By Adam Aniba
Draft Prospect Spotlight; Shi Smith
The situation at wide receiver for the WFT is, arguably, one of the top roster needs this offseason. Luckily for Washington, this year's crop is deep with a ton of talent at slot receiver. For the second year in a row Terry McLaurin led the team in all receiving categories and it wasn't close. Former Alabama UDFA Cam Sims showed promise during the stretch run of the 2020 season at the X receiver. Although Sims converted some critical 3rd down conversions in key wins, he has a tendency to disappear in games, while struggling to gain separation. Sims will likely have a role in the receiver rotation along with unproven small schooler Antonio Gandy-Golden, but their options at slot are bleak.
After showing some promise as the starting slot in 2019, Steven Sims Jr is no longer in the team's plans. At pick #19, top receivers Ja'Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith will be off the board, which will lead to Washington likely going for BPA at another position of need.
Washington and other receiver-needy teams will find future starters and potential gems on Day 2-3 of the draft. The Burgundy and Gold Report has a Day 3 prospect that could be the answer to Washington's woes at slot receiver.
4rd-5th Round Grade | WR| S.Carolina
Height: 5 feet, 10 inches
Weight: 186 lbs
Wingspan: 75 1/2 inches
Arm length: 31 1/4 inches
Hand size: 9 3/4 inches
Career Stats (42 games) 174 rec 2204 YR 13 td's 11.1 PR
2020 57 rec 633 YDS 4 td's 11.1 PR
Tale of the Tape
Strong hands, routinely snatches the ball away from defenders
Understands how to beat press coverage
Ability to redirect without without losing much deceleration
Fast and displays another gear when being chased from behind
Overall route running needs work, but his ability to gain separation will help him on the next level
TOUGH mentored by 49'ers WR Deebo Samuel and shows no fear going over the middle
Smith made 1 handed catches seem routine at South Carolina and continued that trend at the Senior Bowl recording 3 rec for 57 yards. His 32-yard catch in the game was the second longest reception of the day. His consistent separation against bigger and physical corners checked off boxes for scouts. The Gamecock receiver's stutter-step and double move, had defensive backs on skates all day week.
Smith has made a career out of making acrobatic adjustments to poor passes with highlight reel one handers. What separates him from other slot receivers in this class is his toughness. As mentioned in the tale of the tape, learning behind Deebo Samuel and Raiders receiver Bryan Edwards molded Smith into a" tough as nails" receiver, capable of scoring every time he touches the ball. Smith will leave S. Carolina ranked 4th all-time in receptions with 174.
Fit in Washington
Slot receiver is a glaring need for Washington since Jamison Crowder is the last consistent playmaker they had at the position. Ironically, Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network had the following to say about Smith.
"Some wow catches on his reel thanks to body control and sense of timing to high-point the football as necessary despite his lack of ideal stature for above the rim targets. Reminds me of some Jamison Crowder".
Shi Smith might remind some evaluators of Crowder, but he can be so much more. Smith checks in nearly 2 inches taller than Crowder and more durable. Similar to Crowder and even Santana Moss, Smith was used as a situational returner at S. Carolina returning 21 KR for 448 yards with a 21.3 return average. When asked why he didn't return punts, Smith mentioned he would try to convince coaches but he was needed more on offense.
Shi Smith is an ideal motion slot receiver for Scott Turner's offense, with room to grow. In previous drafts, Smith could be ranked as high as a top 90 prospect, but this draft is extremely deep, particularly at slot receiver. Washington will likely select a pass catcher in the early rounds, but if Smith is available in 4th round at #118, his ability on the next level might be too hard to pass up.
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*Official Senior Bowl measurements and Draft grades cross referenced with TDN grades
Written By Adam Aniba