There's no doubt that DeVonta Smith will be taken in the first round of the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. It's just a question of how early the Heisman Trophy winner will hear his name called. Smith had a season for the ages this past fall and is slated to become the fifth straight Heisman recipient to be drafted in the first round.
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DeVonta Smith Draft Profile
Overshadowed by Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III early in his Alabama career, Smith showed he was a true No. 1 with a Heisman-winning senior season. He’s an exceedingly sudden mover, getting 0-to-60 in a flash. That initial quickness allows him to escape press coverage and create immediate separation. He’s one of the best route-runners in the draft, a smooth and fluid athlete who gets in and out of breaks without gearing down. He shows an understanding for leveraging defensive backs and creates separation with ease. He has the straight-line speed to threaten downfield, and his ball-tracking skills are outstanding. He’ll adjust to the off-target throw and offers a larger downfield catch radius than his size and body type might suggest. He flashes vertical leaping skills and the sense of timing to high-point the ball effectively in contested-catch situations. He’s competitive in catch-and-run situations, with the speed and suddenness to make short throws into long gains.
Smith is slight, and he might be limited when it comes to working the middle of the field, where physical defensive backs will likely be able to re-route him early in his career. While he tracks the ball well over his shoulder, he too often lets it get into his frame on in-breaking routes, which will cost him when making catches in traffic between the numbers. Ultimately, he needs space to maximize his effectiveness.
He might not have the size and functional strength to be a classic X-receiver, but as a smooth, fast and quick route-running specialist who is incredibly slippery with the ball in his hands, he’ll play like a No. 1 receiver at the next level.
Final Grade: 1st round