Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Georgia
Smith is a very polished route runner. He showed the ability to run a complete route tree both from the slot and on the outside during his senior year. Does a good job of getting off the ball quickly at the beginning of his routes and timing the breaks in his routes to create separation. Also has extremely good hands, looking the ball in and catching at it's highest point instead of letting it come into his body. Has a high catch radius and isn't afraid to take on contact while bringing in a catch. After the catch, he isn't the fastest receiver or an ankle breaker but does a good job of getting up the field quickly to pick up big gains. This also helps him on special teams as he provides value as a returner if needed.
His biggest weakness is his smaller frame. He is a lot lighter than a lot of receivers and that shows when he has to be physical. While he shows toughness for his size, he struggles at times against bigger defenders as a blocker. Can get in front of the defender but has a hard time staying on his blocks. He did show that he could play in multiple receiver spots in college but his size could keep him mainly in the Z receiver position at the next level. Isn't slow by any means but doesn't possess the elite deep speed and quickness that some receivers have.
While he was a key piece of the Alabama offense throughout his whole career, Smith truly burst onto the scene in his senior year. He became the go-to guy for the Crimson Tide, catching 117 passes for 1.856 yards and 23 touchdowns. This helped him earn not only recognition as the top receiver in college football but also the best overall player as he became Alabama's third Heisman trophy winner. In this year's draft class there will be a lot of debate between Smith and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase as the top receiver. However, I give Smith the nod due to his body of work and he is a true WR1 for any receiver needy teams. He can run the full route tree and is as sure-handed as they come. To add to that, he showed that he can be a reliable returner on special teams if called upon to do so. I fully expect Smith to be gone as high as the top three picks in the draft and no lower than the top ten. Smith has the potential to be one of the stars at his position in the league and have a long, successful career if put in the right system.
Isn't the top athlete at his position in this class but he has enough to be very successful. Has a good initial burst off the ball at the top of his routes and also can use that in the open field to pick up extra yards after the catch. Has enough deep speed to be a solid deep threat and create separation from defensive backs. While he isn't super shifty, he understands angles and is smooth when making cuts in the open field to make defenders miss. Although his frame may make you think otherwise, he shows strength when taking on defenders as a ball carrier with the ability to keep his legs driving to break through arm tackles in open space.
Route Tree Variety
Big Play Ability
Smith is a very fluid route runner. Has a good amount of suddeness at the beginning of his routes, wasting no time getting off the ball and making his first move. Is very smooth in his route breaks and shows that he has a great understanding of timing them in order to create separation from the defender. Has solid body control in his route running as he looks very natural in his body movement when changing direction. Showed that he can run a full route tree whether it be in the short, intermediate, or deep passing game.
High Points Ball
Has all around tremendous ball skills. Is a true hands catcher, plucking the ball with his hands away from his body before bringing it in. Can go up and get the ball when thrown too high or when trying to win a jump ball situation over a defender. Does a great job of catching the ball at the highest point. Has shown that he can win those one on one battles for jump balls and also doesn't let contact across the middle keep him from shying away from a catch.
Run After Catch
Was surprised to see how tough Smith is even with his very small frame. Doesn't shy away from contact and has shown that he can take on hits across the middle while making a catch and as a ball player. After the catch, he has the elusiveness to make defenders miss in the open field and shows that he can get up the field in a hurry to pick up extra yards. Also has shown the ability to run through arm tackles. Does a great job of keeping his balance through contact when making a catch and doesn't break stride in the open field as a ball carrier on first contact. As a blocker, he does a good job of getting in front of the defender to wall them off but can struggle to stay on blocks and gets over powered at times due to his lack of size.
Shows good instincts when turning to go up for jump balls and to look for the ball in various routes. Also has a good feel for tackling angles in the open field after the catch, understanding when to cut to avoid defenders in open space. Seems to have a good understanding of different coverages, which is shown in his route running as he does a good job of finding the gaps in the secondary. Played both on the outside and in the slot in college but is best suited as a true Z receiver at the next level. His value on special teams as a returner could enhance his overall value to a team depending on their needs.