Scouting Report: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
He scores touchdowns, and that's unlikely to change
At Rotobahn, we make no secret of our respect for Urban Meyer and his ability to teach fundamental football. He also recruits some of the best and toughest athletes around, which brings us to Devin Smith, a player who might be a bit misunderstood as a prospect. Smith is brimming with talent and it’s easy to spot on the film that you’ll see later in this report. Smith is a receiver who truly takes the top off the defense. Even the strong armed quarterbacks at Ohio State have trouble getting the ball out in front of Smith when he turns on the jets.
As I said, examples of Smith’s speed are easy to find, and he’ll make the spectacular grab as well. This is a receiver who, in our estimation, is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can become.
Smith's combine presser had a few good tidbits. On getting off the line of scrimmage…..
“Speed is obviously a key point in releasing from the line. You don’t want to spend too much time at the line, especially if you have an aggressive corner who’s trying to jam you. It’s all about using your hands to get the defender off of you and you use your speed as well. It’s very important to be physical as well as being fast.”
On what his new team will be getting….
“They’re getting a guy who can run, is willing to learn, does whatever he can to help the team win no matter if it’s on offense or on special teams”
On tracking the deep ball….
“Really it’s just pure concentration. A lot of it had to do when I high-jumped throughout my whole career, at Ohio State and high school, the small details of making sure that your steps were always right and it kind of carried over to the football field. Just pure concentration – make sure your eyes follow the ball.”
As I said in the opening, Smith’s been well coached, and the quality coaching started in his junior year of high school when he switched to Massillon, one of the better high school football programs you’ll find. Smith, in a football sense, has been raised right, and it shows on his game film.
“I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. I lived there until my sophomore year of high school. After my sophomore year I moved to Massillon, Ohio, where my dad is from. We moved there because my grandmother was getting sick before she passed away in 2012. My dad wanted us to be close to my grandmother while she was ill. It kind of worked out with going to Massillon with the great football program they had.”
- Height - 6’0”
- Weight - 196
- Hand - 9”
- Arm - 31”
- Bench - 10
- 40 - 4.42
- Vertical Jump - 39”
- Broad Jump - 10’2”
- 20 Yd Shuttle - 4.15
It was about what you’d expect from Smith. We expected a faster 40 time and we think he’s faster than 4.42 on film, but you see the explosiveness in his vertical and broad jumps. This was mostly an exercise in confirmation.
Size - Smith has some size to him at 196 pounds. He’s not a flea like DeSean Jackson or T.Y. Hilton—giving him more ability in terms of hand-fighting and bodying NFL corners.
Speed - We don’t think the combine time does Smith justice. He flashes better than 4.42 speed on film. He’s a red light performer.
Hands - Very underrated area of his game. Smith makes a lot of different catches. He tracks the ball exceedingly well whether it be in front of him or over the shoulder.
Ball skills - Once the ball is in the air, you won’t see a better, more tenacious, receiver in this draft than Smith. He gets his head turned early and attacks the football. Smith is fearless in a crowd and he handles downfield contact much better than your typical speed receiver. Coach Turner and I call him the Crazy Joe DaVola of the 2015 draft because he enjoys and invites conflict. This guy has kiboshed before, and he will … kibosh again.
Routes - This is a common area of criticism for Smith, but we see a player who runs clean routes and who has the ability to get a lot better. Smith demonstrates the ability to work back to the quarterback consistently. He strikes fear in defenders and despite being given a large cushion with regularity, he is still able to get over the top. One of the reasons for this is the way he gets out of his breaks. Defenders respect this and that’s why Smith’s double move can be so devastating. Smith may not run the full tree, but he’s on his way, and the routes he does run, are run well.
Release - Smith explodes off of the line. He chews up cushion in a flash and gets defenders on their heels. While we have some questions about how he'll handle press corners at the next level, those corners have plenty to worry about themselves. Smith is a truly explosive athlete who should be able to make the transition. If there is a red flag in this area, it would be Smith's less than stellar performance on the bench at the combine. Increasing his upper body strength will be a priority.
Versatility - Smith will be a more versatile receiver than most folks are giving him credit for, but he’s also a valuable asset on special teams.
Production - Smith’s statistics are important to understand. You might question why he caught so few balls, but this is more about the Ohio State offense than Smith. It’s not a high-volume passing attack. The numbers to focus on are Smith’s absurd 28.2 yards per reception as a senior and his 20 touchdowns over the last two seasons. This kid did his job as a Buckeye.
This is a good game to focus on because you see Smith work some underneath routes against a good defense and face some press coverage as well. This play is a good example of Smith’s route discipline. Notice how he keeps his route at the numbers—giving himself some room towards the sideline to make the play. Plenty of NFL receivers struggle with this concept and will drift towards the boundary. This is another example of how fundamentally sound Smith is. He knows how to set up defenders.
Along with Phillip Dorsett, Smith is our favorite deep threat in this year’s class, and that’s really saying something because this class has more than its share of home run hitters. Smith may not be a huge fantasy asset from day one, but we see him as a player who will thrive in the NFL because he’s already doing things at the NFL level. The key for Smith will be to expand his repertoire and become a complete receiver.
He’d be a great fit for teams who need a field-stretcher.
If he lands with a team like the one’s listed above, he’ll have a role from the get-go, and as I said, we expect him to expand his game as a pro. Within a few seasons Smith could become a household name in the right offense. He’s a unique combination of game-ready talents and unexplored ceiling.
I look forward to updating Smith’s value in our post-draft rookie rankings.
More 2015 Scouting Reports:
- Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
- Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
- Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
- Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
- Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
- Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
- TJ Yeldon, RB, Alabama
- Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
- Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
- 2017 Playoff Rankings
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 17
- Tight End Rankings Week 17
- Running Back Rankings Week 17
- Quarterback Rankings Week 17
- The Waiver Wire 12/26
- Tight End Rankings Week 16
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 16
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 16 Part Deux
- Running Back Rankings Week 16