2021 NFL Draft Profile: WR Devonta Smith
If you value college production above all else, Devonta Smith should be No. 1 overall on your NFL Draft Big Board.
Smith is coming off of arguably the greatest CFB season of all time, and he was given the Heisman Trophy in 2020 because of it. In 13 games, Smith reeled in 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Those numbers are insane on their own, but they’re even more impressive when you consider Smith’s athletic profile.
At 6’1/170 pounds, Smith shouldn’t be as dominant as he is in college football. Most of the SEC corners are bigger and more physical than him, but it didn’t matter. Smith still somehow kept winning one-on-one matchups over these dynamic athletes. Aided by long arms, Smith plays like he’s 30 pounds heavier and four inches taller. He possesses an unreal ability to go up and highpoint the football over much taller defenders and make some highlight-reel grabs.
The production profile is all there to indicate that Smith will be a slam dunk prospect, but will his frame get in the way of that happening? Will he be drafted high enough to be given an opportunity to succeed?
These questions are answered here in our scouting profile on Devonta Smith:
Weight: 175 lbs.
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Route Running (77): He’s not the biggest receiver on the field, but he plays like he’s 30 pounds and 6 inches bigger. Smith is an excellent route-runner from every area of the field. He’s constantly moved around the formation and plays everywhere from the slot to out wide on the line of scrimmage. He still has room to grow as far as adding refinement within his routes, but he didn’t need it in CFB to be successful. He possesses a great ability to throttle down and snap his hips to come back to the football.
Athleticism/Agility (78): Incredibly athletic and agile for his size and can create separation at nearly every level of the field because of his burst.
Hands (83): Tremendous hands. He rarely drops a pass and can bring in some ridiculously tough catches. Incredible hand-eye coordination, and he’s able to make some jaw-dropping contested catches when you factor in his size.
Contested Catch Ability (80): Able to go up and highpoint the football incredibly well and also catch in traffic over the middle of the field. The latter will be a valuable trait that can compensate for his lack of size. An NFL team can move him into the slot to keep his frame clean of press coverage on the line and still feel comfortable using him due to his ability to hold onto the ball through contact.
Run After Catch Ability (79): Possesses great awareness and athleticism to be a threat after the catch too. Able to break away from defenders with his burst and acceleration. Long strides allow him to pick up momentum and simply outrun defenders after the catch.
Release (75): Good release at the LOS, but he’s often moved off the formation or constantly in motion pre-snap. He still has room to grow if he’s going to be asked to line up on the scrimmage and beat DBs that are much bigger than him in press coverage. He’ll be best utilized if he’s able to be lined up in the slot and off the line of scrimmage.
Deep Ball Tracking (77): Great ability to track the ball deep downfield and make a play. He’s often wide open downfield due to his separating ability but can struggle to box out or go over a defender if the DB has inside positioning. This is to be expected, though, given his size limitations.
Speed (79): Fantastic straight-line speed and should run very well at his Pro Day, which he’ll need to keep his draft stock high due to the concerns over his weight.
Devonta Smith’s ability to reel in contested catches is absurd when you factor in his size.
He can truly do it all. pic.twitter.com/M5ZU2VgThd
– Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 14, 2021
– The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 23, 2021
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
Smith’s draft stock is a bit of an enigma. Based on his pure talent, Smith could push for the No. 1 overall pick. He’s been that dominant in college, and he’s coming off of arguably the greatest season of all time for a CFB WR. However, Smith’s physical measurements might cause teams to back off slightly. At his size, there are not many previous examples to look back on over the course of NFL history to justify selecting Smith with a top-15 pick. He probably goes top-15 in the NFL Draft at the end of the day due to his potential. But it’s hard to say that right now with any sort of certainty.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
Essentially every team could use a player like Smith and what he brings to the table. However, not every team is going to get the chance to select him. He’s going to go off the board – most likely – in the top-15 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, limiting the number of teams eligible for this section. As far as a pure ideal landing spot for fantasy football, it’s the same answer as Jaylen Waddle. Reuniting Tua Tagovailoa with Smith is the best option for Smith’s fantasy outlook. He’d be able to line up in the slot and be a three-level threat from this area of the field. Smith should be viewed as a locked-in top-40 WR for 2021 redraft purposes if this is the landing spot.
When watching Smith on tape, it’s hard not to connect the dots and compare him to Marvin Harrison. Harrison played at a smaller size in the NFL, but they didn’t hinder his effectiveness. He understood how to get open and create separation consistently, which Smith will bring to the table. They play the game a similar way. Now it’s just up to Smith to see if he can leave a similar impact on the game that Harrison did.
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