to show the strides he made as a passer.

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings – Outlook for all 32 teams entering summer

Credit Hurts for working at his craft to improve as a passer as he approached the NFL. That said, no one is confusing him with Tagovailoa or Jones as pure throwers. At least to this point, Hurts isn’t in their class.

Waddle’s elite speed and Chase’s phenomenal all-around game can help offset any growing pains in the NFL. What if Smith’s sub-170-pound frame can’t hold up to the pounding he’ll take?

In the opinion of yours truly, Smith is going to be a baller, but that’s still a legitimate concern, as is the fact that he’s playing with an inferior thrower to Tagovailoa and Burrow in Hurts.

Then again, with the Eagles returning a much healthier veteran offensive line in 2021 and Hurts actually having a legitimate separator, polished route-runner and prolific producer in Smith as his go-to guy, maybe the pair can shock the NFL world and indeed emerge as the best young passing game combination.

Smith and Hurts are accustomed to being doubted. They’ll have healthy chips on their shoulders as they try to restore the Eagles to glory, which may be the juice they need to back up Smith’s bold statement.

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