Devin Smith   WR/ST   Ohio St


Devin might be one of the smartest receivers in this draft. He understands his athletic talent and limitations. He is quick and a very smart route runner who reads defenses like a quarterback. He doesnít have the size to be a #1 receiver, but he knows it and accepts it. What he DOES have, however, are the athletic skills and talents to be an impact receiver. Devin has excellent hands and a long stride for his size that makes it easy for him to catch the deep ball with the consistency that not many speed receivers have. He can run all the routes and against zone coverage, he is a weapon because of his ability to get behind the zone and still grab the deep catch that makes a defensive coordinator scream obscenities at his defense. Devin is the type of player you see on film and think you can easily defend and then during the game, he destroys your game plan because he is faster, quicker, smarter, and a much better route runner than what you thought you saw of him on film. He reminds me a lot of former Buffalo Bills receiver, Don Beebe, who was the key chess player Jim Kelly used to move around the offense to read and manipulate defenses in the glory years of the Billsí No Huddle offense. Devin has that same type of sneaky speed and quickness that you have to adjust your defense for on every passing play. He has quick feet that make it easy for him to get separation along with the football intelligence to change gears while running his routes to fool the defender into thinking he can stay with Devin and then all of a sudden, Devin is behind his defender or separating and catching the ball for big gains or a touchdown. Like I said he just might be the smartest receiver in this draft.

Devin doesnít have the size or bulk to be your #1 receiver and he lacks the run after the catch size and strength that so many offenses use now, but that doesnít mean he wonít be an impact receiver because he is smart and will lull you to sleep in the middle of a game, making the defense thinking that he is not.

In the days of the first no huddle offense used as a main offense in the NFL, Jim Kelly used Don Beebe like a chess piece moving him around the offense to open defenses for those long running plays for Thurman Thomas and crossing routes for Andre Reed. Against zone or man-to-man coverage, Kelly knew that defenses had to account for Beebe with more than one player. Devin is like Beebe because he can get behind the defense in man-to-man coverage or zone coverage unless you double him. You might be able to knock Devin (or Beebe, at the time) off their routes because of their size, but that is after the snap of the ball. Before the snap, a defense has to shade a safety in zone coverage or drop a safety back deeper to account for their sneaky speed or that defense will get burned. When that happens, Kelly would go to the crossing route, up the slot to the tight end or to a running play to Thomas on the same side of the field where the safety was forced to react because he isnít able to help out in the running game. Look at it this way: you put Devin in motion, you identify man-to-man coverage with the safeties playing 2 deep. The safety on the side Devin is going to has to drop deeper to help out the man coverage. That opens up the slot down the hash marks or a crossing route underneath that safety. If the safety doesnít drop or shade to double Devin quickly enough, bam! Devin beats his man down the sideline and you have a deep pass or touch down because Devin is so very consistent at catching the ball deep and such a sneaky route runner just like Beebe was. Oh, and by the way, you select Devin in the draft and you have just drafted the best gunner for your special teams in this draft also. Think about that.

Drew Boylhart