The Iowa Hawkeyes are not well known for producing speedy, explosive, pass catchers that are drafted to the NFL. This year may just be a little different. Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is an exciting and creative 2021 NFL Draft prospect who looks set to be the first receiver drafted from the Hawkeyes since Marvin McNutt in 2012.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Iowa
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 179 pounds
A high school water polo player, football was a secondary consideration for 2021 NFL Draft prospect Ihmir Smith-Marsette. It wasn’t until he transferred to Weequahic High School that football became his priority sport. Even then he split time with track commitments, showcasing speed and agility as a hurdler.
As a junior in 2015, he logged 5 receptions for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns as a pass catcher. On the other side of the ball, the high school cornerback returned an interception for a touchdown. Displaying his all-around skillset that will make him a valuable commodity in the NFL, he also returned a punt for a touchdown.
Although he reportedly snagged 38 receptions for 773 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, his performances as a cornerback were as impressive. Smith-Marsette registered 43 tackles, 3 interceptions, returning one for another touchdown. Another three touchdowns came from kickoff and punt returns.
A three-star high school prospect, he was ranked as just the 165th cornerback in the class. An early offer came from Boston College, but in-state Rutgers led the way.
Having committed to the Scarlet Knights in 2016, he took a visit to Iowa in early January. From there, his recruitment became a messy affair. He de-committed from Rutgers, committed to Minnesota, then de-committed from the Gophers. Finally, in February 2017, he committed to Iowa.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s college football career at Iowa
An under-recruited high school prospect, and potentially under the radar 2021 NFL Draft prospect, Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette made an immediate impact for the Hawkeyes. In just his second game as a freshman, the explosive pass catcher snagged two touchdowns to give the Hawkeyes a win over Iowa State.
Although they would be the only touchdowns of his freshman campaign, another dimension was added to his game at the end of the season. Over the final three games of the year he returned kickoffs to the tune of 33.5 yards per return. In just four kickoff returns, he achieved 134 yards, almost the same as his season receiving yards.
As a sophomore, he added 361 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. The third came in the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State in a game where he would set a career-high for a single game in kickoff return yards with 150. Additionally, his career game set an Outback Bowl record for return yards.
His junior season would perfectly encapsulate what makes Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette an exciting prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft
As a junior, Smith-Marsette set career-highs in receiving yards (722) and touchdowns (5). His 16.4 yards per reception speaks to his deep play threat. However, he added another dimension taking 11 carries for 108 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Another two kick return touchdowns took him to double figures for the year.
In a shortened senior season, he still found time to show his explosion and creativity. The Iowa wide receiver had 4 receiving touchdowns and added another rushing touchdown. He went out with a bang in his final appearance, recording a career-high 140 receiving yards, snagging 2 touchdowns, and earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.
A backflip touchdown induced an injury in that game, unfortunately, bringing his college career to an end. On December 24th, Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s NFL Draft Profile
Creativity, speed, explosion, and versatility. These are the things that Ihmir Smith-Marsette brings to the 2021 NFL Draft. Although I couldn’t find a verified 40-yard dash time for the speedster, it isn’t out of the realms of possibility that he runs in the 4.4-second range at Iowa’s Pro Day. Bottom line, Smith-Marsette is not just fast, but his speed is explosive.
This perhaps goes back to his days as a high school hurdler. His explosion off the line of scrimmage is reminiscent to a sprinter exploding out of his blocks. His speed makes him a deep threat while his explosion helps him win on shorter pass plays. The defensive back has to prepare like he will burn him downfield. That allows Smith-Marsette to showcase great agility and footwork to work out-routes or comeback towards the quarterback.
The speed, explosion, and agility, make him a dangerous threat as a kick returner. He can easily make men miss in the open field and breakaway for big gains. This could be his biggest asset as it pertains to his NFL Draft stock in a deep wide receiver class. He is going to offer a team incredible value.
What are some potential concerns with Ihmir Smith-Marsette?
Like most NFL Draft prospects, Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is far from the finished product and he does come with some concerns. He isn’t the most physical player by any stretch of the imagination. Particularly in press coverage, he can be bullied at the line of scrimmage. He needs to learn how to use his hands better at the line, as well as showing more awareness pre-snap to mentally prepare how he can utilize his footwork to win.
He struggled early in his career with dropped passes. Although the quarterback play at Iowa hasn’t helped, he still needs to prove that he can be a consistently reliable pair of hands.
There are some off-field concerns too. The Iowa wide receiver was arrested for speeding and driving under the influence during his senior season. His arrest ultimately led to a one-game suspension by the program as well as him going through the Iowa Student Athlete Code of Conduct process.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is an exciting 2021 NFL Draft prospect who could thrive in the NFL depending on his landing spot. Although he played from multiple alignments for the Hawkeyes, Smith-Marsette most likely projects to play out of the slot in the NFL. He will ultimately have a starting role as a kick returner.
To get the most of his diverse skillset, he best suits on a vertical passing offense, but one that also manufactures touches for wide receivers on jet sweeps, etc. For me, he would fit nicely in the Kansas City Chiefs offense which is where he landed in my most recent mock draft for Pro Football Network.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists Ihmir Smith-Marsette as his 80th overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He gives the Iowa wide receiver a third-round grade and is his 12th ranked wide receiver.
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