School: Michigan | Conference: BIG-10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height/Weight: 5-11 / 223 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Rounds 6-7
De’Veon Smith is a solid, two time BIG-10 Honorable Mention (2016,2015) running back, originally from Ohio. Smith, who set the county record for career rushing yards in high school, was recruited by Michigan, where he saw time on the field in all four years of his years at the school. Though Smith split carries with other running backs during his collegiate career, he eventually overtook teammate Derrick Green for the role of primary ball carrier. Smith’s dedication to being ready to play and drive to prove himself have reaped benefits since the 2016 college football season ended; his standout efforts and performance at the East-West Shrine Game earned him a late invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where he made the most of his opportunity and his name began to generate more draft buzz.
- Catching out of the backfield - solid hands; makes consistent catches out of the backfield and has the ability to make a quick, tricky catch on a broken play
- Pass protection skills - can knock a defender off his path to the quarterback or engage him long enough for the quarterback to safely make a play
- Strong finish - a North-South runner who shows little fear of contact, keeps dancing to a minimal, and moves his feet in the pile to finish his runs
- Decently healthy - enters the NFL having dealt with only minor injuries and missed nominal time due, in part, to staying in football shape and splitting time at RB while at Michigan
- Experience in pro-style offense - spent two seasons under former NFL head coach Jim Harbaugh and credits Harbaugh’s staff with helping him develop a more complete picture of an entire offense
- Speed and acceleration - not the kind of jets that will earn him big, breakaway runs against pro-level secondaries. (Note: Smith declined to run the 40 at the combine, reportedly dealing with an ankle injury, but is expected to run it at Michigan’s Pro Day on March 24.)
- Shiftiness - struggles with regularly wiggling or powering his way through when facing a strong defense that makes early contact or collapses the gap
Let’s See His Work
Combine Spider Graph:
De'Veon Smith: I feel like I'm the best pass protector in this class pic.twitter.com/ZqXHcjwWFE— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) March 2, 2017
De'Veon Smith runs hard and absorbs contact very well.. Not shy about a truck stick on a safety pic.twitter.com/SPVxtTNwey— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 20, 2017
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
Right now, the team carries four RBs: Robert Kelley (expected to be the feature back), Matt Jones (who was unseated by Kelley last year), Chris Thompson (a RFA who the team tendered and, reportedly, hopes to reach a long term deal with), and Mack Brown (who barely made it on to the field last year). I’d be surprised if the Redskins didn’t look to add a running back to bolster their current group by bringing in a late round or undrafted rookie. Before that point in the draft, however, I think the team has much deeper needs to be filled.
Smith’s lack of bursting speed and unproven capacity as a three down back leave me with little concern that the Redskins would bring him in to fill the same roles that Kelley and Thompson fill. However, his willingness to jump into a rotation and work hard to earn his spot while playing in the shadows of bigger names makes me think he has a chance to challenge Jones or Brown for a position on the roster if he’s still hanging around toward the end of the day on Saturday when Bruce Allen and company fill out the last of their draft cards.