Moving On UP: Eagles Make NFL Draft Swap With Cowboys To Land DeVonta Smith

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 30, 2021 - Last Updated on December 12, 2023
DeVonta Smith

Howie Roseman called an NFL Draft audible Thursday night.

And Philadelphia Eagles bettors danced in the end zone.

Two scenes, one administrative and one financial, played out side by side after the Eagles GM forged a swap to land Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith with the 10th, not the 12th selection.

Roseman traded the Eagles’ 12th pick to the Dallas Cowboys for the 10th selection with their NFC East rival already on the clock. Besides swapping first-round picks, Dallas receives a third-round pick (84) from this draft. It enabled the Eagles to vault the New York Giants, who looked ready to take Smith at pick 11.

It was administrative Philly-Philly.

While the Eagles gained a deep-threat receiver for quarterback Jalen Hurts, many New Jersey online sports bettors notched a Hail Mary score.

The switch created many winning tickets at nice prices for bettors having Smith as the Eagles’ first pick or as a Top-10 selection. Howie the Kingmaker.

While Roseman’s move was smart, the Cowboys and Giants also played their hands well.

Let’s recap the gambling-draft-swapping connection.

Did the Eagles and Cowboys really swap picks?

Between picks nine and 10, Roseman finalized a swap with the Cowboys, the sixth draft-day trade between the teams since 1989.

The Eagles wanted Smith, who led the NCAA in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856), and receiving TDs (23) last season.

He dropped on the board and was the third receiver selected behind LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle because of concerns over his weight, 166. But Smith provides help at a position the Eagles have struggled at since they took Jeremy Maclin in 2009.

The Eagles were not going to wait for the Giants on Smith, especially when surprises provided a trading partner.

The Cowboys were open to the change because defensive players Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, whom they rated highly, were taken just in front of them by the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, respectively.

Back-to-back cornerbacks? What were those odds?

The Cowboys thus went down two spots, banked a late future pick, and used the 12th selection to take Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

Good play.

The Giants, presumably beaten to Smith, traded down and let the Chicago Bears take Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at 11.

The Giants later selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney at 20.  Toney has some stylistic similarity to Smith, implying that when the Giants could not get the Heisman Trophy winner, they obtained some future leverage via picks for a receiver who plays like him.

The G-Men may love this move in the future.  They gain a fifth-round pick this year and a first and fourth-round selection next year. Between Toney and off-season pickup Kenny Golladay, the league’s weakest 2020 offense added firepower.

Which direction were Eagles bettors leaning?

Did Roseman’s move save the Smith pick?

DraftKings Sportsbook provided Play NJ with betting data suggesting he would.

Here is the betting breakdown from hours before the start of the NFL Draft, when the Birds were slated to pick 12th:

  • Kwity Paye 24% at a sizzling +1400
  • Horn garnered 22% at +250
  • Waddle earned 17% of the handle at +500
  • Smith nailed 12% of the funds at +350

It was apparent t Smith either would not be there or would be passed over.

Giants bettors had already banked on Smith.

He was the go-to guy, meriting   23% of the money at +250.

Offensive lineman Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern took home 14% at +500.

Waddle was 13% at +500.

Eagles bettors received an unexpected gift with the trade.

Giants bettors most likely were burned.

And some BetMGM gamblers gained a possible gift from the heavens.

Waddle and Smith were +350 to be taken in the Top 10. Waddle went sixth to the Miami Dolphins. Had the Cowboys stayed 10th and selected a defensive player, as expected, this bet loses. But it’s a big collection instead.

Some of the most gratifying collections are ones gamblers back into.

FanDuel Sportsbook bettors will echo that sentiment. Smith returned a sweet +430 as the first player taken for the Eagles.

Eagles and Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL Draft

For those wondering if the 2021 NFL Draft was the first time the Eagles selected a Heisman winner, the answer is no.

But here’s the correct answer that makes a great trivia question: Philadelphia was the first team ever to draft the Heisman Trophy recipient. That was Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago in 1935.

In 1938, they selected Heisman winner Davey O’Brien from Texas Christian.

And now, it’s Smith.

Recapping the NFL Draft first-round turning points

The third pick, after Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the New York Jets went as planned, indicated bettors had picked up a vibe.  Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was heavily favored to be taken by the San Francisco 49ers. But heavy late action came in on Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

The combination of last week’s odds being at+175 and an ESPN endorsement pointed toward a buy sign. BetMGM reported he’d gone from +240 to -140 in the past 24 hours.

The late money was on the money.

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts going fourth to the Atlanta Falcons gives quarterback Matt Ryan a terrific tight end to throw to.

The fifth pick, considered a referendum on the Cincinnati Bengals’ commitment to offensive line help, was reflected in a William Hill prop bet.

Its bettors were divided 51%-49% in favor of Chase going under 5.5 rounds, at -145. It was the closest split on the book’s overall props and reflected a debate.

The Bengals needed offensive line help and looked slated to take Oregon lineman Penei Sewell. But they opted for Chase, an excellent playmaker and probably the best wide receiver in the field.

Plus, Chase is now reunited with LSU teammate and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

After the Miami Dolphins took Waddle sixth and the Detroit Lions selected Sewell seventh, Carolina and Denver made defensive selections that surprised people.

And Roseman called a new play.

The Panthers, the Broncos, and the Roseman deal helped another team too. The New England Patriots got Jones, who fell all the way to 15th.

He may end up being the steal of the draft.



Photo by AP/Tony Dejak
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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