Matthew Hinton/Associated Press
At least one NFL general manager isn’t concerned about DeVonta Smith’s potential at the next level despite his 6’1″, 170-pound frame.
“DeVonta Smith is one of the best football players I’ve ever seen,” an anonymous GM said to NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I know he scares teams with his size [170 pounds], but his hands and his presence and how smart he plays. … I think he’ll have an incredible career.”
According to Stathead, 73 receivers measured between 160 and 180 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine—or official pro days in the case of 2021—since 2000. Only four of those players (Tavon Austin, Ted Ginn, Marquise Brown and R. Jay Soward) were ultimately first-round draft picks.
That group also includes three-time Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson, so it would be premature to say Smith can’t excel in the NFL or isn’t worthy of a first-round selection.
Smith’s size will likely limit how he can be utilized in the passing game but may not blunt his effectiveness. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wrote in March he can thrive in part because of the current ecosystem:
“However, some changes should actually benefit Smith. Defenders are largely faster and more physical than they were in [Marvin] Harrison’s heyday—athletes, in general, have advanced over the last 20 years—but NFL offenses have evolved too.
“Rather than forcing players into pro-style schemes, teams are more open to adapting to college concepts. Spread formations, run-pass options and uptempo pacing are all frequently used to get receivers in space.”
At some point, the numbers don’t lie. Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 scores en route to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2020. He had 12 receptions for 215 yards and three scores in the first half of the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Putting up that kind of production in the SEC—in a Nick Saban-coached offense no less—is no easy feat.
One could argue opting for a wideout in the top 10 of the draft isn’t worth it because teams have had a lot of success targeting the position on Days 2 and 3. But Smith has proven himself to be one of the top pass-catchers on the board.