Scouting: Devin Smith – WR, Ohio State
HT/WT: 6’ 3/8”, 190 lbs
Expected draft pick: Late first round
Devin Smith has been a contributor for the reigning National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes for all four of his years with the program. He totaled 30 TDs in his tenure and was one of the team’s top two receivers in each of his four seasons. His senior year saw him go for 33 catches, 931 yards and 12 scores. For the math majors that is an astounding 28.12 yards per catch. What does that tell you? He’s a home run hitter.
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In addition to football prowess, Smith also was a three year star on the track team, exceling in sprints and high jump.
Another thing I love in any prospect is how you perform on the big stage. Well for starters, he scored three times against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game on plays of 39, 44, and 42 yards. He also had just one other catch in the game that didn’t go for a TD.
Smith has straight line speed as evident by some of the clips you’ll see here. But he also needs to develop the underneath routes. He showed a little of this at the Senior Bowl, but still struggled. He needs to add more of the route tree to his repertoire in order to be considered a serious prospect, but his speed, hands, and leaping ability will certainly play at the next level.
Part of why he doesn’t necessarily run crisp routes is because he isn’t really asked to. He runs straight. And most routes for him that aren’t “9” variety, are plays where the other receivers clear out the man coverage on his side leaving him open for easy pitch and catches. The Ohio State scheme that allowed them to outscore a prolific offense in Oregon, and rack up points against SEC defenses like Alabama, was perfect for him. But they don’t run these offenses in the NFL often. The Patriots like to spread it out and run the ball from spread formations, and take the deep shot after they lull you to sleep after the 23rd two yard pass in a row to Julian Edleman. But most schemes, certainly the Ravens, I don’t see the fit. I don’t see him creating space for himself against better defensive backs at the pro level.
I really would have liked to seen Devin Smith matched up with mid-first round prospect, Trae Waynes, CB, in the Michigan State game, but it wasn’t the case.
Here are some clips that possess good and bad traits of Devin Smith.
Starting with the Michigan State game, a nice over the shoulder grab, and a real nice back shoulder throw where only Smith will catch it. Although, I’m not a fan of the way he allows the defender to get between him and the ball so easily. A better, faster pro corner, may have gotten his head around and if not for a perfect throw picked that one off. Also, by getting inside position on the corner, the safety likely drifts over to help sooner, leaving the slot man (#2) wide open potentially for a TD.
On one of the shorter routes I’ve found run by Smith, it happens to be a red zone attempt he scores a TD on. I’m a little worried about the route running ability of Smith. Look at how rounded off this one is. He doesn’t stick that foot in and turn on that 90 degrees. Rounding off his route like that will allow pro DBs to close in quicker on the route, and not allow him to gain much separation. You can get away with raw speed against Illinois. Good job on the scheme as well. Trips, three WRs versus three DBs, and two OSU wideouts ended up wide open.
Here is a TD, that was much harder than it needed to be. It’s a great play by Smith, but the trail receiver (#15) was he supposed to end up in the same spot as Smith? Was Smith supposed to run a flag route once he sold the inside route to the DB? Either way, Smith picked up the ball in the air quickly, and if he continued his flag route (back corner of the endzone), the ball would have fallen severely underthrown. He picked up the ball and slowed his route, regained position, and went for the ball in traffic. Well done.
This one is the best of bunch. Smith fights off a mugging by the Wisconsin DB and still has the strength to hang on. I’ve seen a lot less called defensive pass interference in the pro game. For good measure I believe he has two feet down and possession rather than the required one foot college mandates.
– Leaping ability is strong for a six footer
– High points the ball
– Solid hands
– Experience, four year contributor
– Big play capability
– Needs to do more than run “9” routes
– Concerns going over the middle
– Will take plays towards the sidelines
– Shy to run block
– Not pro-ready right away
Overall: Devin Smith has the big play capability, and it’s possible that his Big Ten title game explosion in front of the football world helped propel him up to the first round billing. But for a raw guy that will take some tweaking to make NFL ready, other than running fast, I’m not sure I take a first round pick, even a late one on Devin Smith. Speed is good, but CBs in the NFL are faster too. For the Ravens sake, I don’t see him as a fit in their West Coast system. It requires crisp route running which he definitely does not, ability to run routes underneath which he hasn’t shown yet, and an ability to run block on those stretch run plays, which he will shy away from. As I mentioned before, the Patriots might be a fit with the need for deep threat, and at #32 Smith could be had. But if he goes to another team any earlier than #32, I’d call it a mistake. The first round grade is too high.