Eagles Hoping Torrey Smith Regains his Baltimore Form
Torrey Smith has always been thought of as a burner, with good reason, he entered the league out of the University of Maryland running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. Smith was a standout for the Terrapins, where he hauled in 152 catches for 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns, which led to him getting drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft.
"Torrey is a player that I've had my eye on ever since his Maryland days," Eagles vice-president of player personnel Joe Douglas said back in March when the Eagles signed Smith.
The speedster stands 6-feet tall and had a tremendous run of success as a member of the Baltimore Ravens from 2011-2014, but he out to prove he is more than just a one-trick pony.
"I think the other thing with Torrey that people don't realize is he's a big guy," Eagles executive vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman said in March. "People when they think of just vertical threats, guys who can take the top off, they think of smaller guys, but he's a physically tough guy, as well, and I think when people see him out there and how he plays and that kind of edge, you see it over a period of time, led the league in pass interference yards, I think that's the other thing when you talk about Torrey to bring into the equation."
As a rookie, Smith had a franchise record 50 catches, 841 yards, and seven touchdowns, but continued to produce, posting solid seasons from 2012-2014, recording a combined 163 catches for 2,750 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith was looking like a breakout receiver for the Ravens, before leaving for free agent riches in San Francisco, inking a five-year, $40 million contract ($22 million guaranteed) in the spring if 2015.
The 49ers were hoping that Smith could be the big-play speedster he was in Baltimore, but he never really fulfilled the promise he should with the Ravens. He struggled during his two season in a San Francisco offense that was going through changes at the quarterback position with just 53 catches, 930 yards and seven scores.
"You know, I can't speak about his personal experience in San Francisco, and I don't want to throw any other team under the bus from a performance standpoint," Douglas stated. "Obviously his targets fell down. I think his down-the-field targets fell down and production fell down, as well. So that was probably the main thing I saw.
Meanwhile the Eagles are hoping he can be impactful once again, signing him to a one-year, $5 million deal back in Match. It’s the latest attempt by the Eagles to improve one of the worst receiving corps in football, by adding Smith, an intriguing speedster, they are looking for the down-the-field threat they lacked the past two season.
By adding the 28-year-old Smith, the Eagles have not only added a quality leader for their locker room, twice being named his team’s NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, but also a player who can potentially be a threat down-the-field.
"You know, I just hope this city knows that they're getting a resilient person," Douglas explained. " A great teammate, a person who shows up in big games when it matters most, a guy that's definitely going to help this offense as far as taking the top off of defenses."
During his time in Baltimore, Smith caught 30 regular-season TDs, marking the second-highest total in franchise history. In 2015, his 20.1 yards-per-reception average led all NFL players with at least 30 catches.
In addition to Smith, the Eagles' receiving group also features Alshon Jeffery, a free agent addition, and a pair of draft picks in Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, and a trio of holdovers from last season, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham round out the group.
While Jeffery might be the biggest name in the mix, the Eagles have added plenty of depth at receiver. They’ve brought in several different styles, and each guy provides a different skill-set to complement the offense.
Some form of Jeffery, Smith, Matthews and a deep set of tight ends will create plenty of targets for quarterback Carson Wentz.
By adding the players they have, the Eagles have bought in plenty of competition. But of all these new additions, the Eagles hope its Smith that can return to form of the past.
Over at ESPN.com Eagles writer Tim McManus set the over/under for Smith this season at 47 catches, 820 yards and six touchdowns this season. I have said on the Sports Bash that I think Smith will have a big season with the Eagles.
The Eagles have added a good mix of guys who can all do different things, which should allow Smith to do what he does best - be a game-breaker. With Jeffery a true No. 1 type of receiver, Matthews in the slot, and Ertz a pass catching tight end, Smith should have plenty of room to pile up a big yards per catch,
I can see Smith having a year similar to the season he had during his second year in Baltimore, where he had 49 catches, 855 yards and eight touchdowns, getting 17.4 per grab.
Looks like I'm taking the over, the Eagles are hoping I'm right.