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.