NAME: Jaylen Smith
POSITION: Wide Receiver
JERSEY: No. 9
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 223 lbs
Separation Quickness – Not especially crisp out of breaks, lacking burst on horizontal cuts. While his foot fire and jab steps are mostly fluid, the break and drive phase of his cuts are lacking speed. Transitions can be sluggish.
Ball Skills – Smith extends to the catchpoint when its over his head, using his hands to corral the ball. Better when attacking touch passes over the middle, using his broad frame and long arms. However, too often attempts to use his body to catch passes. Unable to adjust to balls thrown below his waist and struggles to win through traffic and contact. Struggles when the catchpoint is disrupted, and inconsistent hands at best.
Speed/Burst – Seems like a passable athlete, but lacking any types of serious burst. Moves laterally well in his stems to avoid contact. Average speed considering his size, but I would be surprised if he dominates athletic testing.
Route-Running – Can seem lost at the top of his route despite shiftiness. Unsure of how to use his athletic ability in order to create consistent separation. Seems lost in order to defeat press coverage, generally an unsure route runner. On the vertical plane, rarely stacks the defensive back in order to create downfield passing windows. Will work into windows against zone coverage, nice ability when the quarterback extends the play.
Contested Catch – Lack of stacking and ball skills limits his ability in contested spots. His frame suggests that he should be dominant in this area, but his inability to track and adjust to passes and extend to the catchpoint results in too many incompletions.
Ball Carrier – One of his best attributes is his easy transition from receiver to ball carrier and body control to pick up yardage along the sideline. Immediately gets vertical as a ball carrier, and has the vision in order to see oncoming pursuit. Uses his lateral agility as a ball carrier, able to juke out potential tacklers. His ball security can be atrocious, holding the ball in one air with a ton of space between the ball and the five points of pressure.
Releases – Struggles to beat press coverage on a regular basis. Can get physically dominated by stronger defensive backs, getting bullied to the sideline and taken completely out of the play. Essentially no hand usage at the line of scrimmage allows contact to his frame on nearly every rep. Seems lost on how to beat press coverage, despite his plus lateral agility.
Blocking – A weakness in his game, Smith shows minimal effort as a blocker. Nearly no speed or effort in his stalk blocking, as his get-off is slow out of his stance. The viewer can tell exactly when Smith is blocking, as he stays in a compact stance and rarely bursts off the line of scrimmage. When he is able to contact the defensive back, there is nearly no lateral movement, foot speed, or physicality. Can get blown off the spot and finished by defensive backs.
Strength and Toughness – Gets beaten physically more often than he initiates contact. Built well, seemingly doesn’t lack strength. However, his play strength and intensity seem lacking.
Athleticism/Size – One of Smith’s redeeming qualities is his size and broad frame. At 6’4 and 223 pounds, he has the ideal physical profile for the next level. Will likely be an average athlete compared to receivers his size in the NFL.
BEST TRAIT – Physical profile
WORST TRAIT – Ball Skills
RED FLAGS – None
Increasing his receiving output in every year, Smith has been a critical piece in Louisville’s passing game and has major upside at the next level. Smith has averaged 16.9 yards per catch across his 116 career receptions and offers an impressive vertical receiving skill set for his size.
Smith is a smooth mover for his size with good quickness in and out of his breaks. It’s apparent that he knows how to attack coverage and find space to get open. He accelerates quickly out of his stance and generates strong vertical push in his stem. He attacks leverage advantages and spacing which leads to him getting loose in the secondary.
Smith showcases excellent ball skills and hands, always greeting the football with proper technique. He tracks the football precisely and does well to adjust to its trajectory. He effectively makes acrobatic catches that require his frame to contort and high levels of concentration to complete.
As a senior, showcasing an expanded route tree and consistency using his size at the catch point in contested situations is needed. There is another level of physicality that Smith can achieve as a route-runner to take more advantage of his imposing frame.
Smith will have to adjust to life without Lamar Jackson as a senior but if Jackson’s replacement Juwan Pass is smart, he’ll be looking Smith’s way early and often.