Wide receiver DeVonta Smith declines weigh-in, would like to 'run it back' with Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
We've all bypassed a trip to the scale here or there, but it was noteworthy when Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith did just that at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday.
Smith won't practice or play at the Senior Bowl due to injury. But he's on Brian Flores' National Team roster and can meet with Dolphins coaches throughout the week.
Miami badly needs a play-making receiver and Smith will be seriously considered with the third overall pick. Skeptics of Smith note he was listed at 175 pounds as a senior at Alabama and wonder if he really weighs closer to 170 pounds.
"This guy is a very, very good player," Flores said of Smith after Tuesday's practice. "If you’re a good player, you can nitpick all you want about a guy's size. A good player is a good player is a good player. He made big plays in the biggest games of the year."
What does Smith weigh? Nobody in Mobile, Alabama, knows for sure.
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"DeVonta Smith is a great player but the size is a major concern," tweeted Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout and NFL Network analyst. "It’s hard for some scouts to envision drafting a 170 pound WR at the top of the board. We haven’t seen a lot of 'skinny' WRs dominate the pro game. It is what it is."
Fans of Smith will point to skinny standouts such as Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce and Marvin Harrison.
"You just don't find a guy like a — this guy could be a Jerry Rice," legendary quarterback Brett Favre told TMZ. "He could be different. A Randy Moss. A total game-changer."
Smith was pretty durable at Alabama. Of course, he did require surgery on a finger that knocked him out of the national championship game and will prevent him from being on the field this week.
Smith won the Heisman Trophy this season because he was dominant. He was virtually indefensible, despite his lithe stature. On Tuesday, he said in an interview on NFL Network that he's embraced the "Slim Reaper" nickname once rebuffed by NBA star Kevin Durant.
The Dolphins must weigh (pun intended) his production against his measurables (whenever he is officially measured). Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is close to his former college teammate, is also a bit of an outlier in size.
No general manager wants too many outliers on his roster. But the chance to reunite Tagovailoa and Smith will be very tempting for Chris Grier. Tua knows Smith can separate, catch the deep ball and gain yards after the catch.
In the televised interview Tuesday, Smith said of his conversations with Tua: "We have talked about how it would be nice to run it back again."
The massive attention to Smith's build is a bit reminiscent of the hullabaloo that once surrounded Baker Mayfield's height. Mayfield measured 6-foot 3/8 inches and 216 pounds, but was chosen first overall by Cleveland anyway.
Tagovailoa, incidentally, measured six feet and 217 pounds.
The Dolphins must add one of the top receivers in the draft. And here's the rub: Ja'Marr Chase of LSU is more physically impressive. Though Chase sat out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, he was nearly as dominant in 2019.
Chase posted 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns as a Tigers sophomore. Smith had 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns this season for the Tide.
The lack of an NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis won't help separate the two. Each player likely will be tested separately at a Pro Day on their college campus.
It cannot be ignored that this week, Mel Kiper of ESPN and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network — two of the most prominent draft evaluators in the business — placed Chase, not Smith, on the Dolphins in their mock drafts.
In Kiper's case, it was at least in part because he slotted Smith to the Jets with the second pick. But he also loves the potential Tua-Chase combination.
"I like DeVante Parker, but he's not a No. 1 wide receiver," Kiper wrote. "Chase can be. Because Chase opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I think some people are forgetting how good he was in 2019, when he averaged 21.2 yards per catch and had 20 touchdowns for the national champs. Tagovailoa won't average just 6.3 yards per attempt with the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner on the field."
Jeremiah, a former NFL scout, sees Smith sliding to the Eagles with the sixth pick. He prefers Chase for the Dolphins.
"The Dolphins need to add some playmakers around Tua Tagovailoa," Jeremiah wrote. "Chase is the best pass catcher in the draft."
Chase is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. Jeremiah believes Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the only player better than Chase in this draft.
"Chase is a dominant player on tape," Jeremiah wrote. "He lined up both outside and in the slot at LSU. He defeats press coverage with a combination of foot quickness and upper-body strength. He creates separation off the line of scrimmage and he can also find another gear when the ball is in the air. Chase is at his best after the catch. He routinely breaks tackles and can make defenders miss."