DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Size: 6-feet and 170 pounds
Age: 22-years-old (11/14/1998)
Background: Growing up in Southeastern Louisiana, “Tay,” as the Amite City locals call him, always possessed athletic ambition larger than his frame. Refusing to be passed over because of his size, Smith focused on versatility, eventually playing both CB and WR while also returning kicks for his high school squad.
It was a sound strategy that led to a state championship for the Amite Warriors.
Unfortunately, they lost. But, after a 100+ yard and 2 TD effort, Smith (who, again, was on the losing team) received the Most Outstanding Player honors.
He sure does have a knack for nabbing unexpected awards after clutch performances. (More on that in a minute.)
A five-star prospect who was ranked the No. 3 WR in Louisiana by Scout, Smith received 23 offers from colleges. Much to the chagrin of Amite residents, however, he committed to Alabama … and has managed to gain the Crimson Tide some Louisiana-based fans over his time in Tuscaloosa.
As a true freshman in 2017, Smith only caught eight balls. One of them, since referred to simply as “the catch," was the game-winning grab that gifted Bama with a National Title.
That’s one way to earn more playing time.
Over the next two seasons, Smith’s involvement and subsequent stat lines blossomed. His greatest success, however, came in 2020 when he won the Heisman Trophy. Only the fourth wideout to receive the award, Smith garnered 1,856 votes ahead of QB standouts Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, and Kyle Trask. He closed out his college career with a 12-215-3 stat line in the CFP National Championship Game in which the Crimson Tide bested Ohio State, earning the school’s sixth national title under the Nick Saban era.
Pros: Incredible ball skills, consistent producer, versatile talent.
Cons: Slight build that is likely to be maxed out.
The Big Picture
Smith may be small but he’s, undoubtedly, mighty. A versatile receiver that can move all over the field, “Smitty” projects to be a successful “Z” at the next level. He’s a smooth and polished route-runner, whose understanding of technique extends beyond a “tree” and can be further utilized to manipulate opposing defenders. It is in this flustering of the opposition that Smith remains steadfast and consistent. Whether he’s challenging at the catch point or fluidly changing direction, his natural athleticism and elite ball skills make him a complete prospect.
The only potential issue is, of course, his size. He’s always been an anomaly in this regard, so it seems likely that his athleticism and football IQ will make up for a lack of bulk.
NFL Comp: Calvin Ridley
Yahoo NFL Draft expert, Eric Edholm, strongly suggested on the Rookie Snapshot Pod that Smith could fall to the Bears. As much as I hope he’s right, I just don’t see the smoothest route-runner in this year’s class staying on the board that long. Dave Gettleman has made some fantastic draft day blunders but passing on Smith would be peak foolishness, even by New York’s standards.
Speaking of draft day lunacy, Gettleman needs Daniel Jones to progress. The addition of Kenny Golladay is evidence of the organization’s commitment to its QB. Adding another pro-ready weapon like Smith would help Jones (and erase any potential excuses) while also satisfying the fan base.
With COVID-19 still likely to affect mini-camps and OTAs the opportunity to build chemistry might be delayed. I do think Smith could be fantasy relevant in his first year but his impact would likely come in the back half of the season once rhythm and rapport are firmly established.
Assuming he stays healthy, however, Smith could conservatively clear 60 catches as a member of the G-men.
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