Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were signed this offseason to bolster a lackluster group of Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers.
While training camp is still two months away, it appears that Smith is developing a connection with second-year quarterback Carson Wentz already.
One of the Eagles’ biggest downfalls in 2016 was their inability to get the ball down the field. In fact, only 9.7 percent of Wentz’s passes went 20-plus yards.
In addition, the former North Dakota State signal caller completed just 29.4 percent of his throws of 20-plus yards, which was 22nd in the entire NFL. Wentz threw just three touchdowns on those types of throws while also tossing six interceptions.
When Wentz came out of the 2016 NFL Draft, he was billed as being a gunslinger much like former Pro Bowl quarterback Brett Favre. In just one season, Wentz proved that he wasn’t afraid to take chances, but the talent wasn’t necessarily in place to take too many risks.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Wentz’s ability is going to be Smith.
Smith had two very forgettable years with the San Francisco 49ers as he totaled just 53 receptions for 930 yards and seven touchdowns. Prior to that, the former Maryland wideout had a career-high 11 touchdowns with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.
The Richmond native has recorded a catch of 50-plus yards in each of his six NFL seasons. During Smith’s last above-average season in 2014, he hauled in a pass of at least 20 yards in nine games.
During Monday’s OTAs in Philadelphia, Wentz and Smith certainly appeared to have plenty of chemistry. Wentz hit Smith deep on several occasions, including a 40-yard play in which Smith burnt former LSU cornerback Jalen Mills.
Smith stands to benefit from the play of Wentz this coming season after playing dealing with the 49ers quarterback carousel of Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick.
The former Terrapin wide receiver still is one of the fastest in the NFL and should get plenty of one-on-one opportunities with Jeffery drawing some of the defense’s attention. In fact, Smith’s 17.0 yards-per-reception are the second-most in the NFL since 2011 trailing only DeSean Jackson (17.4).
Smith’s downfield ability will open up the playbook more for offensive coordinator Frank Reich and the Eagles. When he’s caught the ball in open space in the past, he’s often found the end zone.
During his NFL career, Smith has hauled in 37 touchdowns and only fumbled the ball twice.
Wentz definitely should see a huge bump in production with his new weapons in tow. While Smith struggled the last two seasons, a resurgence in Philadelphia wouldn’t be a huge surprise to anybody.