The Jets have long been in need of a true speed receiver, and they certainly get that with Ohio State's Devin Smith. Of all the bigger receivers in this class, the 6'0", 196-pound Smith has as much or more straight-line speed as anyone. He'll take the top off a defense, but he struggles with the finer points of the position—he'll have stretches of drops, he's not physical enough to avoid getting re-routed against press coverage, and his route tree is more like a route bush. That said, he'll add to this offense as a pure vertical guy.
Strengths: Will be tabbed by some as a “speed” receiver, but it’s actually what he does once he gets downfield that separates him in this class. Simply incredible when the ball is in the air, tracking it about as well as you’ll see from a college receiver. Able to get win the position battles with cornerbacks and safeties, too, so those deep passes find their home. Adjusts to underthrown passes when necessary. Also goes up and finds the football in the air, leaping and high-pointing it. Explodes in and out of breaks at times, perhaps hinting that he could become a dangerous intermediate weapon if he refines his approach. Has a chance to be one of those receivers that drives cornerbacks (and opposing fans) nuts wit the number of penalties he draws. Remember, NCAA rules permit defenders to keep their hands on receivers until the ball is in the air. Without the benefit of that cushion, Smith more easily will find his way deep and he has the know-how to create contact. Never missed a game in college.
Weaknesses: Everything about his game on plays closer to the line of scrimmage needs more consistency. Route-running could become a real plus but it’s middle-of-the-road right now—rounds some off, doesn’t always hit the gas when headed inside, etc. Will have to get better at reading defenses to become more than just a deep threat; it won’t always work to just go long. Is less of a sure thing catching the football on short and intermediate routes than when he has to go get it downfield, but might just be a timing thing and letting the ball get too close to his body when he’s working back toward the line. To be a top-two receiver on a team, he’ll have to show more interest in blocking. Otherwise, he will be relegated mostly to three-receiver sets and passing downs. Decent size but nothing more. Physical cornerbacks will succeed at frustrating him on occasion.
Player comparison: Torrey Smith