5-9/193 Wake Forest
Pros: Has good speed, burst, and hips. Has good ball skills and a knack for making big plays. Willing in run support and can deliver the hit. Shows potential as a blitzer off the edge and has good closing burst on the ballcarrier.
Cons: Can tend to be overaggressive and gambles too much. Will give up too much cushion to his receivers, and tends to have difficulty against bigger receivers. Lacks elite speed and size, and can give up the deep ball. Doesn't consistently wrap as a tackler and can lack pop. Not a sure- handed punt returner that takes too many chances fielding the punt and looks for the big play.
Overview: Is a big play corner with the ability to excel in either man or zone coverage because of his burst, hips, and ball skills. He'll give up some plays gambling, but he'll make up for it with the plays he makes.
NFL Forecast: The worry you have with Smith is that he was clearly a great athlete and player, and seemed to at times try and bait lesser receivers and quarterbacks to challenge him. That promotes bad habits and you hope he's much more disciplined at the next level. But if he does work hard and play with more discipline, he could be a top corner. He'll probably never give up the gambling, but his playmaking ability will make up for it. Similar to a young Sam Madison in that regard for his propensity to gamble, but Madison was successful early on in his days in Miami. He's not perfect corner, but the type of guy that loves the challenge of going up against a top receiver and relishes in that moment. If you're looking for a corner that can take on the elite receivers in the league, Smith is as good as any prospect.
ATL Forecast: Smith has the potential to be the type of corner that can routinely match up with Steve Smith and Marques Colston and win that battle as much as he loses. He has the potential to be the Falcons top corner by the end of his rookie year. He'll love the challenge of taking on Steve Smith twice a year, and the ability to be a real challenge to him. He'll have a harder time with the bigger Colston, but would also step up to that challenge. His issue will be will his play drop off when he's going up against Michael Clayton or Devery Henderson? That is the potential with Smith, much like DeAngelo Hall in that his level of play may not be consistent from week to week. He plays up for the big-time receivers, but down for the lesser ones. But he is good enough to challenge right away for a starting spot, and I would be surprised if he was not starting for the Falcons by midseason.
Value: Smith is definitely worth a first round pick because of potential to be a top corner. If he was taller and a bit more consistent, he'd merit a Top 15 pick, but because that is not the case is a guy that should be picked in the second half of Round 1.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
MAN COVERAGE: 4.0
ZONE COVERAGE: 4.0
BALL SKILLS: 4.5
Scouting Reports of cornerbacks in the 2009 NFL draft.
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