Experienced and successful against quality college programs
Good size for a speed receiver
Needs development as a route runner
A little straight line
Has to learn to run underneath routes
Summary: The Buckeyes have been known over the past for years for things like a rushing attack led by power back Carlos Hyde, running quarterbacks like Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, and 2014's breakout stars, Ezekiel Elliot and Cardale Jones. While those players generated a lot of headlines, wide receiver Devin Smith will probably be drafted ealier than any of them. Smith is a deep-threat receiver who could end up being a Thursday night pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Even though he didn't get a lot of opportunities in 2014, Smith made the most of them as he averaged 28 yards per catch. The senior had only 33 receptions on the season, but was a home-run hitter with 12 touchdowns and 931 yards. In 2013, he hauled in 44 passes for 660 yards with eight scores. Smith was a contributor for the Buckeyes as a sophomore (30-618-6) and freshman (14-294-4), too.
For the NFL, Smith looks like a dangerous deep-threat receiver who can take the top off a defense. He will challenge cornerbacks vertically and many teams are going to have to consider safety help over the top. While Smith is fast running downfield, he also is skilled at making leaping grabs over defensive backs. Smith can high-point the football and make contested catches. He has very good body control along the sideline and end zone.
Smith needs to develop his route-running and ability to function on underneath routes. He showed some ability to do that at the Senior Bowl, but he needs more work and refinement. Smith will need to learn to run all of the route tree for the pros.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, Smith could get late first-round consideration and is unlikely to be lower than a second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Kendall Wright. Wright went in the back half of the 2012 NFL Draft as a deep-threat receiver and Smith could be similar. Wright has played well for Tennessee while being held back by injuries and inconsistent play at the quarterback position. Wright can stretch a defense vertically and has developed more skills at running other routes since entering the NFL. Smith could grow in a similar manner to Wright.
NFL Matches: Baltimore, Oakland, Miami, New York Jets, Minnesota, Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, New England, Detroit
There are a lot of teams that could target a speed receiver like Smith. Late in the first round, Baltimore could think of Smith as a replacement for Steve Smith. Devin Smith's deep speed would be a great fit for Joe Flacco's big arm. New England also could use some help at receiver, and Smith would be an upgrade for Tom Brady's weapons. Bill Belichick also has been drawn to selecting Urban Meyer's products.
Smith could land with the Raiders at the top of the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Oakland doesn't have much talent at receiver and lacks a deep threat. Minnesota also could use more receiving weapons for its second-year quarterback. The Jets need more receiving talent, plus Smith would give them another deep threat.
At the Senior Bowl, Smith told WalterFootball.com that the Dolphins and Texans had shown the most interest in him. Houston could use a vertical receiver to pair with DeAndre Hopkins. Miami also looks poised to move on from Mike Wallace, so Smith could be a replacement.
The 49ers could move on from Michael Crabtree, and with the age of Anquan Boldin, it makes sense for San Francisco to add more weapons for Colin Kaepernick.
The Browns will be without Josh Gordon in 2015, and obviously, he can never be relied on to stay on the field. Cleveland has to improve its wideouts, and a home-run hitter like Smith could be a good addition for the organization in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Detroit also met with Smith at the Senior Bowl. Perhaps the Lions would like a fast receiver to team with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.