Lacks ideal balance and footwork when asked to play in off-coverage. Doesn't sit into his drop nearly as well and will get overextended when asked to change directions. Nevertheless, exhibits impressive natural fluidity for his size, with the ability to cleanly open up his hips and get back up to speed quickly when asked to close on the football. Generates a good initial burst for himself initially and knows how to under cut throws from the trail technique. Will lose a half step when asked to turn and run down the field and does look more comfortable with his hands on receivers, but exhibits above average speed for his size.
Now, isn't nearly as impressive as a tackler when asked to click and close on completions in front of him. Struggles to break down in space and has a tendency to overrun the football. Is a decent wrap-up guy who uses his long wingspan to get into ball carriers in tight quarters. But he doesn't tackle with much leverage and is more of just a drag down guy in space.
Impression: His overall coordination combined with his length and ability to smoothly use both hands to press off the snap really reminds me some of Nnamdi Asomugha. Now, he isn't quite as polished or balanced with his footwork at this stage and doesn't tackle nearly as well, but he definitely has the kind of length and fluidity to mature into one of the better press corners in the NFL."
Man Coverage: Physical press corner. Not afraid to extend his hand (usually his left) at the line of scrimmage to keep receivers from getting into his route. Maintains contact throughout the five-yard area. Lined up against opponents' biggest receiver, playing outside and in the slot. Flashes good feet in his pedal, but could be lower and more balanced. Must keep his feet moving as receivers approach when playing off; they eat up his cushion quickly. Flips open to trail even if he plays outside leverage and the receiver runs inside. Uses long arms to reach in front of receivers to knock away passes without interfering. Uses strength and good timing to dislodge the ball from his man while he tries to secure the catch. Fast enough to stop quick screens behind the line when playing off. His hands for the interception are improving, but work needs to be done. Needs to tighten up his footwork when transitioning from pedal to plant-and-drive.
Zone Coverage: Good awareness in zone coverage. Comes off receivers leaving his area to pick up underneath routes. Stays between two receivers on the outside if he sees his safety help has been taken away by seam routes, but will end up in no man's land occasionally not trusting over-the-top help. Attacks receivers in front of him. Size makes him difficult to for receivers to avoid after the catch. His height and vertical make throwing over him and in front of safeties perilous.
Closing/Recovery: Combines speed with length to close on the ball. Good recovery speed for his size, can flip his hips and wrap up receivers in trail coverage. His height and ability to find the ball in the air prevent quarterbacks from challenging over the top. Undercuts crossing routes by closing hard and extending; also takes chances NFL quarterbacks can exploit.
Run Support: Owns prototypical size to be a run stopper on the edge. Effective as a wrap-up or cut tackler. Knows to chase at a deep angle to prevent touchdowns on runs to the opposite side of the field. Usually gets outside position to force plays to linebackers, showing quickness to move around his man, but needs to be more violent with his hands to disengage from the blocks of larger receivers to make tackles.
Tackling: Physical tackler with NFL size and excellent length to wrap, but must get more consistent in the open field. Able to knock away passes and force fumbles while he wraps up receivers. Must drop his hips and break down more quickly attacking ballcarriers on the run, as they can elude him with a quick move or slip off when he tries to tackle shoulder pads.
Intangibles: Maturing player taking over as a leader on the field, directing teammates. Began studying film before his junior season. Missed first two games in 2008 due to injury. Suffered concussion against Baylor in 2010."
Ball Skills: May not have the best of hands, but knows how to get his body in position to make a play on the ball. Uses his long arms to his advantage here reach around receivers to bat the ball away. Had only two interceptions over his last two seasons of college football.
Body control: Displays a smooth, compact backpedal. Rarely gets his feet tangled up, but has a good side-pedal to turn and run easier with receivers. As mentioned above, Smith can get off balance when he has to quickly turn his hips and change direction.
Instincts: When he's lined up in man coverage, Smith shows good awareness of route progression which allows him to mirror receivers. Likes to be aggressive and push guys around in the first five yards.
Man coverage: Excels in man coverage when he's asked to play tight to the line of scrimmage. Smith likes to use his long arms to jam and redirect receivers. According to Colorado, Smith thrown at just 20 times while in man coverage in 2010. Of those, he allowed one touchdown, but broke up five passes.
Size: Smith's size is what most often garners him comparisons to Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders. Smith is a big corner with long limbs and power. He's not quite as thickly built as Patrick Peterson, but he has a safety frame for a cornerback. Has a frame that can hold more weight, especially in his upper body.
Speed: Has reportedly run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. Plays fast and can run with a lot of wide receivers deep. Will sometimes get too ahead of himself in pursuit and run himself out of tackles. Moves around fast enough to make up for when he's out of position.
Tackling: Is a strong tackler who is technically sound in his wrap-up. Won't always take good angles nor does he attack the line of scrimmage all that well.
