Troubled or too talented to pass on? NFL teams will face a tough decision regarding Colorado’s Jimmy Smith. We break down his game in our 2011 NFL Draft scouting report.
6’2, 205 pounds | Cornerback | Colorado
Agility: Despite being a good athlete, Smith doesn’t seem to have the kind of quick-twitch movements that the best corners seem to have. He’s more deliberate in his movements and will sometimes lose balance adjusting himself to work laterally. This showed especially when Smith went up against Georgia’s A.J. Green in October. Green got Smith turned around on a few occasions and he wasn’t quick enough to recover.
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.