DeVonta Smith was the backbone of the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver room in his rookie season, a heavy burden for a first-year player. The Eagles had just 1,993 receiving yards from their receivers in 2021 — third-fewest in the NFL — and Smith was responsible for 46% of them.
Smith also accounted for 45.5% of the wide receiver touchdowns for Philadelphia and 43% of the receptions. The Eagles had to get their first-round pick some veteran help this offseason.
Enter A.J. Brown, who the Eagles have under contract for the next five years. Getting a player of Brown’s talent would excite anyone, but Smith can’t wait to work with the team’s newest pass catcher.
“Oh man, I’m excited just to learn from a guy like him,” Smith said Wednesday. “Any time you play football you watch all the different receivers just seeing what everybody has in their toolbox, so him being here and just being able to learn from him (is helpful).
“Just being a guy that’s been in the league a couple years now, just the experiences he’s had, the things that he does, some of the routines he has, just things like that that can help me elevate my game.”
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The Eagles will have young tandem in Brown and Smith that should thrive for years, as one wide receiver already has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt while Smith set the Eagles’ rookie record for receiving yards in a season. Both players already can’t wait to work with each other, which started this week as the team has voluntary workouts.
“Smitty reached out to me,” Brown said earlier this week, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I know he’s excited and I’m excited to work with him. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a speedster guy. Great route runner. So he is a special guy and then I’m gonna go and bring more physicality. So I think it’s good.”
The Eagles have never had two 1,000-yard receivers in one year and haven’t had a wide receiver hit 1,000 yards since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. Both Smith and Brown have an opportunity to surpass 1,000 yards this year — year one of what could be the best wide receiver tandem in franchise history.