Punch Drunk Wonderland

Could Devin Smith Be An Impact Deep Threat in 2015?

The 2015 NFL Draft is just days away and the conjecture and speculation on potential landing spots for the rookie class is in full swing. Among receivers names like Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker and Breshad Perriman are being tossed around as top options. Meanwhile, Devin Smith sits lower in the projections and is potentially a diamond in the rough. His combine numbers weren’t particularly impressive, but his collegiate production cannot be denied. Our friends at numberFire.com have taken a look at Devin Smith and his NFL potential.

Let’s talk about Devin Smith.

Because of the headline you just clicked, you probably assumed we would be doing just that. We start here, though, because it still feels like not enough people are talking about Smith. In what’s expected to be a deep receiving class, Smith is often passed over in the second tier of prospects in lieu of talking about Breshad Perriman, Jaelen Strong, or Phillip Dorsett.

However, Smith’s college production suggests he can be as good of a receiving prospect as those players — if not better. That production was pretty special. He was one of the best big-play receivers in college football and big plays, on most accounts, are good. Still, Smith continues to passed over more often than not when discussing possible impact players in this year’s draft.

Here is why he should be in the discussion.

Measurables

Not much about Smith’s measurables jump off the page, except that Smith could quite possibly jump off the page. Smith isn’t a physical freak, and during a process that swoons over imposing athletes, prospects who lack in that department need to stand out somewhere else.

Smith grades out in the 80th percentile in vertical jump and 40-time, according to MockDraftable.com.

If you’re not going to be among the giants at the position — Smith is listed at 6’0”, 198 lbs. — jumping high and running fast are probably the two best ways to get around that.

Smith’s 4.42 40-time was tied for seventh best for receivers at the combine but was overshadowed by the times run by J.J. Nelson, Phillip Dorsett, and Kevin White and even more so after Breshad Perriman ran a 4.25 at his pro day. There’s much more to game speed than 40-times, but it’s hard to keep getting brought up, at least in the media, as one of the best deep threats in the class when others are running faster, flashier times.

Value Added

It can also be easy to gloss over Devin Smith because he wasn’t the number one option in Ohio State’s passing offense. That was Michael Thomas, who led the Buckeyes with 75 targets in 2014. But when Smith was involved in the passing game, good things happened.

Smith was targeted 49 times and caught only 33 passes. Those 33 receptions, though, led to a 931 receiving yards, a 28.2 yards per reception average. That led college football last season, a full four yards higher than Phillip Dorsett’s average of 24.2. There was a bigger gap between Smith and Dorsett at first and second than between Dorsett and Florida International’s Glen Coleman at ninth overall. The last college player to top Smith’s yards per reception average was Stephen Hill in 2011 at 29.3 on 28 receptions.

What’s more impressive than Smith’s yards per reception total last season is how that stands out from the rest of the Ohio State passing offense. The Buckeyes were not a bad passing offense, either. Smith’s production slightly differs from Hill’s at Georgia Tech in 2011 within a run heavy offense. Ohio State was very good throwing the ball in 2014 and even better when throwing to Smith.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)

 

K. Smelser About K. Smelser

Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine…

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