The announcement came in the past week that Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith will be attending the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. While he will not suit up, DeVonta Smith will be with the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff all week. Pro Football Network’s Insider Benjamin Allbright discussed why this pairing is significant in this week’s edition of PFN Weekly.
Note: Want to be the first to hear inside information from PFN Insiders Tony Pauline and Benjamin Allbright? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notifications icon so you can tune in live when our insiders break the latest news and rumors from around the league.
DeVonta Smith has the opportunity to impress the Dolphins’ coaching staff in Senior Bowl week
The 2021 Senior Bowl has presented both the Dolphins and Smith with a rare opportunity. Usually, a 10-win team would not have the opportunity to coach at the Senior Bowl. However, thanks to the Houston Texans, whose pick the Dolphins own, the Dolphins will get significant exposure to one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft.
“That’s the one you can probably put in pencil right now is DeVonta Smith to the Dolphins, so I’m not moving off that at all. He’s very intelligent and understands that even though he’s not going to be playing, this is an opportunity to get in front of that coaching staff and make his case.”
Smith will get the opportunity to demonstrate that intelligence firsthand to the Dolphins’ coaching staff this week. While he may not be on the field, he will be partaking in meetings and discussions.
DeVonta Smith put together an incredible season in 2020
DeVonta Smith’s Heisman Trophy campaign was spectacular. It saw him amass 1,856 yards and score 23 receiving touchdowns. He also added one rushing touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. In the National Championship Game, Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns… in the first half alone.
However, there are still questions surrounding his status amongst the top three receivers in the draft class. Allbright provided an answer to those questions during PFN Weekly.
“I have Smith as wide receiver one in this class [and] I don’t think it’s particularly close either. He’s that five-tool receiver. He can do everything. He can return punts and kicks. He’s fine going horizontal and going vertical. He’s slick in and out of his cuts. And he’s a willing blocker in the run game.”
Smith’s stature is a concern
According to the official Alabama site, Smith measures just over 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. When you watch him play, he undoubtedly looks slight. However, while his size is perhaps not the prototypical WR1, his size does not seem to be a limitation for him.
There are times where he struggles to fight through contact, especially with bigger defenders. However, he mitigates these concerns with his intelligent play on the field. He will now get the opportunity to demonstrate that intelligence to the Dolphins coaching staff.
Smith is an ideal fit for Miami
DeVonta Smith’s fit with the Dolphins isn’t simply because of his relationship with the quarterback. Even if the National Football League generally appears to prefer Ja’Marr Chase, Miami needs a player with Smith’s skill set more. Cody Roark summed it up during PFN Weekly.
“The one thing I noticed, especially with Tua, was the fact they didn’t really have any receivers that could gain separation. That was an issue. Now, DeVante Parker was a great possession receiver. He and Tua had a lot of great chemistry in terms of being in the right spot. They have a great relationship. However, DeVante Parker is not the guy that’s going to gain you separation.”
Hence, why DeVonta Smith and Miami were a match made in heaven. Tua’s “gun shy” nature as a rookie likely has Miami looking to pair him with someone that can get open at will.
Both Smith and teammate Jaylen Waddle would be outstanding fits for the Dolphins, but Smith’s resumé is more consistent from a production perspective. Conversely, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is not a good fit for the Dolphins because his skill set is much more the type of receiver to win with sheer physicality and ability at the catch point than with separation.
Smith was the most impressive player in all of college football in 2020. There will be plenty of concerns surrounding his size in the coming weeks. However, the most underrated part about Smith is the physicality he brings to the table. He has fewer problems facing press coverage than Chase does, despite being 25-to-30 pounds lighter.
There is no doubt in my mind Smith can be a legitimate top-tier receiver at the next level. It seems as though he’s going to Mobile, Alabama to convince the Dolphins of the same thing.
Want more NFL news and analysis?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay up to date with all things around the NFL. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis concerning the 2020 season and beyond.