Mike Tannenbaum Believes DeVonta Smith Can Overcome Slender Frame

The ex-NFL exec sees a lot of Marvin Harrison in DeVonta Smith
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PHILADELPHIA - There are exceptions to every rule and former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum believes DeVonta Smith fits into that category.

The Eagles' first-round pick at No. 10 overall, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner during his final season at Alabama, is enormously talented. It seems like the lone concern over Smith translating his college success to the professional level is his slight 166-pound frame.

Tannenbaum, the former GM with the New York Jets and the executive VP of football operations in Miami who also helped Howie Roseman get his start in the league, noted that the perceived prototype of an NFL body is very real during a recent conversation with SI.com's Eagle Mavon on The BIRDS 365 Show.

The former exec brought up the subject when discussing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

"I was very critical of the Bengals a year ago," Tannenbaum admitted. "I thought that it made no sense to me whatsoever to [cut] Andy Dalton. I would have made sure that he played, giving Joe Burrow not only time to get to know the playbook but get his lower body bigger and stronger."

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Burrow, of course, ultimately tore both the ACL and MCL in his left knee while also damaging his PCL and meniscus during a Week 11 game against the Washington Football Team.

"I take no pride in the fact that I was one of a few people that said look he has a real chance of getting hurt," said Tannenbaum. "You know his body, when you look at him, was not an NFL body. When you look at guys like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger and Dak Prescott and Cam Newton, those are NFL bodies. They are built for the rigors."

Of course, All of those QBs mentioned by Tannenbaum have also been injured over the years as well, so how much does body type matter?

Zach Ertz's answer at one time about injuries was telling.

"The injury rate in this league is 100 percent," the Eagles' veteran tight end said. "If you play long enough, you are going to get hurt."

All the NFL body talk with Tannenbaum naturally led to questions about Smith and the so-called Slim Reaper's frame.

"I was at the National Championship Game - Alabama, Ohio State - and I was going to the stadium thinking that Justin Fields could close the gap and maybe work himself into that [top of the draft] conversation because he played so well the week before. I left the stadium saying the best football player on that field was DeVonta Smith," Tannenbaum recounted.

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Smith's talent also brought up some bad memories for Tannenbaum of his Jets trying to cover Philadelphia native and now Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.

"Just in terms of Ohio State knew [Smith] was getting the ball and they still couldn't cover him," he said. "For years at the Jets, we tried to cover Marvin Harrison and we knew the three routes that he would run. You know it looked like if there was a strong wind he'd fall over and we still couldn't cover him."

Tannenbaum can now visualize current defenses having some of the same problems with Smith.

"I guess the point is that [the weight] would be a concern but [Smith] certainly has time to grow into [his body] and he has incredible intangibles and a work ethic that when you look at the production and person you're bidding on the next 10 years so I'm sure they have a detailed plan to work on that," he said.

Rules wouldn't exist without the exceptions that prove them.

"What what really impressed me about him again was Ohio State," said Tannenbaum, "went to the stadium saying we're not gonna let DeVonta Smith beat us and he did."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.