The Iowa Hawkeyes will send two wide receivers to this year’s NFL Draft. Although Ihmir Smith-Marsette has drawn attention, don’t sleep on Iowa’s Brandon Smith in this deep 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver class. Has the under-the-radar pass catcher got the opportunity to develop beyond his meager college production?
Brandon Smith NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Iowa
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’1 3/8″
- Weight: 218 pounds
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Tony Pauline’s Brandon Smith Scouting Report
Positives: Nice-sized receiver who flashes ability. Sells routes, uses his hands to separate from defenders, and tracks the pass in the air. Adjusts to the errant throw, gets down to scoop up low passes, and possesses eye/hand coordination. Follows the quarterback across the field then extends his hands and nicely makes the reception on crossing patterns.
Negatives: Must pick up the blocking intensity and plays to one speed. Does not show a burst in his game despite his 40-time and lacks a second gear.
Analysis: Smith possesses the measurables to play at the next level and flashes pass-catching ability, but he lacks consistency. He comes with an upside but must quickly elevate his game to have any chance to stick on an NFL roster.
Brandon Smith Player Profile
Although he approaches the 2021 NFL Draft with apparently very little attention, Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith was a high school standout. The Lake Cormorant native was a three-year starter on the high school football team.
However, his athletic achievements were reserved solely for the gridiron. A track star, he made high jump finals as a junior before emerging as a state champion as a senior. He put that athletic ability to good use on the field.
Although he played to a high level as a sophomore — earning First Team All-Conference honors– his junior and senior seasons were incredibly productive. As a junior, he turned 47 receptions into 750 yards and 7 touchdowns. He leveled up as a senior with 1,509 yards and 19 touchdowns. Both seasons he earned First Team All-State honors while being named Class 5A Region I Offensive MVP.
Despite his outstanding production, Lake Cormorant wasn’t a heavily recruited area. In turn, neither was Brandon Smith. He attracted some “Group of 5” offers before being discovered by Iowa. The Hawkeyes made an offer in May 2016, and despite late interest from Vanderbilt, he enrolled in 2017.
Brandon Smith’s college career at Iowa
Unfortunately for Brandon Smith, the high school production was nullified by the Iowa offense. As a result, he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft as one of the least productive wide receivers in a deeply talented class.
Smith made his debut against Iowa State as a freshman in 2017. He would record his first reception as an Iowa wide receiver against North Texas. Despite playing in multiple games, Smith had limited opportunities. As a result, he ended his freshman year with just 10 yards from 3 receptions.
As a sophomore, he would get more opportunities to showcase his skill set. He made 12 starts, missing just one game with injury. Smith snagged his first career touchdown against Maryland and his second in the season finale against Nebraska.
Although he ended the season with just 361 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, his sophomore season provided a demonstration of his potential. A circus catch on the sideline versus Minnesota — despite battling pass interference — introduced him to the world.
Another highlight-reel catch against Penn State — this time in 2019 — offered a further glimpse of his playmaking ability. His junior season was the most productive of his college career. Despite missing four games due to injury, Smith logged 439 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. In addition, he tallied the only 100-yard receiving game of his career against Purdue.
He would end his Iowa career with just 231 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns as a senior. Like the majority of his Hawkeyes’ career, inconsistent quarterback play and a run-focused offense limited his opportunities to excel.
Following the end of the 2020 college football season, Brandon Smith opted to forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Brandon Smith’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
In a deeply talented 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver class, Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith could offer great value in the later rounds. Despite his lack of college production, he has demonstrated that he has a skill set that translates well to the NFL. He projects to be an outside receiver where he can use his height and jump ability to be a dangerous contested-catch threat.
At his pro day, Brandon Smith turned heads with a top-tier athletic performance, earning a Relative Athletic Score of 9.16. Among other numbers, he registered a 4.64 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical, a 130-inch broad jump, and 21 bench reps.
Teams with a need at the position include the Washington Football Team, Green Bay Packers, and Detroit Lions. However, there are multiple teams that will look to add a wide receiver late in the 2021 NFL Draft. This is where you can expect him to provide great value.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.