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Who is… Devonta Smith?

NFL Prospect Profiles #1 Devonta Smith. I want to bring light to some of the guys that’ll be suiting up for your teams next season. Personally, draft night is my favourite night of the year. And that’s because I sit down with an understanding for a lot of the players who’s lives are about to change forever, and it helps me appreciate the deeper meaning of the NFL draft. It’s not simply, ‘who will the Dolphins select?’ and then once made clear turning the TV off and going to bed. It’s knowing what these guys went through to get to where they are, and enjoying the draft from start to finish as they achieve their lifelong dream. Disclaimer. I am not an NFL scout, these are simply my humble opinions on some of the talent heading to the league this year.

Devonta Smith – WR Alabama

Now Nick Sabans Alabama has been a total machine in delivering talent to the league. In the 2020 draft the Crimson Tide had 9 players selected across the seven rounds, including Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs etc. Alabama also leads the NFL in players currently representing their college’s. They had 56 players on active NFL rosters when the numbers were clocked in early September. Those include some of the stars of the league, such as Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Amari Cooper, Julio Jones, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Marlon Humphrey, Calvin Ridley, Landon Collins…

They could fill a Pro Bowl all by themselves.

So as this regular season draws to it’s conclusion we’re ready for another whole list of names to head to the league from the most productive college in the country, and the first off the board for the Tide should absolutely be Devonta Smith.

Smith is the guy who caught the touchdown from Tua in the extremely famous playoff game against Georgia. You know the walk off touchdown for the win game that drew so much attention to Tua and put his name on the map.

Background

Devonta Smith was born in Louisiana, and went to high school in Amite City. His decision to go to Alabama therefore came as a surprise to many who thought he’d stay close to home and play for LSU. Smith was the 9th ranked wide receiver prospect in the country coming out of high school which drew attention from tonnes of big schools. His biggest asset being his reliable hands, he was recruited by the likes of Georgia, Florida State, Auburn, Baylor etc, all of which offered him a scholarship.

Of course, it’s hard to decline Alabama, as Nick Saban has such a great reputation for building successful NFL athletes. One of the titans of recruiting, Smith wasn’t put off by the competition he would face for reps, and made his commitment in 2017.

As a freshman, he caught that pass in the National Championship game, and put himself on the map.

THAT catch.

College

Smith is one of those college prospects who you seem to have known for years. Likely because his name came up in such a major way during that game in his freshman year, it seems strange we’re still talking about him now as a college prospect.

Smith played with Jalen Hurts, then Tua, and this season Mac Jones as the starters for the Tide, and his production has improved each and every year. As his team mates head to the NFL, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy this season, and in previous seasons the likes of Calvin Ridley, it’s finally the season for DeVonta Smith to be the guy.

It was Smith’s decision to stay for his senior season and bet on himself this year, when he could have gone to the league last season. And so far, it’s working out very well for him…

Quarterback Mac Jones has his go to guy and the stats display that in an alarming way. Smith currently has 80 receptions for 1,305 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season, through nine games. Including a 203 yard, 4 touchdown game against Mississippi State on the 31st October. He’s already ahead of his numbers in 2019, as you can see below, which is even more impressive considering Alabama has played all of it’s games this year against SEC competition, due to the leagues COVID restrictions, which ruled you wouldn’t be able to play against outside of Conference competition. The SEC is highly regarded as the most competitive conference in college football, so Smiths numbers stand out just that little bit more.

He also crushed LSU this season… as you’ll see here:

In this highlight video alone he shows the ability to throw himself into contact for extra yards, take a big hit over the middle and hold onto the ball, and blow the lid off the defence entirely, and how about the catch at the end of the half.

Amazingly, the amount of highlights of Smith being the furthest down the field is astounding. Covering him one on one doesn’t seem to be an option, and he’s as sure handed as he was coming out of high school. He has long arms, and at 6’1 175 pounds should transition well into the league.

I’m no scout, but you can read his draft profile here on The Draft Network

They talk about his route running and ability to get beyond a man, with soft hands, all of which making him a reliable receiver for any quarterback. They have his only real con down as being slim, which I understand. He needs to pack on a little muscle as he heads to the NFL which I don’t see being much of a problem, those NFL teams will feed you up if they need to!

He’s touted as a leader, and HC Nick Saban had this to say when asked if he was the best in the nation this season:

“I don’t see every player play in the country. I love Smitty. I think he’s an outstanding player for our team,” Saban said, via Saturday Down South. “He’s probably done as much this year for our team as any player that we’ve ever had. He’s a great leader on the team. It’s not fair to compare him to somebody else that you didn’t even see, but I don’t think there’s many players in the country that have done more for their team than Smitty does for our team.”

I’d compare him to Stefon Diggs. Route running is exceptional, he’s not the fastest man in the league but knows how to get himself open, and your quarterback can look for him if he needs to get out of trouble. Throwing him a ball in a tight window, as a quarterback, you know you can rely on him to secure it. All of that while he’s also always a threat for a big play deep down the field. I’ll be interested to see what his 40 time is when it comes to the combine, and would like to see him emerge as a solid NFL prospect.

Draft?

His performance this season will have him go in the first round, you can count on that. But where do I see him fitting in? I think he’ll be a mid round pick in the first round, and therefore I think he’ll end up somewhere like Philly.

The Eagles drafted Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts in this years drafts’ first two round. Hurts knows Smith well and as former team mates it would be interesting to have them link up again in Philadelphia.

It’s well known that the offence in Philly is lacking a spark, and with Jalen Reagor being a good start, and all about the speed, DeVonta Smith would compliment him nicely. Jalen Hurts may well end up the starter for the Eagles, but we won’t speculate on that. Either way Smith is a good option for them as they look to rebuild their offence around Miles Sanders and Jalen Reagor. Both Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson are into their 30s and can’t stay healthy, which is causing problems for the Eagles and making their offence look extremely bad.

and finally, here’s a highlight compilation for you…

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1 comment

Let's close off this Tua vs Mac Jones Nonsense... - Undrafted - The Network 5th March 2021 at 10:26 am

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