Gamecock phenom Shi Smith goes into the NFL Draft as an extremely talented receiver, so let’s see where he lands.
The next future pro in the long line of recent Gamecock wide receivers is number 13, Shi Smith.
The 5’10 product of Union, SC, has had a pretty typical career at USC over the past 4 years. He’s accumulated over 2,200 yards and 170 receptions, all while getting into the red zone 13 times, with signature catches coming in 2020 against Auburn and Ole Miss.
His evolution in the depth charge was very organic, serving as the 3rd option behind Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards in 2018, then behind the latter in 2019, before becoming the number 1 option in 2020.
Smith has a build that fits perfectly for a certain role on any NFL team, a slot receiver. He played on the outside for Carolina a decent bit, but with NFL corners being significantly more athletic in the pros, Smith’s physical limitations may limit his ability on the outside.
Now overall that’s not a huge issue, many WRs in the NFL find ways to make an impact in the slot, use my player comparison below as an example.
Let’s look into Smith’s strengths, weaknesses, and more, and try to figure out teams that could use him in 2021.
42 Games Played, 174 Receptions, 2204 Yards, 13 TDs, 9 Rushes, 14 Yards
Hands. Maybe not as well known before 2020, but Shi Smith can catch the football. Making multiple big catches this past season, Smith has developed into a sure-handed target that runs sleek routes and uses his footwork to create separation from defenders in the open field.
Smith also showed his toughness and character by NOT opting out of the 2020 season after Coach Will Muschamp was fired, something a few other Gamecock prospects could not say.
Now, I’m going to make sure everybody understands this since there was some confusion when I talked about Jaycee Horn.
Athleticism as a weakness does not mean that they’re not a good athlete. This simply means that whether due to height, speed, or weight, a player has a disadvantage.
This is the same case for Shi Smith, who by no means is known for his physical dominance or blazing speed, which is why the ceiling for him isn’t as high as other receivers.
Shi Smith will be a productive slot in the NFL. I’m genuinely shocked his value isn’t higher at the moment and I fully expect him to earn a role quickly on whatever team he lands with. I feel that he has a very high floor, but a very low ceiling that is solely dependent on the team he ends up on.
If they have a crowded receiver room, I don’t expect him to excel. If they have an inadequate QB, I don’t expect him to excel. However, if he gets put into a good scheme that utilizes the slot, he could be a fantasy gem next year.
My projection is very optimistic, as I expect the receiver needy Packers to jump on the option to diversify their receiving core outside of speed behind Davante Adams. A late third-round grade makes sense due to his impressive Senior Bowl, and the need for receivers in the league right now
I expect other teams like the Patriots, Giants, Bears, and Ravens to take a look at Smith as well.