Our Scouting Report Series continues where we break down the top prospects for the 2021 NFL draft. Today we are talking about a Heisman Trophy winner who possesses one of the best, if not the best, route trees in the class. Before you go on, be sure to check out any of our previous scouting reports you might have missed!
Weight: 175 pounds
A Look at DeVonta Smith’s College Performance
According to 247 Sports, DeVonta Smith was a 5-star recruit, the 2nd best football prospect in the state of Louisiana and the 3rd best wide receiver recruit in the nation. After initially committing to Georgia, Smith eventually chose Alabama as part of a top-notch recruiting class for Nick Saban. A class that included Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.
Despite coming to the Tide as a big play receiver with great ball skills, Smith only caught 8 balls for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns while playing every game during his freshman season. From Julio Jones, to Amari Cooper to Calvin Ridley, the amount of star receivers Smith played behind is beyond impressive. His most notable play during his freshman campaign came from a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa on the first play of overtime.
While Smith made his case as being one of the top big game receivers in college football, there always seemed to be a shadow cast over DeVonta Smith during his time at Alabama.
He was rarely seen as the team’s #1 option, which finally came after a season ending injury to Jaylen Waddle (broken ankle). Smith finished his senior season with 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, 23 touchdowns and the most 200-plus receiving yard performances in Alabama history.
DeVonta Smith’s knack for the big play shined during the 2020 national championship game against Ohio State. DeVonta Smith ended his tenure at Alabama with a bang. 12 receptions, 215 yards and 3 touchdowns in the national championship game in one half of football. Smith left the game early in the 3rd quarter due to injury, but his imprint was already made.
DeVonta Smith ended his Alabama career with the 5th most receiving touchdowns (46) and 23rd most receiving yards (3,965). He may not be the biggest, fastest or strongest, but his imprint on the college field will never be forgotten.
Current Draft Projection
- The Athletic’s Dane Brugler – 3rd
- NFL Analyst Daniel Jeremiah – 6th
- NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks – 16th
- CBS Sports’ Chris Trapaso – 3rd
Loves the Big Game: You simply cannot measure DeVonta Smith’s competitive spirit. As mentioned earlier, this is a wide receiver who has had to prove himself against some of the best wide receivers in college football history. This is the “Kobe” of wide receivers. He’s got elite ball skills down the field that allows him to easily track, locate and adjust to the ball in the air. DeVonta Smith has shown again and again that he’s not afraid of the lime light, having many of his best games against the highest level of competition.
Smooth, Fluid and Versatile: Smith’s route running is incredible and he simply ate press coverage, man matchups and zone defenses for breakfast. During his junior and senior seasons, DeVonta Smith was used at the Z (flanker) position, X (split end) and the slot. Smith routinely creates separation off the line of scrimmage and at the top of his routes. Smith is incredibly fluid in and out of breaks and possesses very good acceleration. He can hurt you in the slot or take defenses over the top with his excellent second gear. From watching tape, DeVonta Smith appears to be at his best with quick routes that allow his acceleration and precise route running to shine.
Areas to Improve Upon
Lack of Size: Despite routinely playing bigger than his size, he’s got a lean frame that could potentially limit his damage on crossing routes and the middle of the field at the next level. Smith’s lack of size could make a more scheme dependent player in the NFL. It’s possible that DeVonta Smith will struggle to win physical matchups and his lack of size and strength could also make him a liability as a blocker in the run game. It would be smart for team’s to take advantage of his full route tree and start him out at either the x or slot as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.
It’s easy to see why DeVonta Smith would be a pitch perfect fit in Philadelphia. DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor would be the perfect medicine to fix Carson Wentz. They can both line up in the x and flanker positions. They can also line up in the slot and be used in jet motion.
The Eagles weakness on the outside was a wide receiver who can beat tight coverage and get open. DeVonta Smith is the nuanced route runner that can play all over the field and help them target the intermediate area of the where they so desperately struggled. DeVonta Smith is a guy who will thrive in motion at the next level, something the Eagles need to make a focus point for Carson Wentz and the offense in 2021.
Similar to the Philadelphia Eagles and Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith projects to be an excellent pairing alongside DeVante Parker and Tua Tagovailoa. Putting such a great route runner alongside Tagovailoa is a no brainer for the Dolphins. Smith and Tagovailoa already possess chemistry and the Dolphins are looking to bring in a new offensive coordinator in 2021. The Dolphins significantly struggled in the redzone last season and DeVonta Smith would signiicanlty improve in that area.
New York Giants
The Giants would possibly have to trade up in this situation, but Daniel Jones needs a legit #1 wide receiver in 2021. Sterling Shepard is a solid #2, but Smith can pencil right in at the “X” in Joe Judge’s offense. The Giants are praying that a run of quarterbacks and offensive lineman go in the top of the first round, allowing them to nab DeVonta Smith at #11. The Giants were 29th in passing yards per game last season (189.1) and Smith would be a huge upgrade in 2021.