NAME: Irv Smith
POSITION: Tight End
JERSEY: No. 82
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 243 lbs
Route-Running – Excellent route runner with good attention to detail in his stems. Varies pace to separate, but has a little too much throttle down before his break. Needs to hit cuts at full speed. Excellent vertical push and ability to step on defender’s toes before breaking off his pattern. Hip snap to quickly get his head around and find the football.
Ball Skills – Doesn’t have a massive radius or a ton of outside-the-frame catches on tape that suggest ball skill dominance with the rock in the air. Not a consistent high-point, full extension catcher, but still flashes strong hands to grab the ball before it gets into his frame. Wish there were more examples of him having to make high degree of difficulty catches on tape.
Speed – Not a burner, but more than enough speed to stretch the field. Worked in a vertical passing attack that should translate right away to a role in the slot of an NFL offense. Not explosive off the line of scrimmage, but builds up speed and can win over the top of a defense. Can be a slow-starter from an in-line position, occasionally a beat late off the ball. 4.6s would be a good time for him. Versatile usage as a receiver due to his movement skills.
Run Blocking – Elite run-blocking tight end. Has tons of experience in a diverse rushing attack and understands pro-level blocking schemes. Frames his target beautifully and rarely falls off contact. Runs his feet up under blocks and doesn’t settle for stalemates. Looks to finish consistently with hands inside and outstanding grip strength. Finds leverage points and controls blockers from snap-to-whistle. Understands runner’s angles and will work to seal off rush lanes completely. A little small for an in-line tight end, which occasionally manifests itself when taking on bigger edge defenders.
Contested Catch – Simply almost never asked to make contested catches. Made one high-point contested grab against Ole Miss that was a thing of beauty. Will have some natural limitations here due to lack of elite size and length. Wins more like Jordan Reed and Evan Engram as a receiver than by excelling above the rim. Whenever it’s been asked of him, he’s done well, but his tools don’t suggest this being a calling card.
YAC – Slippery and elusive post-catch. Doesn’t have the burst to destroy pursuit angles, but runs hard and has enough long speed to pull off breakaway runs. Determination after the catch and balance to ward off contact and stay on his feet is outstanding.
Separation Quickness – Good, not great quickness out of his breaks. Not an overly explosive player, so burst to separate is often not enough to win by itself. Needs his recently improved attention to detail as a route runner to separate consistently, slows a little too much into his breaks. Good job swimming contact down the field and improving his hands to detach from stickier man coverage.
Pass Protection – Not asked to stay in for pass protection often, but when he does, frames rushers well and is patient with his strikes. May give a little ground in mismatch situations against power players, but re-anchors quickly and has the strength and hand placement to keep them at bay.
Competitive Toughness – Physical, tough and relentless in his style of play. Brings it as a blocker and after the catch. No concerns here.
Athleticism/Size – Good, not great size for a tight end, but play strength and build is outstanding. I don’t think Smith is the ELITE athlete that many believe he is, but he’s still definitely athletic compared to most tight ends. Stretching the field will be a strength.
BEST TRAIT – Route-Running/Blocking
WORST TRAIT – Contested Catches (more of a question mark)
RED FLAGS – None
Not many tight ends in college football can hold a candle to what Irv Smith did this season for Alabama. 710 yards, seven touchdowns and an average of 16.3 yards per catch are all eye-popping numbers which led to Smith wisely bolting for the NFL following the National Championship Game. There his athleticism, smooth routes and strong blocking skills should translate quickly into a versatile starting tight end.
While Smith may lack elite explosiveness, he still has the speed to win vertically as a flexed receiver while being one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft. The risk of drafting him is minimal, especially if he tests as well as expected. Smith may never be a top 2-3 tight end in the NFL, but he’s fully capable of being among the best in the next tier.
Routes – Accelerates quickly into his route stem but also flows with good pace. Can quickly get over top of linebackers and generates good vertical push in his release despite lacking a true second gear. Adjusts well to find space and attack leverage. Invites contact at the top of his routes, sometimes to a fault. Can require too many steps to slow down and work into his breaks.
Hands – Showcases soft and reliable hands while greeting the football with the proper techniques. Has show the ability to extend and secure the football firmly away from his frame. Naturally hauls the ball in over his shoulder.
Ball Skills – Was never truly tasked in 50/50 ball situations and generally makes plays with good separation and not in contested situations. Does well to track the football and adjust to its course, particularly with his back to the line of scrimmage. Never looks uncomfortable catching the football.
