2021 NFL Draft Profile: DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith NFL Draft

DeVonta Smith NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 175 pounds
School: University of Alabama

DeVonta Smith 2021 NFL Draft Profile

The first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since Tim Brown, DeVonta Smith put on a show during his final season with Alabama. Smith had 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2020. During the final three games of his career, including the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff games, Smith accumulated 34 receptions, 529 yards, and six touchdowns. For his career, Smith finished as Alabama’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions (46) and yards (3,965).

It should come as no surprise that Smith found this type of success in Alabama. A five-star prospect out of Amite, Louisiana, Smith was on everyone’s radar coming out of high school. He participated in the U.S. Army All-American Game, and when he was ready to choose a college, he chose Alabama over Oklahoma, LSU, Miami (Fl.), and TCU.

Strengths

  • Makes plays in the short, medium, and deep game;
  • Lethal on crossing routes;
  • Despite superior athleticism, he doesn’t rely on just his athleticism to make plays;
  • Makes contested catches downfield;
  • Although not dominant, he is a willing blocker;
  • Creates separation with his route running as opposed to just running routes;
  • Gets open on extended plays;
  • Great body leverage to give quarterbacks windows to throw into;
  • Despite a smaller frame, he has very long arms.

Weaknesses

  • How will his size affect him at the next level?
  • Could be quicker and stronger on some releases, especially on releases to the outside;
  • May be counted on to play out of the slot; can he transition after playing mostly on the outside in college?

NFL Comparison: Stefon Diggs

Teams With Need At The Position: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Washington Football Team

Projection: First round

DeVonta Smith enters the 2021 NFL draft as one of the most productive players available. Combine that with athleticism and a high football IQ, and Smith has a chance to become a reliable NFL receiver from Day 1. While his size may scare off some teams, his ability to get open just from his route running should be intriguing, much like Diggs. Also, like Diggs, Smith has a habit of coming down with contested catches downfield that someone his size should have no business making. These attributes point to a player who can make the jump at the next level.

Still, Smith will have to prove that he can win at the line of scrimmage in the NFL. While he is great once in his route, his releases aren’t always the smoothest. With proper coaching he should be much more refined. But as it stands right now, it is a bit of a work in progress. Luckily for Smith, he isn’t the only receiver that will have to fix this issue.

Smith stands to be drafted somewhere outside of the top-10 in the draft. His size will scare enough teams away to use a top-10 pick on him, but falling into the teens or 20s could be the best-case scenario for Smith. If he enters training camp as a projected number two or three receiver, teams could use him in the role he is more comfortable with. At Alabama, he was used in motions, jet sweeps, and the screen game. If he were expected to be a number one receiver from the get-go, teams could force him into being something that he is not. In his expected role, though, Smith looks to be a player who can contribute from day one, and become a top-tier product within three years.

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