Devin Smith, the senior wide receiver from the Ohio State Buckeyes, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after an explosive career for the defending National Champions. In 2014, Smith was selected as an Honorable Mention All-Big10 performer after a season that totaled 33 catches for 931 yards and 12 TDs. He averaged a whopping 28.2 YPC on the year. It was his second Honorable Mention All Conference selection, as he received the same recognition in 2013 after totaling 44 receptions, 660 yards and 8 TDs. Smith averaged more than 20 YPC in three of his four seasons at Ohio State and has catches of 90, 80 and 72 yards on his resume. Physically, Smith presents with an average all-around frame for the position. He possesses good height at over 6’0″ tall and has an athletic-looking body. At 190 lbs, he’s not ‘small’ and should be able to hold up in the NFL. Athletically, Smith is an explosive wideout who possesses great field speed and overall body control. He accelerates off the line in a flash and can eat up the cushion quickly. Smith reaches top speed in just a few steps, causing the cornerback to flip and run almost instantly. While not necessarily a “make you miss” player in the open field, Smith does use good angles and has the kind of vision needed to maximize his game-breaking speed with the ball in his hands. He’s a true vertical threat who can take the top off a defense. While he appears capable of being a consistent intermediate target, his tape lacks enough examples to project him with much confidence as a route-runner and chain mover. Smith is sharp into and out of his breaks, and creates consistent separation on most of his routes, but he simply wasn’t consistently targeted to get a good feel for his ability to live over the middle. As a pass catcher, Smith flashed the ability to make the spectacular catch; He tracks the long ball exceptionally well and is a focused hands catcher who can secure the ball even when a defender is draped over him. Smith also displayed the ability to come down with the pass in contested situations; He is a more aggressive attacker of the football than many prospects who present with a bigger frame. He can be frustrating at times, however, as some “easy” balls tend to get away from him. He doesn’t add much in the running game, as he lacks the physicality to be an asset as a blocker downfield. Smith does bring special teams value to the NFL, flashing top-end coverage speed on punts.
BOTTOM LINE: Devin Smith is a high-octane deep threat that is capable of being the ideal complement to an established possession receiver on the next level. He’s a very good athlete who I believe is capable of maturing into an all-around weapon after a few years of pro seasoning. With the NFL’s rules limiting physicality in coverage, Smith is the kind of player who can thrive in the modern passing game. He has a bit of T.Y. Hilton in his game, and if paired with an accurate long ball thrower, could be a highly productive receiver very early in his career.
GRADE: 7.5 (2nd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)