2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: DeVonta Smithby Brady Podloski March 20, 2021 2 comments
Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith lit the NCAA on fire this past year. With 117 receptions. 1.853 yards, and 23 touchdowns, Smith had a historically good season. From his quickness and route-running ability, few cornerbacks could guard him. His skills were showcased no better than when he went up against Ohio State in the National Championship where he put up 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Smith is a gamechanger and electric when he gets his hands on the ball. However, there are some things to note about Smith’s game, like the fact he is already 22, and Smith will likely not develop physically anymore, making the concerns about his weight (175 lbs) more troubling.
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Name: DeVonta Smith
Position: Wide Receiver
Smith looks like he runs a high 4.4s or low 4.5s for perspective. The downfield speed isn’t there, and he’s not going to run away from anyone. However, he makes effective use of his routes where he stacks defensive backs. Most importantly, there were few signs of Smith slowing down when defenders got their hands on him. Maintaining speed through contact is crucial to succeeding at the next level as defenders are stronger and faster than in NCAA.
Short area quickness and fluidity are there. He’s a functional athlete but not elite at any more thing. However, the acceleration is stunning and makes him unpredictable when running routes and when he has the ball in his hands.
Route Running/Separation (9/10)
Last year I gave a single ’10’ grade to Jerry Jeudy. Smith isn’t going to be the deadly route runner Jeudy is, but he will be effective due to the acceleration and intelligence. He has an innate ability to get open with quickness and craftiness.
Listen, this guy should be a chain mover at the NFL level in terms of hand strength and making clutch catches. On third downs with short yardage to go, Smith will be open and will also be able to correct off-target throws.
Run after Catch (9/10)
Smith has vision and short-area quickness. He sets defenders up well when he has space and can find ways to make them miss on screens and short-area routes. Teams shouldn’t necessarily build their offense around his run after the catch ability, but it has some usefulness. I question if he can utilize his run after the catch ability in tight spaces.
Contested Catch (8.5/10)
For someone who is under 175lbs, there is a strong ability to make catches that are contested. More importantly, the strength shows up when the ball is in the air, as Smith can secure catches with his strong hands. He plays strong, and this shows up in the endzone.
Body Control (9.5/10)
Watch any deep shot where Smith has to adjust the ball, and it is exceptional. He has exceptional control of his body, allowing him to get into a position to catch misplaced throws. Ball tracking and hand-eye coordination are rare and allow him to get into a position to catch any football. Each time I come back to his film, I’m more impressed with his body control.
There should be some concerns about Smith’s ability to deal with contact at the line and during the route, as he was slowed down the odd route. He’s faced bigger and stronger cornerbacks in college; however, it is fair to wonder if he can hold up to stronger players in the NFL. Overall, his quickness and suddenness in his routes are where he will win.
Smith isn’t only intelligent but crafty in his routes and when the ball is in his hands. Whether it’s setting up defenders from one route to the next, he can read defenders and coverages, allowing him to make adjustments. He should have excellent chemistry with whoever his quarterback is.
Smooth is the word that comes to mind when you watch Smith play. He looks natural at the position. His agility is stunning as he makes sudden breaks running routes and with speed routes.
Injury/ Durability (4/5)
No major injuries concerns. However, Smith is 175 lbs, where some reports suggest he is actually under 170lbs.
Smith shows good technique when blocking and can square up to defenders.
Smith is going to win with savvy routes, intelligence, awareness, body control, and quickness in the NFL. He plays with unexpected strength but was slowed down the odd time during routes, which is something to keep an eye on in the NFL. While the grades are high, there are some concerns with the size. Reports suggest he’s around 165 lbs, meaning if he does succeed in the NFL, he’ll be an outliner with his size.
Final Grade (89/100): Top 20 Pick
Player Comp: Marvin Harrison