2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Shi Smithby Alex Barbour February 1, 2021 1 comment
Shi Smith is a true highlight-reel player. His acrobatic catches are rivaled by few, and the select few routes he is comfortable doing are dangerous. There is an enormous amount of hype on this player, especially with his Senior Bowl aggressive catch; however, there are plenty of red flags that might warrant taking the foot off the gas a little bit. Is the hype legitimate or just buzz?
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Name: Shi Smith
Position: Wide Receiver
School: South Carolina
Weight: 186 lbs
Right off the bat, Smith tends to flash good hands and extremely marginal ones in every game. He only has 12 drops on over 200 catchable passes, but his dropped passes are worrisome. The drops for Smith are usually wide-open passes that should be very easy completions. Another report indicated that his hands have been misaligned from time to time, which causes catching errors. Although this is a huge issue, and it must be fixed, an hour on the jugs machine each day might be able to fix this in no time. Remember: this scale uses 5.0/10 as the average for a prospect. Another note: Smith is manufactured a lot of catches behind the line of scrimmage, so his drop percentage may be skewed from easy completions.
Contested Catch (6.25/10)
For a man his size, Smith can make some acrobatic plays. From his Senior Bowl tape to his season tape, there are highlight-reel plays that stand out, unlike most other athletes. Smith has a hard time dealing with contact. This was seen multiple times, even in the Senior Bowl. In the Senior Bowl, Tre Norwood jarred the ball loose on a light hit. Dealing with contact may become an issue for Smith in the NFL.
Straight Line Speed (5.0/10)
No matter how well Smith tests, his play speed is far from spectacular. There is little to no tape showing him break away from anybody, even Marco Wilson, who locked him down in their matchup. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, because he has good enough speed, he gets a score of 5/10. In short, his speed was surprisingly disappointing.
Short Area Burst (7.25/10)
Finally, Smith gets a good score somewhere. The hype suggests this should be far from the first seven (or more), but this is how the report has gone after looking at every snap. Smith’s acceleration is solid. He has a great burst off the line of scrimmage, and he can accelerate to gain short yardage very well. This is apparent since South Carolina manufactures many passes behind the line of scrimmage so that Smith can use his burst to get a couple of guaranteed yards if not more.
After the Catch (5.0/10)
Yet another disappointing category after the highlight-reel plays suggest otherwise. There were very few broken tackles on Smith’s tape, and ankle tackles were a major threat to stopping Smith. Another huge problem is that he stands very tall, which leads to a larger target to tackle and less leverage.
Smith rarely gets stuffed at the line. Wilson is a solid corner with some press skills, and he backed off of the line of scrimmage when he lined up against Smith (although Wilson had the upper hand most of the game). He has a great set of release packages that allow him to not worry about slot corners becoming a problem at the next level. If there is a glimmer of hope (apart from insane acrobatic catches), this is it.
Route Running (2.5/10)
This is possibly the biggest disappointment of the whole scouting report. Smith runs very few routes well: most are crossing-style routes. What he does well are routes that do not require hard cuts. Watch any of his Senior Bowl plays, and his best reps (and essentially the only ones he won) were on gradual ins and skinny posts. Smith’s route running is a huge red flag because he was also dominated by all of the other corners in routes that required hard cuts. This became apparent on his tape, where curls appeared to be a problematic route for Smith to run.
Another huge red flag: he leans into routes before he even begins them. This might be the nail in the coffin. Every corner who pays attention to what the wide receiver does will know what route Smith runs before he even thinks of breaking for it. It was obvious in every route watched on tape, especially in the Senior Bowl, where DJ Daniel mirrored his comeback perfectly. In short, if Smith does not fix this flaw, he is essentially undraftable.
This score is generous. As stated prior, Smith essentially cannot run many routes at the next level. On the routes he does well, however, he can leave players in the dust. This score is hopeful that any NFL team that drafts him will be able to tweak his mechanics.
Positional Versatility (4.0/10)
Smith is strictly a slot wide receiver in the NFL. His size, combined with his lackluster ball-carrying abilities, shows that he has little to no versatility. Again, this score is generous, given he can further his route tree more.
Competitive Toughness (2/5)
Smith did not look like he gave any effort on plays that could not end up targeting him. Even engaging in blocks seemed to be a stroll in the park (in a lazy way). It just seems like Smith is selfish on the field, which of course, could be wrong (hence why it is only worth 5 points). The tape supports this score.
The injury bill is relatively clean for Smith apart from a concussion (which can happen to anyone). This score is reflective of what probably will happen in the NFL: Smith does not protect his body well at all. He stands upright and absorbs enormous blows (look at the Florida game to see him get annihilated multiple times). In the NFL, there will be harder hitters that will take every opportunity to crack an open target, which may (and will) lead to injuries if not fixed immediately.
Not to sound too harsh, but what a disappointment. With all of the hype and the highlights floating around, it is a shame to see that consistency is vacant. Whether it is in the form of drops, mentality, versatility, or many other attributes, Smith provides far greater negatives than positives. The worst thing was seeing his route running unravel into oblivion. It hurts to see such a hyped player be such a painful disappointment, but the hype is there for a reason, so of course, the future is full of hope for Smith. Only time will tell whether the red flags can be solved and if Smith’s strengths can be schemed to perfection.
Final Grade (54/100): Late Fourth Round