NFL Hot Press: Character Evaluation Hurting Cam Smith

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Combine Logo Character Evaluation Hurting Cam Smith

Updated March 1, 2023
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

At the NFL combine, one of the more important and valuable aspects is the player interviews. Teams quiz players on their football intelligence, but also dig into their background and character. One player who franchises were interested to speak with was South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith. The 6-foot, 190-pound Smith has quality size for the next level. Team sources, however, said character concerns are hurting Smith with teams, which have identified issues such as work ethic, makeup, and off-the-field habits.

Smith took over as the No. 1 corner for the Gamecocks in 2021 folllowing Jaycee Horn’s departure to the NFL and put together a breakout season with 41 tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes broken up. He continued to play well in 2022, recording 27 tackles, an interception and five pass breakups.

Beyond any media opinions, including my own, what matters is what team evaluators think of prospects. Here is how one area scout summarized Smith to, “He’s a good player but lacks twitch and explosion. He grabs too much. He’s a man corner; the lack of twitch makes him a bad fit in zone. He’s really good in press man. His instincts and ball skills are pretty good.”

The 2023 NFL Draft has some depth at cornerback, which hurts Smith because teams have other options the positions. The consensus top-three corners for the 2023 NFL Draft are Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon. After those three prospects, who will end up as the fourth cornerback selected during the 2023 NFL Draft is a wide-open competition, and the fourth and fifth corners could easily be selected in Round 1. Smith was in the running to be the fourth cornerback off the board during the 2023 NFL Draft, but per team sources, the work ethic and character concerns could easily cause him to slide into Day 2.