Jaylen Smith’s deal with the Ravens allowed him to reunite with his former quarterback from Louisville for a chance at a roster spot. Could this bring back the old spark?
Jaylen Smith was one of two players that went undrafted but received a phone call shortly after the draft ended. The other was Gerald Willis III out of the University of Miami.
Smith was a four-year starter with the Louisville Cardinals from 2015 to 2018. He excelled with Lamar Jackson at the helm, bringing in over 1,000 receiving yards in two seasons. He only recorded 376 receiving yards in his freshman year but after that, he took off. In his sophomore year in 2016, his stats almost doubled to 599 yards with six touchdowns. He averaged 22.2 yards per carry alongside Lamar Jackson, who won Heisman Trophy Award that year.
Smith’s best season was in 2017 when he recorded 60 receptions for 980 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 16.3 yards per carry. That included him missing three games due to a wrist injury. He was set to declare for the NFL draft early, along with Lamar Jackson. But he consulted with several doctors and was informed that he would not be able to give his best performance in the Combine; he would have an issue catching passes.
If a player can’t perform well at the Combine, his draft status would be affected. Smith decided to stay for another season. However, staying for another season backfired for him. With a new quarterback, his stats plummeted to 550 yards and one touchdown. The Cardinals also went 2-10 for the season, which indicates that Smith was not the only issue with the team. This speedy receiver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine. He also had a good Pro Day, performing in front of 21 team representatives.
Apparently, that was not enough to spark much interest and he went undrafted. A successful wide receiver should be able to adapt to any offensive scheme at the college level. For some reason, he could not and it became a cause for concern. Once in the NFL, he will be forced to adapt if he wants to remain on the roster.
The Ravens should use this to their advantage. They have a hungry undrafted wide receiver that has a recent positive history with Lamar Jackson. He has the right size and speed to compete in the NFL. Once he perfects his route running skills, he could become a very effective target for Jackson.