There is a saying, made famous in a letter between Benjamin Franklin and Jean-Baptiste Le Roy that states, ‘Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. This statement is repeated and reused throughout history, with people always adding humourous additions to edit it to a given situation. I would like to offer you a new addition to this statement which I believe to be true.
In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and a draft day slide.
We see it every year, players enter the college offseason, preparing for the NFL Draft. They are now scrutinised by 32 teams, the media, and millions of fans under the biggest of magnifying glasses to find any blemish on the spotless college career they have created. Player rise and players fall in the Draft, but there is always one player who starts the offseason as a guaranteed top 5 pick and then he starts to slide.
Well, I offer you my pick for the inevitable slide for the 2021 NFL Draft, DeVonta Smith.
That’s right, you heard my correctly, the reigning Heisman trophy winner is my pick for the player most likely to take the slide down the draft, and I have my reasons. Now I would like to preface this article by saying, I am not debating his ability to play at the highest level. What I am saying though is I believe that the player once projected at Number 3 overall to Miami might not leave the green room on day 1.
Day 1 competition
Depending on who you speak to will give you an idea of how Smith’s value will look coming into Draft night, however the level of competition for Receivers in this Draft is something that will push Smith down the first round. Players like Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts and Jaylen Waddle are already talked about as being as good if not better than Smith and all three are more prototypical fits in the NFL.
Smith is also in a class with Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney, Terrace Marshall Jr and Rondale Moore, who while not as traditionally ‘talented’ as him have very different games. The NFL draft is about need and while the teams preach the idea of the best player available, if someone fits your system you grab them with both hands.
DeVonta Smith is not your typical NFL player, pure and simple, he just is not built that way. Wait, but what does that even mean, there is no such thing as a typical NFL player, look in the locker room and the entire place is built differently. The thing that makes Smith standout though is that he is very thin, weighing in recently at 170 pounds for his official pro day weight. His 6ft 1 frame makes him seem even slimmer too.
Why does this matter for a person affectionately known as the slim reaper though, as clearly, he does not seem to mind the persona that comes with the image. Let’s be honest, it absolutely does not matter, we have seen that he can play, and that is all he needs to do, his height and weight should not matter, but it does. NFL teams will look at him and they will be concerned about his durability. There are only 32 picks in the first round, it only takes 5 or 6 teams to be concerned before his name is not called on day 1.
The Loudest Absence
Alabama is having a 2-day pro day, to make sure that everyone gets there chance to impress the NFL teams and really lay down their marker for April. DeVonta Smith weighed in, and that is the end of his pro day. It is a decision he has made, and he will stand by this, he will not work out at his pro day. The man just won the Heisman trophy, the first Receiver to do this since 1991 and he posted ridiculous numbers.
What then is the problem? Well, this is Draft time, everyone has completely forgotten about the season already. The whole of the NFL fandom has forgotten that Ja’Marr Chase opted out of the season after he posted some workout videos in the offseason of him looking as dominant as ever. They are newer and fresher in the fans mind; therefore they are more relevant. This is an irrational attitude to take, however it is one we see every year.
Like a red flag to a Bull
Honestly for me there were not any obvious ones, until this past week, when DeVonta Smith opted out of his pro day workouts. He choose to weigh in which put him lighter than his projected 175-pound weight and he was measured at 6ft 1. This is small for an NFL receiver, but he could easily prove all the doubters wrong, except he is not going to work out, instead referring teams to the wonderful season he just had as proof he can do it.
That is great, and the game tape he has presented is truly dominant, however teams want to see you on their terms, in front of their scouts. For perspective on this one, Trevor Lawrence worked out at his pro day. This may have been to benefit his receivers; however all eyes were on him. This is a man who has been the number 1 overall pick since high school, and he still worked out in full. Forgoing this pro day is Smith’s choice, but it feels like a big red flag to teams looking for the new number one guy.
On the surface it looks like a player saying I have nothing prove to you, when in reality, every single player to play in the NFL has had something to prove every single day of their career.
The difficulty in this situation is, DeVonta Smith has absolutely nothing left to prove about whether he can play the game. The man is a two time National Champion, a National Championship Offensive MVP, a Heisman Winner, a Maxwell award winner, a Walter Camp award winner, a Biletnikoff award winner, a Paul Hornung award winner, the AP College Football Player of the year, the Sporting News College Football player of the year, a Unanimous All-American, the SEC Offensive player of the year and a two time First Team All-SEC player, and yet…
The only thing anyone will see from this weekend onward is that he chose not to work out at this pro day.
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