He weighed in at 166lbs and measured at 6’ even.
Previously he’d be listed around 175 and even that teams thought was too small. Now that we have official word that he’s 166, it has people wondering if he’s just too small to be an effective NFL receiver. I’m sure he’s sliding down draft board because of his size and there are probably even teams that have taken him out of consideration entirely.
On the one hand, Smith did dominate college football and win the Heisman at 166lbs. His weight didn’t seem to hold him back in college.
On the other hand, the NFL is a whole different animal. Is he going to be able to handle the punishment that’s coming his way when he reaches the pros?
Shoutout to SOG Football on Instagram for looking up the lightest wide receiver draft picks since 2000:
Only 16 guys weighed in under 170lbs, and there is not a good track record.
The one guy that stands out is DeSean Jackson. But Smith does not have the high-end burner speed Jackson has. He’s a different type of receiver.
He doesn’t have Hollywood Brown’s speed, either.
None of this to say Smith won’t be able to cut it in the NFL. There’s a first time for everything. Maybe he’s the guy that bucks the trend. Those other guys on the list did not have Smith’s overall pass-catching and route-running skills, so that’s an important thing to note.
But his weight is definitely a concern. I personally wouldn’t draft him in early in the first round. I’ve got him solidly behind both Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle.
You might say, “Well he can put on weight.” But it’s not that simple. If he gains 10-15lbs, he might not be the same player anymore.
And you can’t just assume you’ll get him up to 180 if you draft him; that’s not a risk you want to take in the first round. In the first round, you’re looking for guys who are ready to play now and who are freak talents. You take “projects” in the later rounds, not the first round. In the first round, you’re looking for guys who are as close to sure-things as you can get.
I personally like DeVonta Smith a lot as a football player. Even before he became a household name with his Heisman-winning season, I was a fan of his. When he caught the walk-off TD in the 2017 National Championship, I put him on my radar. Every time I’d watch Bama play, he stood out to me. I would always think to myself, “Damn, this #6 on Bama can play.”
But college is a whole different situation than the NFL.
It’s an extreme comparison, but for reference, Julio Jones is 6′ 3″ and 220lbs. That’s 54lbs heavier than Smith. Even Odell Beckham, who many consider a “smaller” wide receiver, is 5′ 11″ and 198lbs. Still 32lbs heavier than DeVonta Smith.
I was listening to an interview with former Panthers and Ravens legendary WR Steve Smith, who has a unique perspective on the situation as a fellow “small” guy, but Smith expressed some serious concerns. He pointed out that there’s a difference between size and build. Smith was only 5′ 9″, but he weighed 197 and was solidly built. This is the quote from the interview:
“If you’re playing football, and you’re in a fight in a phonebooth–that’s what wide receivers and DBs do on that island on the outside, pressed up. You gotta be able to take one and give one. And when I look at him, when I look at his stature, from his glutes down to his cankles, there’s not a lot of meat back there. He’s not thick. He’s fast, but what’s gonna happen when he’s going against a Jalen Ramsey, who’s 6′ 2” and 200-something pounds. And he’s 166, going against against a guy who’s 215lbs benching 225 25 times and he hits you one good time, and your little small shoulder pads come unbuckled, that’s gonna wear on you.
If he’s playing in a situation where there’s no motion and he has to beat his man one-on-one, yes, he did it in college. Hooray, that’s great. But that doesn’t guarantee to carry over into the NFL. And that’s why teams have a legitimate question about him. He’s got an opportunity to prove everyone including myself and everyone else who said he’s too light, and he can grow into his body. That will be up to the strength and coaching staff at any team he goes to. But it is a legitimate question when you’re talking about handing out millions of dollars.”
Smith did note that he himself was 5′ 9″ and 176lbs and there were lots of questions about him coming out of college. But he did put on over 20lbs, and said he got up to about 205 when he really started hitting the weights; unfortunately, he hurt his hamstring because he said his frame couldn’t handle that much weight, so he had to drop down to his ideal weight which was around 195-197.
Smith–Steve Smith, that is–also pointed out that DeVonta didn’t bench at his pro workout, so we have no idea how strong he actually is. It can’t be a good sign that he was unwilling to bench, because if he did and put out an impressive number of reps on 225, it would’ve gone a long way to alleviating NFL teams’ concerns about him. Instead, opting not to bench probably only made teams more concerned.
Still, though, at the end of the day, DeVonta Smith was a special, special football player at Alabama. He’s got loads of talent and no doubt there will be a team willing to take the risk on him and say, “We can get him into our strength and conditioning program and get him up to 185-190 while also ensuring he doesn’t lose any of the speed and quickness that made him so great.”
No doubt the team that drafts him is not going to allow him to step foot on an NFL field for a regular season game weighing 166lbs. They’re going to make him hit both the weight room and the team cafeteria hard.
Even though I said earlier I wouldn’t spend a high draft pick on him, I’ll definitely be pulling for him. He’s a great kid and a great football player and I want to see him succeed in the NFL.