Drew Boylhart 3/09
Alphonso Smith CB Wake Forest
Alphonso has good bulk, strength and speed to play his position. He has excellent quickness and is a very smart football player who understands situational football. He shows leadership skills through his play on the field and can make impact interceptions within the context of the game plan. Alphonso does not have to desert his assignment to make a big play. His skills as a CB are some of the best in this draft and he should be able to impact in the return game on special teams. The problem is that Alphonso has one big flaw to his overall playing abilities.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
Alphonso is not a form tackler. He must become a form tackler or he will be a liability in coverage in the open field. He will struggle against the big run-after-catch (RAC) WR's. He must learn to tackle like Antoine Winfield because Alphonso is vertically challenged. Head up, wrap up, squeeze and drive is the only way Alphonso becomes a Pro Bowl CB.
TALENT BOARD ROUND 2
I know everyone is in love with this kid because of his talent and size. We all want to see the little guy show up the big guy. I do too, but -- Alphonso, as of this writing, is not a good enough tackler to be a #1 CB who can cover any size WR. That is not to say that he will not be a very good CB but a 1st round CB you have to be able to cover all sizes of WR's. Alphonso is not a liability on the fade pattern like so many might think. He is smart and plays the situation very well. Alphonso has to improve his tackling techniques to handle the big WR's who will curl, use crossing patterns and stop and go patterns against him. Add to this big WR's who will settle in his zone and then burst through his tackles and you can now understand my concerns. It's these patterns in the open field that will cause him problems. So I have to go against the grain once again and tell you all that Alphonso has better cover skills than Antoine Winfield; however, because he can't tackle as well as Winfield, this makes him a good #2 CB who can shut down the small WR's but will struggle in the open field with the strong WR's. If he improves his tackling techniques, then yes, he will prove me wrong because he does have big play ability and should be a big impact player on special teams. All that being said, it would not surprise me if Alphonso sneaks into the first round. He is a joy to watch.