2018: Foot (Missed Two Games), High School: Tore ACL and MCL in Left Knee (Patella Tendon Graft to repair), Broken Foot
2018: Notre Dame, Washington, 2017: USC (PAC-12 Championship)
Clutch performing, rugged TE, who displays a lot of traits that will endear him quickly to a QB at the next level. Uses his strength, length, catching radius, jumping ability, and savviness to be able to come down with a ton of big-time plays. Consistent force on combative catches, and is blessed with a natural set of strong, vice-like hands. Can contribute in the running game as well, and can gain a push, and dominate smaller defenders at the second, and third levels of the defense. Hard to bring down after the catch when he has a head of steam, and will drag defenders with him. Smart, and willing to grind until he gets better at his craft.
Long-strider, who simply does not possess elite deep speed. Is at his best getting through his breaks, and getting north/south, rather than try and make plays laterally, because he is not very fluid in space. Has some history of injuries, and more background work will need done to make sure it will not impede him at the next level.
Kaden Smith was a big-lights player at Stanford, and really shined when his teammates need him the most. He is a big, burly TE, who excels at skying high, and coming down with some highlight reel catches. There will be a number of suitors lining up for his service come draft day, and he should definitely hear his name called in the 2-3 round range. Teams with interest in him include: Patriots, Texans, Chargers, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, and Seahawks. His game reminds me a lot of Tyler Eifert, with his ability to win above the rim, as well as run like a bull after the catch."
Good athleticism overall. Good speed to stretch the seam of defense, decent bulk, and great length with a huge catching radius. Strong and sure hands, as well as a tremendous ability to get vertical and come down with combat catches. Decent agility, but at his best getting a head of steam, and rumbling downhill trying to break tackles. Excellent ability to contort his body to off target throws. Shows an ability to make the highlight reel grabs consistently, by sprawling out, and securing the catch. Also showed the ability to pluck the ball away from his body, as well as the ability to make combat catches where he pins the ball on the back of defenders trying to cover him. Capable of flowing as a lead blocker on counter trap runs, and fitting on defender. Is not an elite athlete in the open field, simply does not possess a ton of shiftiness or elusiveness laterally, rather he is at his best making his break in route, and getting vertically up the field, where he can use his size, length, and jumping ability to dominate smaller defenders. Possesses explosive jumping ability, and can climb the ladder higher than most defensive backs can to go get the pass. Not an explosive mover laterally, or does he have explosive long speed, rather he is a player who uses his instincts, and bullish qualities to bully defenders away passes. Good, but not great deep speed. Can stretch the field vertically using long strides that allow him to get to top speed quickly. Was a consistent force at the college level threatening the seam, but will not be able to run away as easy from NFL defenders.
Big Play Ability
Spacing & Timing
Solid quickness off of LOS, and enhances that with an ability to escape a jam, by using his strength and physicality. Ran a wide variety of routes on the route tree, and has a firm grasp of what it takes to gain separation with each, especially with the high quality of coaching he got in a pro-style offense at Stanford. Understands when to sit down in the soft spots in zone coverage, as well as when to keep working yourself open when facing man coverage. Has innate feel for when to break off route, and work back to his QB under duress. Is able to gain separation early in his route by escaping jams through swim, and hump moves, as well as with his pure strength, and physical playing demeanor. Will set up his routes with head fakes, as well as being able to gain separation out of his breaks by bullying smaller DB's downfield. Will win late in the route when the ball is in the air, he has the rarified ability to box out, and make it seem like he is going up for a rebound in basketball, gaining an ability to separate vertically from defenders. Absolutely one of the surest hands catchers in this class. He had only one drop in tape viewed, and that was due to a defender making a nice hit on him. His hands seem like Venus fly traps, that can pick flies out of the air at will. Will consistently go outside of his frame, and make clutch catches downfield when his team needs it most. Strong, vice-like grip in run blocking as well, that help him to have a heavy presence to maintain his blocks. Not very elusive after the catch, due to a lack of agility. Rather he is at his best getting upfield where he can use his strength, and power to bulldoze oncoming defenders. Runs angry, and will try and drag defenders downfield until a crowd comes to help. Terrific ball security, and maintained a good grasp on the ball after taking multiple big hits. Was a consistent force on combative catches, and the ball always seem to stick to his body no matter how big of a collision.
Shows great run blocking mechanics when asked to block in-line. Shoots his vice-like hands inside, snapped hips, ran feet on contact, and maintained his block with feistiness. Showed that he could collapse edge when asked to tandem block with OT, as well as when he is asked to down block. Cerebral player who understands positional blocking, as well as angling defenders away from rushing lanes. Even with a lack of agility, he showed enough nimbleness, and short area burst to be able to loop around from his move TE position to target, and fit on defenders. Does a good job of stalk blocking out in front of screen passes, and can dominate second and third level defenders due to his strength, and build. Will be left grasping for defender though if they are a quicker athlete than he is. Was not asked to help out in pass protection often, but when he did, he showed good patience, an ability to shuffle feet, and also a keen awareness of when to disengage from defender as to not draw a holding penalty. Clutch player, who understands what it takes to perform on the big stage. Seems to thrive when his number is called whether it be to make a crucial block on a run play, or to have to come down with a big-time grab for his QB.
Blocking in Space
Rugged and burly built TE, who excels at playing a throwback style of football. He lives to make combative catches, and wins those situations with a rate of success. Only has 2 years of very good production, but not elite due to constant rotation of the TE talent at Stanford, but had a connection with K.J. Costello that endeared him to more playing time than most. Only has 7 career TD, but I believe he will be an even bigger red zone target at the next level with the talent he possesses. Was an All-Pac-12 second team selection in 2018, as well as a Mackey Award finalist. He was also named to the preseason AP Preseason All-American second team selection. High effort player, who loves to do the gritty work that makes TE's excel. Will put in the extra effort off the field, as well as in practice to refine his craft, and get on the same page with his QB.
Aggression & Toughness
Catch Point Mentality
Terrific feel for how to get open. Reads defender off the snap, and adjusts to how to escape a jam that is coming his way. He also can use his intelligence, and small subtleties within his route to be able to gain just enough space to be able to make those combat catches he is known for. Outstanding football intelligence, and has mastered the fine art of getting open. Will work his tail off until he gets it right, and is not afraid of taking younger players under his wing, and mentor them into better players. Stanford asks a ton of their players both in the football program, as well as in the classroom, and he embodies that with being mentioned as a Pac-12 All-Academic selection the last two seasons. Played a more complete role as the starting TE in 2018, with more snaps in-line, with still being able to contribute as a move TE, out in the slot, and at times split out wide to bully smaller DB's. In 2017, he was mostly asked to play more of a receiving role in the offense. Quality contributor on special teams as well before he made the move to a more prominent role on the offense.