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Terell Smith
NFL Draft

Terell Smith NFL Draft 2023 Prospect Interview

  • Justin Melo
  • March 20, 2023
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Minnesota cornerback Terell Smith has attached a jetpack to his pre-draft stock. Smith was outstanding at the Shrine Bowl, displaying lockdown coverage abilities. Smith also reached 21.37 MPH at Shrine, per Zebra Technology. Smith then went to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 1.50 10-yard split.

Smith recently spoke exclusively with the Draft Network about his experience at Shrine and the combine, which teams have shown interest in his services throughout the pre-draft process, and so much more. Teams that covet size and athleticism at the cornerback position could possess a top-100 grade on Smith.

JM: What was your experience like at this year’s Shrine Bowl?

Terell Smith: I had a good experience at the East-West Shrine Bowl. It gave me an opportunity to showcase my abilities in front of a lot of NFL decision-makers. I also got a chance to compete against out-of-conference players that I didn’t compete against at Minnesota. That was a lot of fun for me.

JM: You were outstanding at Shrine, and then you lit the world on fire at the NFL Scouting Combine. You ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 1.50 10-yard split, which are excellent times for your 6-foot, 204-pound frame. You also had a 10-foot-10 broad jump. Do you feel like you surprised some people in Indianapolis?

Terell Smith: I don’t think that’s for me to say because I don’t really know what people were expecting from me. I feel like I just went out there and put my best foot forward. I put myself in good positions throughout the athletic testing portion.

JM: Have you noticed an uptick in attention since then?

Terell Smith: I have, yes. I just feel like more teams are reaching out to me now. I definitely have a busier schedule as far as team meetings go. I’m hearing from more coaches and things of nature.

JM: Speaking of, who are some of the teams you met with formally, and do you have any more interviews or visits coming up?

Terell Smith: I had formal interviews at the combine with the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers. I had informal interviews with everybody else. I have in-person visits with the Washington Commanders and Minnesota Vikings. I was also invited to the Atlanta Falcons’ local pro day.

JM: There’s a ton of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. I thought your ball production took a step forward in 2022. You had seven pass breakups, totaling 20 for your career. You also had two interceptions in 2022. Was there an emphasis on getting your hands on the ball more this year?

Terell Smith: Yeah, that was something I wanted to do more of in 2022. I needed more production, I needed to get my hands on the football with more frequency. I wanted to show everybody that I’m capable of making plays on the ball.

I focused on it. I really just focused on having better technique in general though. I wanted to be better at the line of scrimmage. Those plays just started coming my way because I played with better technique. I was able to make those plays.

JM: Does Terell Smith prefer to play man or zone coverage?

Terell Smith: Me personally, I like man coverage. I just feel like I’m a physical press-man corner. If you asked me to define my identity as a cornerback, that’s what I would say. I’m physical and aggressive. I thrive in press-man coverage. I love getting in a receiver’s face.

JM: I’ll put you in a scenario then. Say it’s 3rd-and-long with the game on the line. Do you prefer to be manned up against the best receiver, or in zone coverage with a chance to make a play on something near the sticks?

Terell Smith: If it’s 3rd-and-long and we’re talking about that situation, I would rather be playing zone coverage and trying to make a play on the ball.

For that scenario, I don’t feel like it’s smart to be manned up on 3rd-and-long. You’d want your cornerbacks to have zone eyes on the quarterback. Watch the quarterback, sit at the sticks, and drive on the ball.

JM: I love that. Do you approach bigger, more physical receivers differently than you do smaller, shiftier ones?

Terell Smith: No, I wouldn’t say that I approach them differently. With those bigger receivers, it’s easier for me to get my hands on them. With the smaller, quicker receivers, it’s more about moving your feet.

It’s more feet than hands with those quicker receivers. The bigger guys, you can get more physical with them at the line of scrimmage. I feel like it all plays out the same by the end of the route. That’s why I don’t really approach them differently. It may be a bit different at the whistle, but I don’t see a big difference after the whistle.

JM: We’ve appreciated your time today. What kind of impact is Terell Smith going to make at the next level?

Terell Smith: I’m a versatile defender that can play at all levels of the backend. I can play boundary corner and nickel. I can play some safety as well. I can play every phase of special teams as well. I can make a big impact on the game in general.

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Justin Melo