2021 Alabama Crimson Tide Draft Profile: Wide Receiver DeVonta Smith

Don't let the size fool you, former Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith is a big-time NFL prospect
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It's anything but news flash: DeVonta Smith is thin.

He's also really, really good. 

So good that NFL teams don't seem to have much of a problem looking past his bean-pole stature in regards to the 2021 NFL Draft, when Smith is expected to be one of the first players selected.  

“I think he’s got some grit to him, I’m a big fan,” Sports Illustrated analyst Jim Mora Jr. said about Smith. “I don’t worry about his size.”

While Smith is listed as being 170 pounds, essentially the same weight he played at with Alabama, he has long arms, big hands and can go up and catch a ball. He's been called a modern-day Lynn Swann, the next Marvin Harrison, and was the first non-running back to win the Heisman Trophy with the Crimson Tide. 

“It's a yellow flag, but I don’t think it’s a red flag," Mora continued. "We talk about these measurables, and people laugh when you measure hand size, wrist size, or the circumference of the knee, but these pro scouts are going to analyze his body and they’re going to look at growth potential. I wouldn’t be surprised if they measured his bone density, to see if he can stand up to the rigors of pro football. I believe he is.

“Number one, you can’t catch him. He’s hard to tackle. He’s not going to take a lot of hits. You know what I mean? He’s so elusive, he’s so quick. He’s got an extra gear that you rarely see. And I think like I said he’s been through some pretty darn physical Alabama practices.”

The more the experts look, the more they like Smith, who was a two-time team captain and as a freshman made the game-winning catch against Georgia in overtime of the National Championship Game. 

"[His size] could impact a little bit of how he goes [in the draft]," Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said. "I don't think it's going to have any impact of what he's going to do at the next level. 

"I think he's going to be outstanding." 

DeVonta Smith

Hometown: Amite, LA

Class: Senior

Height: 6-0

Weight: 170 pounds

Arms: 31.125 

Hands: 9.25

  • Won 2020 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Biletnikoff Award
  • Selected as the Associated Press Player of the Year, the first wide receiver to win the award
  • 2020 Unanimous All-American
  • 2020 SEC Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2020 All-SEC; 2019 All-SEC (AP)
  • Twice voted team captain 
  • Alabama's first recipient of the Paul Hornung Award, as the nation's most versatile player
  • Only receiver in SEC history with multiple career games totaling four or more receiving touchdowns.
  • Holds the SEC and Alabama career record for receiving touchdowns with 46, passing the previous mark of 31 held by Amari Cooper (2012-14) and Chris Doering of Florida (1992-95)
  • The Alabama and SEC all-time receiving yards leader with 3,965,
  • In shortened 2020 season due to the coronavirus, led the nation in receptions (117), receiving touchdowns (23) and receiving yards (1,856) ... ranked second nationally in receptions per game (9.0) and receiving yards per game (142.8). Smith also did so while playing an SEC-only schedule. 

What they said ...

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: While Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley is my NFL comparison for Smith, I feel like a better comp might be Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry. Like Curry, Smith is thinner than you'd like and isn't the strongest player, but he has rare quickness, speed, and change-of-direction fluidity, and he creates separation from defenders seemingly at will. He possesses an elite skill level for the position and can hit the defense from short, mid-range or deep. Smith has quietly been the most complete of the receivers at Alabama over the last two seasons and will give an NFL team the ability to mismatch him against the weak links either inside or outside in coverage. He's a detailed route runner with the athletic ability to really make them count, from a separation standpoint, and his ball skills are unquestioned. Smith has the football character, athletic gifts and upper-echelon skill level to become a long-time starter and Pro Bowl regular.

NFL Draft Bible: A big play threat who brings length, burst and hands, Smith can create separation as well as any receiver in college football. He really thrives versus man coverage, as he shows the burst and acceleration to blow right past defenders; extremely quick release off the line of scrimmage. His run after catch ability, aggressiveness to finish runs and willingness to block, complement his solid route running, making Smith a complete package. He also shows a nice vertical game, smooth change of direction footwork and speed that must be respected. Smith was suspended for the first half of the Texas A&M Game in 2019 by head coach Nick Saban after retaliating to a punch being thrown at him during the previous game. While some may have viewed Smith as the fourth musketeer on the 2019 ‘Bama team, he actually led the team in both receiving yards (1,246) and touchdowns (14); has averaged 18 yards per catch for his career. He followed that up with a historic season in the 2020 season, posting an astonishing 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns on 117 receptions. Despite a standout career, there are some concerns over Smith’s slight frame, making him an outlier of sorts. Leadership is no question, being named a team captain in 2019 and 2020. With his combination of craftiness, route running and hand strength, Smith has the type of athletic profile to transcend his odd build.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: "The Heisman Trophy winner doesn't have the biggest frame, but you shouldn't underestimate him. He is one of the best route runners I've scouted, and he beats any corner put in front of him."

Draft projection: First round, probably between picks 5-15. 

This is the first in a series of Crimson Tide profiles for the 2021 NFL Draft