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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB Zach Smith

  • The Draft Network
  • January 28, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - ZACH SMITH

Zach Smith’s career started at Baylor where he played for two seasons before transferring to Tulsa. He was given the opportunity to start games at both schools—he had his share of ups and downs. Smith’s best qualities are his size, arm strength, and toughness. He has the build of an NFL quarterback and has the arm strength to challenge tight windows and push the ball down the field. He’s a tough football player that has taken his share of hits but keeps battling and has played through injuries. With that said, Smith’s performance on the field has been erratic. He struggles with accuracy, handling pressure, decision-making, and he has a troubling amount of interceptions and fumbles under his belt. He doesn’t consistently work progressions or hit throws with anticipation, and he lacks the mobility to make things happen off-script. Smith is a low-end developmental quarterback that faces an uphill battle to stick at the next level. 

Ideal Role: Developmental backup

Scheme Fit: Air Coryell

FILM EVALUATION

Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: UCF (2020), SMU (2020), Cincinnati (2020), Mississippi State (2020) 

Best Game Studied: UCF (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: SMU (2020) 

Accuracy: Smith has poor accuracy. His passes, even when facing no pressure, are frequently off-target with erratic ball placement. The frustrating component is that he will occasionally flash a well-placed ball down the field, but he struggles to find consistency within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. His inconsistent lower-body mechanics and arm angle for his release likely contribute to these issues. 

Decision Making: Smith has to do a better job of protecting the football. His interception totals increased every season in college and his fumble numbers are egregious. He lacks spatial awareness and too frequently puts the ball in harm's way. He is a slow processor with a slow trigger, which invites contested catches. 

Poise: Smith never appears overly settled or comfortable in the pocket and he lacks the traits needed to win off-script. He crumbles under pressure, which is accentuated by inconsistency with his internal clock and lack of spatial awareness. 

Progression: Smith is willing to hang in the pocket and let routes develop, but he lacks the ability to consistently deliver throws with anticipation. He wants targets to be established as open before he pulls the trigger. His best moments come on schemed throws or when his first read is open. 

Release: Smith looks like a second baseman throwing to first base when throwing the football. His release is compact and efficient but his release point is low and his arm is oddly tight to his frame. 

Pocket Manipulation: Smith can make basic moves within the pocket but he isn’t going to slide around, elude rushers, and find platforms when things break down around him. He does do a good job of keeping his eyes down the field, but his spatial awareness is poor. 

Arm Strength: Smith has plenty of arm talent. He can generate the velocity needed to challenge tight windows and launch the ball down the field. He has an NFL arm, despite his mechanics and sequencing not being ideal.  

Mobility: Smith won’t be confused as a dual-threat guy. He lacks awareness as a runner and lacks speed and quickness. He is not effective outside the pocket or extending plays. 

Leadership: Smith earned the right to start games at both Baylor and Tulsa after a highly productive high school career in Texas. He appeared in command of the offense. Smith played through injury and demonstrated good toughness in college. 

Mechanics: Smith’s natural throwing mechanics are odd. He rarely gets his lower body into his throws and there is no consistency with his footwork. His sequencing is irregular and his arm angle when releasing the football is low. 

Prospect Comparison: Brad Sorensen (2013 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers) 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 63.5/100

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The Draft Network