Not many players enter the NFL Draft with a resume like former Alabama Crimson Tide star wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The 2-time National Champion ended his career at Alabama with 235 receptions, 3,965 yards, and 46 receiving touchdowns. He also added a rushing and punt return touchdown this season.
Did I mention he won the Heisman Trophy this year as well? As rare as it is, Smith was just the fourth wide receiver ever to win the Heisman Trophy. His season with 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, and 23 touchdowns (he had 25 touchdowns total) in 2020 was, in my opinion, the most incredible season ever from a college football receiver.
Smith dominated the SEC, and not one player could cover him, even arguably the best cornerback in college football, LSU’s Derek Stingley, will have nightmares about Smith’s dominance.
Here is a scouting report and breakdown of DeVonta Smith’s strengths and weaknesses and potential fit with the Miami Dolphins:
Strengths: As Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) once said, “There are three things in life that are certain; death, taxes, and 85 will always be open.” Well, now there are four things because DeVonta Smith will always be open too. In all my years of scouting players and covering the NFL Draft, and even just watching football, I have never witnessed such a great route runner.
Some people, who do not know football very well, argue that Smith is so good because he played for Alabama. Those people clearly do not understand how technical Smith is to always be open. It is not because he is on Bama; it is because he understands how to run routes better than any player I have ever watched. Before the 2019 NFL Draft, I said that Justin Jefferson was like 7-Eleven because he was always open. Well, Jefferson is the manager of that 7-Eleven, while Smith owns the 7-Eleven because somehow he is even better.
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I think what I love about Smith’s route running is that he runs a 5-yard hitch just as hard as running a 9-route (go-route). There is something just so beautiful about every route he runs, and it is the savviness he brings to the field while doing it. He takes every single rep like it will be his last.
Not only does he dominate you with route-running ability, but Smith also has impressive hands and will rarely drop a pass. He catches the ball so naturally, and even when he is in odd positions, he plucks the ball out of the air with ease. If it is a 50-50 ball, Smith is beating the defensive back every single time. He wants it more than the defender every single play.
After the catch, Smith is dangerous. I have seen some complaints about his top-end speed and what his 40-time will be. That makes me laugh because even if he runs a high 4.4 low 4.5, watch him on the field. He plays so fast and rarely has someone catch him. He is more than fast enough, and his quickness is unreal as well.
Smith competes on every single play. He starts each play like the ball is coming his way, and if it does not; he still finishes the play. He is a willing and able blocker too, which you love to see from a receiver, especially one that is a superstar with the ball in his hands. He has that “We, not me” attitude.
Lastly, Smith dominated the SEC Championship, College Football Playoff Semi-Finals (Rose Bowl), and the College Football Championship. In those three games, the three most crucial games of the season, Smith had a combined 34 receptions, 529 yards, and eight touchdowns. That means he averaged over 11 receptions, 176 yards, and almost three scores a game. That is just absurd. This kid can BALL, and he is the true definition of a DUDE!
Weaknesses: There is only one weakness for Smith, and it is his size. Smith is listed at 6-1, 175 pounds. Honestly, he may be smaller than that, but who knows at this point. I think it is fair to talk about his size being a weakness, but only because you need something to note about him that is a weakness. I do not think it will be an issue at all because, as Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said recently (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald), “Good players are good players. This is a very good player”
My last note on his size: Sometimes, when he gets tackled, it looks like he gets walloped. I made a note while watching the film a couple of times, and it is something that should motivate him to at least put 10-15 pounds on when he enters the league.
NFL Comparison: While Marvin Harrison has become the popular comparison for Smith, and it is a good one, I will go a little different here. I think Smith is the perfect combination of Chad Johnson (who get two shout outs in this one!) and Jerry Rice. Both of these players were never the biggest or fastest, but it is the way Smith runs his routes and his competitive nature that makes me think of these guys while I am watching him. Some people may think comparing him to Rice is wild, but I think he is truly that special.
Overall Impression: A lot of dominant receivers in the NFL will beat you with a God-given trait, like speed or size. That is what makes me fall in love with Smith. He does not have that size and speed of falling back on; he has his technical craft. Comparing him to other players is hard because he is truly his own player. Smith will be a receiver we talk about for the rest of our lives, and he does not just have Pro Bowl potential; Smith has Hall of Fame potential. He was a superstar at Alabama, and he will be an instant superstar in the NFL. He is a DUDE!
Grade: First round (Top 3 pick)
Fit with the Dolphins: If you just read all that and wonder how he is a fit with the Dolphins still, you are crazy! Just think about this elite receiver in the Dolphins’ offense. Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was lucky enough to play with Smith in college, so reuniting them feels so right. Tagovailoa would finally get a real weapon he could trust every single play in the passing game. Smith can line up in the slot, on the outside, in the backfield, and anywhere else the Dolphins need him to. He would be able to generate his own touches with his elite route-running ability, and he would be the Dolphins No. 1 receiver on Day 1. Drafting Smith would allow DeVante Parker to fit nicely as their No. 2 receiver, which is what he is best suited for in the NFL. If the Dolphins think they can move back a few spots and still secure Smith, they should, but if they are worried they will lose out on him, taking Smith at No. 3 overall would be a great move.