Matthew Hinton / Associated Press
An anonymous NFL receivers coach praised DeVonta Smith’s intangibles in Alabama on Wednesday ahead of next week’s 2021 NFL Draft.
According to Bruce feldman of The Athletic, the coach expressed concern over Smith’s 170-pound frame, but added: “He’s tough as hell. He’ll bite your face. He will try. He’s not backing down, but will he win the battle? “
Smith is considered one of the top receivers in the draft, which begins April 29, along with LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle.
Little Smith had a season for the ages in 2020, reeling 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns as Crimson Tide went undefeated and won a national championship.
Smith was also awarded the Heisman Trophy, making him the first wide receiver to win the prestigious honor since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.
Despite his production, there are a few questions surrounding Smith in the NFL, mainly due to the fact that he lacks size.
A second NFL wide receiver coach said that while they “love” Smith and believe he can be a “legitimate number 1 receiver”, they are concerned that he is “so skinny”.
Another wide receivers coach wondered how Smith was going to handle “pushing back” his place by running routes in the NFL, but they also noted that “DeVonta is faster than you think and he’s faster than you think and he can really catch. “
The senior receivers coach also praised Smith’s skills, saying he possessed “amazing hand-eye coordination and body control with elite ball skills. “
Smith is almost certainly a first round and among the top three in the draft, but it remains to be seen what time he comes off the board and whether Chase and Waddle get ahead of him.
While Smith is the most accomplished wide receiver among them at the college level, Chase is much taller and Waddle is more explosive, qualities that will no doubt appeal to NFL talent assessors.
Among the top 15 teams with a clear need for the wide receiver are the Cincinnati Bengals (No.5), Miami Dolphins (No.6), Detroit Lions (No.7) , New York Giants (No.11), Philadelphia Eagles (No.12) and New England Patriots (No.15).
Each of those teams represent potential landing points for Smith, who is considering entering the NFL with a chip on his shoulder due to some of the concerns coaches have.