Jaylen Smith, WR
School: Louisville | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 219 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 6th or 7th Round
NFL Comparison: Jalen Tolliver
Jaylen Smith was 3-star prospect from Pascagoula, Mississippi. He received offers from Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and Nebraska but chose Louisville because of their fast paced spread offense and because he knew he would get opportunities early in his career. Smith’s college career really took off during Lamar Jackson’s Heisman winning season in 2016. In that epic season Smith’s receiving yardage total was 4th best on the team but his touchdown total was 2nd on the team. The following year the chemistry between Jackson and Smith improved further and lead to Smith’s best statistical year in his career. Many (possibly Smith himself) think that he should have declared early instead of staying for his senior season. The momentum of the season was with him but he ultimately decided to go back to school because of a wrist injury that would not have allowed him to compete very much in the offseason. Weighing the risk of being labeled with a red flag due to injury he decided to take his chances and go back to school. Smiths numbers declined sharply with a new QB after Jackson left and unfortunately he had an unremarkable season. Smith has some upside and we can see that in his 2017 tape. He can be a contributor at the next level with a QB that can get him the ball.
- Excellent size, length, and good speed for the position.
- Reliable pass catcher when it’s delivered to him between the numbers uses his size and speed to create separation in his routes. Has a possession receiver mentality underneath and looks to gain more yards after the catch and uses his body to do so but also has the straight line speed to challenge defenses vertically and can produce chunk plays.
- Has the ability to play outside and make plays in the slot. Routes could use polish but are effective, not sloppy, plus he makes decent cuts that aid in separation. Release off the LOS is smooth and he can accelerate to top speed pretty quickly.
- Has the length and size to make those harder catches outside his frame
- Drop off from 2016/2017 to 2018 is significant not just in stats but in competitive nature and fire. Teams will want to make sure of which version of the player they are getting before they spend any draft pick.
- Has some obvious stiffness in his movements and could have better body control and overall ability to adjust to the ball when its delivered in tough places. Will give up on some throws instead if fight for them to ensure the defense doesn’t get to it.
- No one skill really stands out above the rest and against the average baseline.
- Wish he was more physical as a blocker for his teammates.
Let’s see his work:
#PennState QB Trace McSorley hits #Louisville WR Jaylen Smith for a pass here at @seniorbowl practice Day 3.— Josh Berrian (@_joshonair) January 24, 2019
The @PennStateFball signal caller has the fastest speed of the day at 17 mph, but of course, I already knew he had wheels ♂️ ♂️ #WeAre @McSorley_IX @JaylenSmith_12 pic.twitter.com/sPgTpBEyUa
Whew if we aren't sleeping on Louisville WR Jaylen Smith. @TonyG_DFFscout when he said I would be floored watching him. Smith is fluid, a sharp route runner, and has some of the best body control I have seen in the draft. With bad QB play, he did his best with it. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/Jn6p68xNd2— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 27, 2018
Really nice one-handed grab by #Louisville WR Jaylen Smith. Couldn’t help but also notice Lamar Jackson’s movement in the pocket. Navigates the pocket well, keeping his eyes upfield at all times #devy @DFF_Devy pic.twitter.com/WZ8jcwTKj6— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposescout) June 30, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Smith has some clear limitations and I think his ceiling is probably a contributor as a WR4 at the next level. He doesn’t seem to have some of the key abilities to really take large and significant steps forward regarding his abilities as a player. I think he can improve his route running and blocking ability which could led to him getting on the field more but those are labors related to effort and will. He’ll have to do that anyway on special teams if he wants to make a roster. I’m sure no one was more disappointed in their senior season than Smith was. There were clear moments of frustration from him last season but I hope he has convinced NFL teams that he has moved past that adversity and is willing to put it the work to get better despite what NFL situation he ends up in. I like his size and straight line speed and think he can be effective at all 3 levels of the field as he’s shown in college. He’ll have to fight for his opportunities against other height / weight / speed guys like Cam Simms and Robert Davis on the roster though. Optimistically Smith could surprise in camp and could surprise some more if he’s able to make plays in scrimmages and in the preseason. Physically he seems to fit the mold of some of the WRs the Redskins have drafted late or signed as UDFAs recently.