Indianapolis takes CB Smith after trading out of 2nd round
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) D'Joun Smith cashed in on the daily double Friday night.
First, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback donned a cap and gown to get his communications degree from Florida Atlantic. Less than three hours later, he was on the phone with the Colts about his first real job. Things happened so fast, Smith didn't even have time to take off his tasseled graduation hat, so he shot a video for the team's website in graduation gear.
''It's been crazy,'' Smith said on a conference call shortly after being selected as the top pick in the third round, No. 65 overall, in the NFL draft. ''I never watched the draft until this year, and it was so up and down. Woo! I'm so glad I'm off the board. I can go to sleep tonight.''
But Smith won't have much time to rest.
His first official day on the job comes next Friday when the Colts open a three-day rookie camp, and Smith will almost certainly be facing another college player from Florida, Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett -- Indy's first-round pick.
Smith embraces that challenge, knowing full well he must win that one-on-one matchup before pursuing his real goal -- becoming the NFL's best cornerback.
''You don't want a meek and mild, milk toast type of guy playing that position,'' coach Chuck Pagano said. ''I'm sitting there in the interview, and this sucker was on the edge of his seat when he came in and like Ryan (Grigson) said, he was all business. When we asked him who the best corner in the draft was coming out this year, he said, `Me.'''
If he plays up to those lofty expectations, it should quiet some of the Colts' critics who were upset with selection of Dorsett. They wanted the Colts to focus on fixing their most glaring needs, the offensive line and run defense.
Grigson, Indy's general manager, did exactly that Friday by taking Smith, who is considered strong in run support, and 6-foot-6, 294-pound defensive end Henry Anderson from Stanford with the No. 93 overall pick.
Anderson had 65 tackles and 8 1/2 sacks last season and will rejoin a group of former Cardinal players including Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen.
Grigson traded the 61st overall pick to Tampa Bay to acquire the top spot in the third round, which they used on Smith, and also swapped fourth-round picks with the Bucs to give them the No. 10 selection in Saturday's opening round.
Smith joins a solid core of cornerbacks led by Pro Bowler Vontae Davis, starter Greg Toler and nickel back Darius Butler. But he's not coming to town just to learn how to play in the NFL. He expects to compete for playing time.
''I can play anything, I can fit any scheme and I'm not talking arrogantly, I'm talking confidently,'' he said. ''My desire, my passion to be the greatest, my passion to win is greater than anybody's.''
The decision to take Smith, like the Dorsett selection, also could serve as insurance for the Colts.
While Davis is signed for three more years and Butler just re-signed for two, Toler's contract expires after next season when Indy faces some tough financial decisions including the likelihood of an expensive contract extension for Luck.
In 11 games last season, Smith had 53 tackles and one interception and finished his college career with 113 tackles and nine interceptions. He had seven interceptions in 2013 when quarterbacks still dared to throw in his direction.
Smith also was suspended for four games as a junior in high school for a series of illegal hits, which forced him to learn how to hit in a different way, and was benched in during his sophomore season at Florida Atlantic.
But that didn't dissuade the Colts from taking him.
''When you look at him, the movement skills and when he located (the ball), he could locate in the air,'' Grigson said of Smith. "He's got some thump for you, too, for a smaller guy. We feel great about this kid.''
Not bad for a new college graduate who is leaving school with a job already lined up.
''Man, it was an up and down day,'' he said. ''Woo!''
Indianapolis still has six picks left in the final four rounds Saturday.
NOTE: Indianapolis released veteran return specialist Josh Cribbs before the draft started Friday. Cribbs was signed late last season to upgrade Indy's return game but became expendable with the selection of Dorsett, who the Colts clocked at 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
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