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Devin Smith: Tracking The Deep Ball

Our newest receiver can track that deep ball.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I've been watching some tape on Devin Smith over the last 24 hours, and I have to say that his ability to adjust to a deep pass and come down with the catch is just exceptional. Mike Mayock said he was the finest receiver at tracking the dep ball he'd ever evaluated and the NFL comparison was DeSean Jackson. I didn't watch a great deal of Ohio State games last year but just looking at his average would suggest he's made a living bringing in the deep ball:

Year Receptions Yards Average Touchdowns Long
2014 33 931 28.2 12 80
2013 44 660 15.0 8 90
2012 30 618 20.6 6 72
2011 14 294 21.0 4 40

It's obvious that he is fast, everyone knows that. However there have been many speed based players who have flopped. You need more than just speed to get by in this league. Luckily for us, Devin Smith is so much more than speed. We'll look into other aspects of his game over the course of the summer, he's good with the ball in his hands, he gives you good effort in the run game and his routes are pretty solid, he didn't run a go route every single down, but for the sake of this article, that's the area we're going to focus on.

Speed + Hands + Concentration + Body Control + Adjustment Ability +Jump Ball Ability = A very dangerous player

That's the equation I put together watching his highlights. I've put some gifs together from the draft breakdown footage of Smith from 2014, and I hope you'll see why I came to that conclusion with the equation above.

Here is a long touchdown catch against Wisconsin in 2014, there is much to like about this catch, but first of all lets just look at the catch as it happened:

Devin Smith

Now watching that full speed is impressive enough, it's one hell of a catch and at the end you can see his concentration, you can see his ability to adjust quicker than the defensive backs and you can see a combination of his hands and his body control. However what you don't really see in the video is his acceleration off the line and how he set his defender up to twist him around. He is then looking for the ball early, while maintaining his speed


This is just a great catch from start to finish. You can find 10-20 of these throughout his college career but if you think he's a one trick pony he's not and we'll be showing why he's not a one trick pony this week. If you want to see him tracking the ball over his shoulder, then all you need to do is fast forward that Wisconsin game and dive into his 2nd touchdown of the game: