Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado Buffaloes
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Jimmy Smith doesn't get a lot of publicity because he plays for a Colorado team that hasn't been relevant since the first George Bush was in office. His name should be mentioned more by teams that are looking for corners that strive in man coverage. Jimmy has great length at 6'2 and speed to be able to hold the most elusive receivers in man coverage. He likes to use his long, lanky arms to jam receivers at the line and throw off their timing; he also gets his arms around their body to poke out potential completions. Due to these attributes, he can completely take away the screen to his man.
He has the speed and length to get to the ball before the screen reaches its desired target. Smith is best at under-cutting routes and will take away the quick slant. This is a key factor in the pro game. He's committed to the game plan and has a dedication to his lane assignment to a level that's almost unheard of in the college ranks. He won't be caught over pursuing on reverses or play action plays.
Most of Smith's weaknesses have to do with two things, one being his size and the other his run defense. Jimmy has great coverage skills and uses his height to his advantage. He needs to add bulk to that 6'2 frame, though, and he's not physical against the run and shies away from contact. If there's a group of people, he'll be on the outside looking in and seems timid to get in the pile to mix it up. Even when he's in the right lane assignment to make the play against the run, he doesn't make the play. Either he allows the running back to elude him or he gets taken out by a blocker.
The first blocker always gets him and takes him out of the play; he can't get off the block at all. He reminds me of Deion Sanders in the sense that he has great size, speed, and coverage skills to go along with a ball-hawking ability, but the other side of Deion's game was that he never wanted that open field head-to-head tackle. He would let the offensive player pass by and then make the tackle from behind. Jimmy does the same thing in his game. Smith also has bad tackling fundamentals. On film, he appears to go high to make the tackle. Most of these concerns can get ironed out with a great defensive coordinator and a work horse of strength and conditioning coach. If he adds bulk, he should be fine.
It's reported that Smith only allowed 11 completions in man coverage over his junior and senior seasons and only one of those was for a first down. That's an amazing statistic. The Buffaloes report that Jimmy runs a 4.35 40 time, but that's unofficial until we see it at the Combine. The Combine uses an electronically timed system that starts at the slightest movement so, it can be expected he won't run a 4.35 but if he comes anywhere near the sub 4.45 range, his stock will skyrocket. He plays fast on film and I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull it off. There's been talk of moving Smith to safety at the next level. That would be a horrific idea. His lack of tackling ability would play to his weakness in the open field and would take away from his strength of coverage in man-to-man.
Potential NFL Team, Round
I have Jimmy Smith and Prince Amukamara a lot closer than what "experts" would like. It really depends on what teams are looking for in their corner to decide who'll be drafted first. If you are looking for a true coverage corner to take away the other receiver in the passing game, then I would take Smith over Amukamara. If you're looking for a run-stuffing corner that has flaws in the passing game, then I would take Amukamara. Corners go heavy from picks 20 - 32 in the first round and this would be a great landing spot for Smith. The Baltimore Ravens at 26 may take Jimmy Smith or the Green Bay Packers may look to steal him at 29. Both teams have a solid front seven that can make the tackles in the running game and do not need much help from the corners in this aspect. Baltimore's pass defensive isn't as feared as it once was, while Green Bay has an aging Charles Woodson that could mentor Smith.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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