Zone coverage: At Colorado, Smith was used much more in man coverage. When he was asked to play the zone, he shows good patience to let a play develop around him. Has a good feel for when to switch off coverage. Will sometimes be late locating the ball in zone coverage.
Final word: Smith is a two-year starter cornerback on the right side for the Buffaloes. According to the university, Smith only allowed 11 completions while in man coverage during his junior and senior seasons. Those kind of numbers make up for a lack of interceptions (three for his career).
Smith has good speed and knows how to use it. Against Hawaii in 2010, Smith chased down a ball carrier who had nearly 20 yards on him. The senior plays best in man coverage but shows good awareness in zone play.
With his combination of coverage ability and size, Smith should get taken in the first 20 selections."
Smith has the size and speed to make it.
Smith was versatile playing safety and corner, and was a three star safety recruited by Colorado. He has quite the football pedigree, with four of his brothers playing college football and even some NFL. Smith was a three year starter at cornerback for the Buffaloes, and he has himself being talked about as a potential first round riser in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Smith was blessed with an excellent combination of size and straight line speed. While he won’t light up the combine with huge numbers, his speed and agility is still exceptional and could push him into the first round. He’s a physical corner who excels in press coverage, and isn’t afraid to help out in the run game. Smith has above average ball skills, and does a nice job of locating the football and making a play to shut down a pass. His size is fantastic as he’s tall and well filled in, in terms of his overall frame. Smith also excels in reading the quarterback, and doesn’t bite on the pump fake, or play action easily. He is a potential first round talent, that will most likely fall just a bit due to a top heavy draft.
Smith’s biggest weakness is changing direction. He doesn’t always have a low backpedal, and he struggles to turn his hips and stay with the defender. He’ll need to work on his overall technique and won’t be a starter early in the NFL. Despite being a physical player, he doesn’t shed blocks very well in the run game. He allows himself to get turned easily with his back towards the ball carrier, taking himself out of the play. He’s not a natural play maker, and won’t record many interceptions at the next level.
It’s very possible that Smith gets into the first round, but it’s most likely that the early to mid second round will be where he is selected. Arizona, Tennessee, Dallas, Houston, and Minnesota will be intrigued by him between picks 38 and 43. Chicago and Pittsburgh are the most likely candidates to select him at the end of the first round if he rises his stock enough at the NFL Combine.
NFL Comparison: Ike Taylor"
Positive: Physically impressive defensive back who flashes the ability to shut down opponents. Instinctive, diagnoses the action, and does not back down from a challenge. Quick flipping his hips in transition, physical throughout the route, and fights hard to defend throws. Out-muscles opponents and beats them to defend the pass. Solid athlete that gets vertical and contorts in midair to defend passes. Defeats blocks and fast up the field defending running plays or screens passes.
Negative: Stiff and slow pedaling in reverse. Does not display the ability to quickly drive to the ball out of his plant. Has several off the field/character concerns which has raised numerous red-flags.
Analysis: Smith comes off two productive seasons on the college level and is an athletic prospect with good upside. He offers starting potential at the next level but must improve his overall fundamentals and mature as a person before he'll break into a starting lineup. Would be best in a bump-and-run type system."
Negatives: College production could have been better, only recorded three interceptions in four years... Appears a little thin, might struggle against receivers with bigger frames in the NFL, appears to have a lack of leverage when making tackles... Looks a little stiff in the hips when opening up out of close man coverage, needs to work on getting a little lower in his backpedal and exploding out of it when changing directions... Sometimes takes a little too long to locate the ball in the air, ball skills could be a little better... Needs to work on zone coverage, does not read plays off the ball as well as he does when in press coverage."
Weaknesses: Not comfortable in off coverage. Tends to drift in zones and loses track of players in his area. Will need to work on the subtleties and concepts of zone coverage to become a complete player.
Projection: Early-second round pick who could work his way into the first with a great combine/postseason showing. Good upside and will be a quality starter for years."
Heading into 2010 Smith picked up where he left off and is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation's top defensive back). Once again Smith is not putting up eye popping numbers, but most of the competition tries to stay away from him. Since he has his wide receiver blanketed most of the time anyway, it becomes very tough to throw to his side of the field.
Smith's speed is going to impress a lot of people at the NFL Combine. This is a player who can run a 4.4 40 on a good day. That is great speed for anybody, but having a corner who is 6-2 that can run that fast is special. That may push Smith to the edge of the first round, but at worst he is a second round talent."
There's no question that Jimmy Smith is a talented Corner Back, though it seems he's far better in Press than in Zone. But as long a he's only asked to play Press Coverage, he could be phenomenal.
Character issues?? Well, that's beyond the scope of what I do, for the most part.
The reality is that Jimmy Smith has potential to be Star in this league.
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