The 2021 Senior Bowl, just like everything over the past year, has been markedly changed by COVID-19 protocols. With the efforts down in Mobile, Alabama, to run the event safely, prospect weigh-ins have been held without the usual audience; and the Senior Bowl account has been tweeting out the results in order. It’s not like it usually is, but it’s still pretty fun.
One prospect is notably missing: wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Unable to participate in the week’s football events after sustaining a finger injury in the College Football Playoff National Championship, Smith also didn’t walk the stage in Mobile, electing not to register a height and weight.
Smith selectively choosing that he wouldn’t register his weight is significant. It’s tough to think of an example of another player opting out of just one measurement at the Senior Bowl. The closest analogy in recent memory is Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who measured in at 5-foot-10 and 1/8th inches at the NFL Scouting Combine, and then elected not to take a height measurement a couple of weeks later at Oklahoma’s Pro Day. Murray’s height was the source of conspiracy theories through the entire 2019 NFL Draft cycle, and the fact that he only measured in once fanned those flames.
Smith’s weight won’t be so much of a conspiracy as it is an evident fact: He’s really light. We knew this before today. The 6-foot-1 Smith was listed at 165 pounds as a freshman at Alabama and never tipped the scales higher than 175. Usually, team sites inflate their players’ public measurements—events like the Senior Bowl and combine help teams and analysts get wise to the real numbers.
So, this is a situation in which no news is probably just that: no news. It’s not really bad news, though it’s definitely not good news. Smith is dodging that litmus test here, which tells us not only is his 175 light by NFL standards, it may be inflated relative to the real number. But realistically, Smith wasn’t going to show up in Mobile suddenly weighing 185 pounds. After four years in the Alabama strength and conditioning program, which is among the elite programs in the country, Smith has only added 10 pounds. It’s not for a lack of effort, a lack of oversight, or poor planning—some bodies just don’t gain weight. Smith’s a lanky player with narrow hips and long limbs. He simply doesn’t hold mass.
Smith will weigh in at Alabama’s Pro Day. He’ll have the next couple of months to hit a big number and likely will tip the scales above his 175-pound listing; though I doubt by much. But without a combine on this cycle, he’ll have to run his 40-yard-dash and complete the rest of his testing on that inflated weight. It is the most important measurement for Smith, but it won’t change the reality of his frame—it’s slight—and his weight—it doesn’t project to a successful NFL career.
With that reality entrenched, good on Smith for not weighing in. Any team that selects Smith (in the top 10 or out of it) will be betting on an outlier performance for a player of his profile; that bet will be predicated on just how elite his film is and how dominant he’s been for multiple seasons at the highest level of college play. The biggest feather in Smith’s hat, the feature of his profile as a prospect, will always be Smith’s tape. No matter what the scales read in March at Alabama, Smith will be drafted for his on-field product—not his measurables. The draft cycle is often called a prolonged job interview. Why not stick to your strengths and wave aside your weaknesses?
Smith’s arc on this draft cycle will be a wild ride, as his analytics and tape profile point in completely opposite directions. This is just the first bump in what will be a rocky road, and no matter what happened—good weight, bad weight, or no weight—the debate was going to continue to rage on Smith. If he somehow dodges the scales at Alabama, we’ll just continue with the same wondering and reach the same end: He’s a tough prospect to project.