Brooks’ NFL mock has Alabama’s DeVonta Smith falling to Cardinals
Alabama’s two first-round picks from last year, receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, didn’t lead the Crimson Tide in receiving yards two seasons ago.
Receiver Jaylen Waddle, who could be the first Alabama player off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, dealt with an ankle injury this past year and didn’t lead his team, either.
Heisman winner DeVonta Smith was the top ‘Bama receiver in each of the past two years.
Now it’s on to the pros, and his draft range varies depending on which person is mocking it.
While ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Smith going second overall to the New York Jets, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks’ first mock draft of the year has the Alabama product falling all the way to the Arizona Cardinals at 16.
Larry Fitzgerald has not made any announcement of his plans for 2021 as of this writing. However, with the 37-year-old either at or near the end of his illustrious career, the Cards decide to grab a polished pass catcher to play opposite DeAndre Hopkins in this scenario.
By and large, Smith is viewed as one of the top three receivers in the draft class, but there are differing opinions about which of Smith, Waddle and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase should be the first wideout off the board.
Smith has production on his side. He posted 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide en route to a national title this season.
In 2019, Smith led Alabama with 1,256 yards and 14 scores, bettering Jeudy (1,163 yards, 10 TDs) and Ruggs (746 yards, 7 TDs).
Ruggs went 12th in the 2019 draft to the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Denver Broncos selected Jeudy 15th last year.
The Cardinals in 2020 went linebacker and selected Isaiah Simmons with the No. 8 pick. They didn’t select a receiver to join a young group that includes Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson.
With Fitzgerald’s potential retirement and the lack of proven players in the wide receiver room after Hopkins and Christian Kirk, Brooks won’t be the last person to mock Arizona drafting a receiver with their first-round choice.