Falcons 2021 potential draft pick profile: WR Devonta Smith

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Scott Carasik
·4 min read
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The Atlanta Falcons could surprise the world at pick No. 4 by taking yet another Alabama wide receiver in Devonta Smith, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. While the team doesn’t necessarily need a wide receiver, new Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has stated he’s trying to have a best player available strategy. Smith could very well be the best player available when Atlanta is on the clock.

WR Devonta Smith, University of Alabama

6-foot-1, 175 pounds

Stats and Awards

2020: 13 Games Played, 117 Catches, 1,856 Yards, 23 Touchdowns, 4 Carries, 6 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 11 Punt Returns, 237 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 4 Kick Returns, 52 Yards, 0 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle, Heisman Trophy Winner, National Champion, Maxwell Award Winner, CFB National Championship MVP, Walter Camp Award Winner, Biletnikoff Award Winner, Paul Hornung Award winner, College Football Player of the Year, All-American, SEC Offensive Player of the Year, First-team All-SEC

2019: 13 Games Played, 68 Catches, 1,256 Yards, 14 Touchdowns, 2 Tackles, First-team All-SEC

2018: 14 Games Played, 42 Catches, 693 Yards, 6 Touchdowns

2017: 14 Games Played, 7 Catches, 156 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle, National Champion

Highlights: Vs. LSU

Strengths

Devonta Smith is one of the best all-around wide receivers in the draft. The biggest reason why is his high football intelligence. He reads defenses like a quarterback and kills coverages on option routes. Adding in great route running and hands only makes him a better receiver than most would expect. On top of that, he’s got great athleticism that helps him create separation.

When combining all of that, he destroys zone and man coverages with equal proficiency. Smith is almost impossible to cover one-on-one. His ability to create separation with simple head fakes and consistently excellent footwork is remarkable. His film is basically a coaches film on how to run routes and play the position.

His ability to create separation right at the line is amazing as well. He can even take any route to the house with his ability to accelerate to full speed in nearly an instant. Alignment isn’t a problem either, because he has the kind of game-breaking speed to score from anywhere on the field whether aligned out wide or in the slot.

Weaknesses

When it comes to weaknesses, Smith’s biggest issues come from his lack of size and his technique as a blocker. Both things can be addressed once the receiver gets into a pro camp and has a true NFL strength and nutrition program. Smith’s blocking shows a willingness, but he doesn’t have the best technique yet.

Leadership

Smith was one of the best leaders for the Crimson Tide when he was there. He was a captain as a senior and the biggest voice in the receiver room as a junior too. His competitiveness is unquestioned, and he shows it as a blocker, on 50-50 balls and in those clutch end-game situations when he needs to get open for the third down or touchdown catch.

Overview

NFL Stylistic Comparison/Best Case Scenario: Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown is a good three inches shorter than Smith is, but he’s the same kind of smaller receiver who can run any route and be effective. Smith can attack the entire field and lead a passing offense with competence as the No. 1 receiver. His speed, catching ability and overall athleticism are better than Brown’s, though.

How Smith would fit into the Falcons’ plans

If the Falcons were to take Devonta Smith at No. 4 overall, it would be to have him learn from Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones for a season or two. It would also be to give Matt Ryan all the best options he could get at wide receiver to close his career out. Smith would be the receiver to have if the Falcons were to move on from Jones.

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