If you have DeVonta Smith and D.K. Metcalf stand next to each other to be picked for flag football in gym class, you’d probably take Metcalf 100 percent of the time. But don’t let size influence you when judging Smith. There’s a reason he caught 34 passes for 529 yards and eight touchdowns in Alabama’s three playoff games and it’s not because he was playing weak competition.
No matter what scouting report you read, Smith will have the “slight frame” moniker listed under cons. At 6’1”, 175 lbs., Smith is never going to be a physical force, but he doesn’t need to be. He is excellent in all areas of wide receivering. You can say he is fundamentally sound across the board, but that doesn’t encompass just how good of a route runner and ball catcher he is. The intricacies that go into getting off the line, running a route and getting out of breaks, along with positioning your body and hands for the catch can all be dissected and Smith is elite across the board.
And Smith does play physically despite his weight. He is strong enough to break tackles and gain extra yards despite not being a track star. But he usually makes his extra yards due to his elusiveness. He was one of the best punt returners in college last season as he averaged 21.5 yards and scored a touchdown. His ability in the open field should translate to the NFL.
I couldn’t find an obvious comparison (to Smith) in today’s NFL. However, I did see some glimpses of Marvin Harrison while studying Smith. I hate comparing college kids to Hall of Famers, but Smith and Harrison have several things in common: lean builds, crisp route-running, excellent hands and toughness. I think Harrison was more sudden and explosive, but Smith’s playing style is quite similar. I will give Smith the nod in one area: I believe he’s more physical than Harrison. — NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah
Mock Draft landing spots
Mock drafts have had Smith going as early as sixth overall to the Dolphins, but the slight consensus has him going 12th to the Eagles. Overall, he’s been mocked to a bevy of teams, including the aforementioned Dolphins and Eagles, along with the Titans, Lions, Patriots, Cardinals, Chargers, Bears, Raiders, Broncos, Vikings and Jets. And all of those teams taking a hard look at him makes complete sense if he happens to fall due to his size.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Smith has the skill set to make an impact his rookie season, but that impact will depend on where he ends up. For someone who could go early in the first round, the odds aren’t great that he’ll land with a top quarterback. As with all receivers, they need targets and those aren’t given as freely to rookie receivers as rushing attempts are given to rookie running backs. There is plenty of precedent for rookies breaking out though and Smith is firmly on that list of players who can quickly become a fantasy asset.
Fantasy impact: Career
Smith is a player who looks equipped for the long haul. He’s not going to need a lot of coaching up to make an impact early, but he’s the type of guy who should only get better as he learns the NFL. He should be in the Top-5 of all your dynasty rookie drafts without question.