NAME: Kaden Smith
JERSEY: No. 82
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 253 lbs
Route Running –Can be knocked around in tight spaces, is a long strider who doesn’t do well when he’s forced off his linear release. Best up the seam from slot and in-line when he’s not contested, otherwise has some lethargic breaks on hard angles.
Hands –A few gimme drops in contested situations, can let the ball into his chest instead of plucking it while fighting for real estate. Catch radius is notable and when comfortable extending for the football often shows ability to bail out his passer.
Versatility –Exposure to roles of all sorts but ideally is a vertical receiving threat first and foremost. Success hasn’t gone hand and hand with assignment and he’s not to be featured in a role that asks him to spend time in the backfield.
Contested Catch Ability –Extension skills and size are a true asset, especially when he’s boxing out defenders as they arrive. Has less success when the defender rides his hip through the target and is forces to play around a body to secure the catch.
Run After Catch Ability –Long strides in the open will enable some added yardage when he’s uncovered but generally lacks wiggle or mobility to shake free of an arriving defender. Play strength isn’t exceptional either and won’t pull through lateral challenges.
Power At POA –Appears lacking in lower body power and as a result is more of a mirror blocker than a drive blocker. Confident in combo blocks to work hip to hip. Will let his base narrow in one on ones and spin, losing ability to drive opponents off their spot.
Competitive Toughness –High hips lead to some struggles when tasked with playing through contact and can get rattled around trying to push up the seam on a stem. Functional power is not an exceptional trait and offers minimal value in short yardage.
Flexibility –Good rotation through the hips to work his numbers back to the football. Would like to see more hip drop at the top of stem or more aggression at the top of his stems to play with more speed and establish more snap/separation.
Balance –Struggles in an in-line role unless he’s tasked with sliding and steering defenders. Has been contacted and knocked off base with his route stems by linebackers and zone defenders looking to reroute his release up the field.
Football Intelligence –Knows all the tricks to work around contact. Awareness to flip his eyes back to the passer are effective, but will do so even at the expense of getting clipped by a squatting defender. Has no issue with assignments, needs to perfect his craft and add functional balance.
BEST TRAIT – Vertical Receiving
WORST TRAIT – Power at POA
BEST FILM – Washington State (2018)
WORST FILM – Notre Dame (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Kaden Smith is an intriguing TE prospect, but projects as a player that will need added developmental time before any expectations should be placed on him. Smith is pretty lethargic at the top of his stems and won’t inspire as a man beater in routes. Pretty specific skill set for immediate role, wins up seam vs. zone and as a sit-down target vs. soft zone. Smith has skills and promise but shouldn’t be tasked to play a large percentage of snaps until he fleshes out his game.
Route-Running – Has to improve at avoiding contact at the top of his routes and in his releases. Gets bullied around and knocked off patterns way too often. Runs a decent amount of routes in Stanford’s offense and has worked from an in-line and flex alignment. Well-versed vertical route runner who knows how to bend his patterns and find space against zone coverage.
Ball Skills – Strong hands and a big catch radius. Plucks outside his frame and gives the quarterback a lot of room for error. Smooth adjustments on throws high, behind and below him. High-points away from his frame and has flashed monster ability in the red zone.
Speed – Build-up speed pass catcher without a second gear. Not explosive off the line of scrimmage and struggled to detach vertically from man coverage down the seam. Mid-high 4.7s seems about right for him. Lower than that would be a decent hit to his stock.
Run Blocking – Technically he’s fairly sound, getting his hands inside, bending at the knees and locking out his hips to seal off defenders from rush lanes. Comes off the ball aggressive in flashes, and understands when to pass off combo blocks and work to the second level. Needs to get stronger, despite typically good technique, bigger, stronger defenders will discard him or play through him a little too easily. Notre Dame defensive ends were too much for him to handle. Aggressive edge defenders will blow him up on the edge if they get into his frame. May need to get stronger before he can make a big impact in this area.
Contested Catch – Impressive in contested catch situations, showing strong hands and the ability to work through contact to reel in tough catches when high-pointing the football. Absorbs shots at the catch point and hangs on. Key trait for him given his struggles to separate from man coverage. Knows how to post up defenders and go up and get it, but when defenders can work around him to contest driven throws, finishing issues arise.
YAC – Not really athletic or explosive enough to offer a ton after the catch. Doesn’t create enough separation to have space to work with post-catch. Elusiveness and strength to break tackles isn’t noticeable. Does fall forward through contact and shows awareness of where the sticks are.
Separation Quickness – Lacks explosive traits to separate from man coverage with ease. Linebackers played him tight and could typically mirror his breaks in space. Segmented mover who fails to alter stride length or be overly deceptive in his footwork. Doesn’t sink his hips and explode back to the ball. Tries to push off defenders at the top of the arc but isn’t really strong enough to dictate terms like that, outside of the fact it’ll also get him flagged.
Pass Protection – Hardly ever asked to help in pass protection in three games I watched. Didn’t have any issues when he was, but strength concerns could manifest themselves in the NFL if asked to handle bigger defensive ends.
Competitive Toughness – Has flashes of aggressiveness as a run blocker that get you excited, but it needs to be more consistent. Plays big boy ball at the catch point, but off the line of scrimmage and at the top of his route is a punching bag. Has to get more aggressive in his demeanor snap-to-snap.
Athleticism/Size – Excellent frame and length for the position, but is a little slight and needs to add some bulk at the NFL level. Appears to be an average at best athlete on tape and may not have the upside to excite coaches in that area.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills
WORST TRAIT – Separation Quickness
RED FLAGS – None
Kaden Smith has ideal size and length for the tight end position, which aids him in his one redeeming trait: his ability to go up and high point the football despite contestation. Unfortunately Smith finds himself in that situation a lot, as he struggles mightily to separate from man coverage and is physically dominated too often in his routes.
If Smith had more athleticism or explosiveness I’d still be on board with taking him day two to develop, but I found him average at best in those two areas, while also being just an adequate blocker. His ball skills are tantalizing as a no. 2 tight end who can make an impact in the red zone, but I don’t know that Smith will ever be much more than that given his limitations.
PROS: Clearly a physical specimen with NFL size and athleticism. Has easy burst off the line of scrimmage and can shoot out of his breaks to instantly creating throwing windows. Has elevate ability and the concentration to attack the football with strong mitts through contact and bring it in securely to the ground (ensuring he gets one foot down as well). Not afraid of going up across the middle and exposing his body to shots. Has elite adjustment abilities for a tight end and can twist and contort frame to get to inaccurate balls up and away from him. Locates the ball’s flight path and will play bully ball to get to it. Currently a mixed bag as far as blocking: has good natural power, but technique and choices are poor.
CONS: Not a good route runner yet in his young development. Can take far too many stutter steps at the top of the route, or fail to lace any deceit whatsoever into route stem. Expects his size/athleticism to win him the leverage battle to the catch point. Does not expect contact to come when climbing through the levels and will get disrupted badly by average contact; must learn how to win with hands to separate down the field when working through zones. Can take a bit of time to get into and out of sharp breaks because of hip drop issues. Good defenders win his chest early in blocking reps and can control him from there; again, learning good hand usage a must. More tape needed.