Darnell Mooney and Isaiah Hodgins were immediate impact players during their rookie seasons in 2020. In 2019, Darius Slayton and Scott Miller were stars that were taken late. In 2018, Russell Gage was drafted late and has carved himself a role as the starting slot receiver in Atlanta. The list could go on and on with late-round receivers that have surprised and made themselves known in the NFL sooner than expected. There is plenty of day three options in this class. Perhaps the best of the bunch is Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette. The stats don’t tell the whole story with him as he dealt with mediocre quarterback play during his collegiate career.
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Name: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 186 lbs
Route Tree (8.5/10)
The speedy receiver excels in any area of the field during his routes. He can run short, intermediate, and deep routes, and he will look good doing so at any level. Smith-Marsette has great deep-threat ability thanks to his double moves on his deep routes. He uses some fake cuts and head bobs to his advantage to get the defensive back off of their game. Smith-Marsette cuts quickly at the break of his route and will create separation with ease.
Smith-Marsette struggled with the occasional drop or two during his time for the Hawkeyes. Along with that, he is a bit of a body-catcher as well. Smith-Marsette can catch passes away from his body and right on target. The occasional drop is a bit worrisome and will be slightly annoying during his rookie season if they come up in big games.
Contested Catch (8.75/10)
Despite his frame, Smith-Marsette’s contested catching is great. He can complete the catch and take a massive blow, whether it be to the head, shoulder, or chest, and still hold onto the ball. Smith-Marsette knows the hit is coming and has strong enough hands to hold onto the ball through contact and while getting smacked by an incoming defensive back or linebacker.
Smith-Marsette is a very versatile prospect. He was a slot receiver, boundary receiver, kick and punt returner and was used as the gadget weapon on screens, reverses, and other plays. He is electric with the ball in his hands and will slip through tackles using his physicality and speed. If you hit Smith-Marsette on a deep ball, he will do the rest and take it to the house. His track background and hurdling background help his contact-balance here.
Smith-Marsette ran a 13.97 in the 110-meter hurdles and is expected to run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash time. While some players don’t have the play speed shown during pro days and combine workouts, Smith-Marsette does. He is the fastest player on the field, and if he sees a crease, he will take it and potentially take it to the house immediately.
Smith-Marsette is very crisp in his routes and his body control. His experience with hurdles helps him when he is knocked off balance at the break in his route and the catch point. He never breaks stride, and he is easily one of the best deep-threats in the class.
Perhaps Smith-Marsette’s biggest weakness is his release off of the line of scrimmage. When he is faced with off or bail coverage, he can easily work his way through the defense. Against press coverage, he struggles greatly. Whenever someone contacts him right off the snap, he has a hard time gaining any sort of advantage, and his timing in his route is disrupted. Iowa sent him in a lot of motions so he could get matchups with defensive backs that were playing off coverage.
Vertical Receiving (9.25/10)
Again, Smith-Marsette is one of the best deep-threats in the draft class. His speed, paired with his elite route running and ball skills, makes him a dynamic playmaker down the field. If the quarterback puts the ball on him, it’s over. Smith-Marsette can make a defensive back have nightmares with his double moves and game-breaking speed down the field.
Smith-Marsette was a track star that excelled in hurdles, which has translated to the game of football. When he is knocked off balance, Smith-Marsette can regain his balance with ease and keep his feet churning and not lose speed in his after-catch process. He can run through defenders with the ball in his hands as he maintains his balance. He works his way through the rest of the defense on his way to the endzone.
Unfortunately, Smith-Marsette doesn’t appear to want to block. A lot of times he jogs and gets a hand on the defensive back but won’t force him one way or the other. His poor blocking skills paired with his minimal release against press coverage put his play strength into question, but his contested catch grade is good, so it’s confusing.
Smith-Marsette’s injury history is clean besides one incident. After scoring a touchdown against Wisconsin in 2020, he front-flipped into the endzone and landed awkwardly on his ankle, causing an injury. The injury resulted in him missing the rest of the season.
Well, add another receiver to my “my-guy” list. Smith-Marsette is easily one of the most underrated prospects in the class. His recent injury paired with his DUI in November could cause a bit of a fall, but any team in the NFL should be able to find some role for him. Smith-Marsette doesn’t have many weaknesses besides his release against press coverage, run blocking, and inconsistent catching in some situations, so it is questionable why some sites have him so low. In a class that has Kadarius Toney likely going in the first round, along with Rondale Moore and Amari Rodgers in rounds two and three, Smith-Marsette could be the steal of the draft on day three.
Final Grade (80.5/100): Early Third Round