A part of a struggling South Carolina offense, wide receiver Shi Smith was one of the bright spots for the Gamecocks over the last couple of seasons, posting over 2,200 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns during his career. Smith checked into the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl at 5-10 even and 186 pounds, making his designation to the slot position all but verified. Of note, Smith does boast 9 6/8’ hands that do show up on film, where he has flashed the ability to make plays in contested catch situations. The Union, South Carolina native has been noted to be an outstanding leader from those around the South Carolina program, with a competitive streak and a noted trash talker. Smith decided on the Gamecocks over other offers including Alabama, Appalachian State, Clemson and Kentucky among others.
Continuing the trend of talented wide receivers coming out of the University of South Carolina, Shi Smith follows on the line of Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards as versatile playmakers on the outside. With a smooth athletic profile, including short-area explosiveness and straight-line speed, Smith is a tough cover for opposing defensive backs. He is a crafty route runner who has a clear understanding of blind spots in coverage and how to attack leverage. After a bit of a down 2019 season, Smith responded in a big way during 2020. Smith is a YAC monster who presents a headache in post catch situations, using his natural athleticism to navigate the open field. In a strong 2021 wide receiver group, Smith has the traits to be one of the more coveted slot receivers in the entire class.
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Boasting a smaller frame, Smith may be limited to slot duties on the next level. With a small catch radius and limited ability to work against press coverage, this hurts his alignment versatility. Consistency has been sporadic for Smith, disappearing far too often on film, especially during the 2019 season.
After what appears to be a dynamic showing during Senior Bowl week, Smith has an arrow pointing up on his draft stock. Although he may be looked at as a “slot only” type of player at the next level, he has the type of nuance, short-area quickness and hand strength that will quickly make him a quarterback’s best friend. When all is said and done, a pick somewhere on Day Two seems reasonable for Smith.