Devonta Smith’s size under scrutiny by NFL teams

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) runs against Florida during the first half of the SEC Championship game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) runs against Florida during the first half of the SEC Championship game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

Credit: Brynn Anderson

Credit: Brynn Anderson

NFL scouts can watch the film and see all of Devonta Smith’s acrobatic catches.

They can see the Heisman Trophy winner pulling away from defensive backs and strolling into the end zone.

But there are questions.

Can Smith’s smallish 6-foot-1 and 170 pound-frame hold up under the demanding rigors of the National Football League? Can he even get off the line of scrimmage against press man-to-man coverage?

Smith has heard the concerns about his weight, but as the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991, he is unapologetic about his body.

After skipping the weigh-in at the Senior Bowl, Smith said he weighed 170 pounds, but seemed to wonder what all of the fuss was about.

“I feel like it’s not going to be (any) different that college,” Smith said on a virtual call with the media on Monday. “I mean, I played against some of the best in college. I played in the SEC. I feel like it’s the toughest conference there is. I know a lot of people that are bigger than me, that have more problems than me, so I’m not worried about it at all.”

Teams may have to move Smith around to help him get off the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t have a preference of playing outside on in the slot.

“Really just, I feel like I’m a receiver that can play anywhere,” Smith said. “So, really just put me anywhere and (I’ll) buy into whatever the team needs me to do.”

Smith is being projected to go to the Eagles with the sixth overall pick and reunite with former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.

“Me and Jalen, we talked recently,” Smith said. “Not just about that (playing for the Eagles), but just how the process and things are going. How has my training been going? Catching up just about a lot of things and things like that. It will be a blessing just to hear any team call my name.”

Smith only plans to weigh-in during Alabama’s Pro Day on Tuesday. He’s been meeting with teams via virtually, but doesn’t plan to workout.

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) gains yardage after a catch in the first half of the Rose Bowl against Notre Dame Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (Roger Steinman/AP)
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) gains yardage after a catch in the first half of the Rose Bowl against Notre Dame Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (Roger Steinman/AP)

Credit: Roger Steinman

Credit: Roger Steinman

He started getting ready for the NFL when he accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl. He participated during the week, but did not play in the game.

“It was a good experience to see how the NFL is somewhat and how the playbooks are,” Smith said. “Just kind of getting a feel for what the difference is from the NFL and college.”

Smith is the latest in a strong line of wide receivers from Alabama that dates back to Falcons superstar Julio Jones and budding star Calvin Ridley. Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy went in the first round of the draft last season.

Smith and Jaylen Waddle are projected to go in the first round of the 2021 draft.

“I think it’s kind of a flavor thing with Waddle and DeVonta Smith,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “Waddle gives you a little bit more juice, but DeVonta Smith plays plenty fast, as well. DeVonta Smith, is a pristine route runner. He obviously, as everybody knows, is real thin.”

Smith survived in the SEC with the small body.

As a true freshman, Smith had the game-winning touchdown in Alabama’s 26-23 national championship victory over Georgia at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

He followed with 42 catches for 693 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018 and 68 catches for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.

Last season, he caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns.

“He is really long armed and can go up and get it as well,” Jeremiah said. “I just thought what you get after the catch with some of the shiftiness and then just the home run speed with Waddle is why I ended up with Waddle over Smith.”

With the no scouting combine and players electing not to run on their Pro Days, NFL teams are using tracking devices.

“GPS stuff is going to be big this year because we haven’t had as much verified numbers, and talking to some teams around the league, Waddle had the fastest GPS of any receiver any country,” Jeremiah said. “Your eyes aren’t deceiving you when you watch him. He’s freaky fast.”

Smith enjoyed playing with Waddle at the other receiver spot.

“It’s great just knowing that the guy across from you is just as good as you,” Smith said. “It brings a lot more fun to the game. Just knowing that y’all both are out there and you’re going to see some things that he’s going to do that are going to be mind blowing. It just makes you want to go out there and do those same things. It’s exciting.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 2.0: Top five picks

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, (QB, Ohio State)

3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, (OT, Oregon)

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