YAC Ability – Blend of play strength, competitive toughness and elusiveness makes him effective when creating after the catch. Rarely goes down on first contact and battles for additional yardage. Doesn’t have the burst to truly break pursuit angles but he has the speed needed to pick up chunks of yards.
Play Speed – Has the movement skills needed to work the seam and be a factor after the catch. Accelerates quickly but doesn’t have a true second gear at the top of routes or to simply run away from people. Smooth mover ini space. Good foot quickness helps him reach landmarks as a move blocker.
Play Strength – Holds his own exchanging power with defensive ends in the trenches. Plays with excellent leverage to maximize his play strength. Illustrates good contact balance and body control. Grip strength is excellent with the clamps are set. Breaks through contact as a runner, im the contact window as a route runner and at the top of routes.
In-line Blocking – Has dominant moments on tape turning out defensive ends and winning as a drive blocker. Does well to play with good leverage, fit his hands and accelerate his feet. Stays square, but also takes advantage of angles to eliminate his man from plays.
Space Blocking – Thrives lead blocking into gaps and on the move. Plays with excellent body control and takes good angles to connect with consistency. Does well to roll his hips through contact and create space. Reliable in short yardage and on the perimeter in bunch sets when a key block is required.
Versatility – Can do anything a team would need a tight end to do in terms of blocking and receiving as an in-line option, flexed or out of the backfield. Offers receiving upside at all levels of the field.
BEST TRAIT – Versatility
WORST TRAIT – Second Gear
RED FLAGS – None
Smith had an outstanding final season at Alabama, offering major contributions as both a blocker and a receiver. A versatile weapon, Smith is capable of filling any role asked from a tight end. Whether he’s lined up in-line, flexed or out of the backfield, Smith has outstanding blocking ability with potent receiving upside. While he doesn’t offer top end play speed, his quickness and technical refinement make him a difficult matchup for opposing defenses. Smith has the ceiling of a high quality starter in the NFL that can lineup anywhere in the formation and make an impact.
Route Running –Really crafty getting off the LOS to stack jams. Shows good tempered pace to allow mesh and scissor concepts to allow defenders to get sucked out of position. Gets in the blind spot vs. off coverage well and loses safeties in man to man.
Hands – Shows good concentration over the shoulder and does well to see the football into his hands. That said, doesn’t really offer a lot of flashes in the catch radius, but that’s not to say he’s incapable of catching when tested away from his numbers.
Versatility –Two-way player as a blocker and a receiver. Impressive blend of route running, run after catch skills, blocking from in-line and also on the perimeter. His skills flexed into the slot allow him to bust the seam or be effective in screen game to the boundary.
Contested Catch Ability –Not often tasked with playing through contact at the catch point. Like his concentration and has done well when tracking the football to adjust late and win body positioning, not one to telegraph his intention when tracking the football.
Run After Catch Ability –Speed is good, but not great. He’s a bit of a short strider but when he’s in the open field and able to build speed he can pull away from safeties and linebackers. Good with the free hand to wall off a defender in the open field. Has nice wiggle and head fakes to create false steps.
Power At POA – He’s sticky at the point of attack. Really like his hand power to stay attached and shows good lateral quickness and functional strength in the lower half to not get bullied or bubbled back. Holds his own perfectly well from in-line position.
Competitive Toughness – Has next level strength, both as a blocker at the LOS and in the open field when smaller defenders are looking to cut him down. Love his RAC efforts, shows good contact balance. Power isn’t overwhelming in drive blocks but rarely caught pressed back into backfield.
Flexibility – Pad level and hip level are effective, not one to get busted with too much surface area. Like his mobility through the torso to work his eyes back to the football. Dynamic base to carry speed through his breaks and create snap/separation in the secondary.
Balance – Contact balance after the catch is phenomenal. Has toed the sideline to pick up extra yards, pinballed off defenders and won positioning as a blocker to win leverage. Body control is always consistent and rarely tossed or discarded by physical challenges.
Football Intelligence – Wonderfully developed, hard not to appreciate his overall game and complete influence of the team’s offense as a first-year starter. His lack of experience shouldn’t warrant any concern, he understands finer points of leverage, positioning and route running.
BEST TRAIT – Route Running
WORST TRAIT – Explosiveness
BEST FILM – LSU (2018)
WORST FILM – Georgia (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Irv Smith projects favorably as a modern day tight end. Smith has consistent flashes in the receiving game and will enter the league with blocking chops as well. There’s not a lot of cons to Smith’s profile, he’s a very well rounded player who should be able to transition quickly to the pros. Smith’s ceiling is as a Pro Bowl caliber Tight End, his well rounded skills will enable him high snap percentages and his versatility as a receiver will allow him to excel in nearly any offense.