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Is Terell Smith a Future Starting Cornerback for the Commanders?

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2023 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Commanders

Minnesota v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Terell Smith, CB

School: University of Minnesota | Conference: Big Ten Conference

College Experience: Senior | Age: 22 (Week 1)

Height / Weight: 6’ 0.5” 204 lbs

Projected Draft Status: 3rd-5th round

Player Comparison: Dee Milliner

College Statistics

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2018 Minnesota Big Ten FR DB 11 34 9 43 2.0 0.0 1 0 0.0 0 8 0 0
*2019 Minnesota Big Ten SO DB 5 7 2 9 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 0 0
2020 Minnesota Big Ten JR DB 1 3 0 3 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2021 Minnesota Big Ten SR DB 7 11 5 16 0.0 0.0 1 3 3.0 0 2 1 0
*2022 Minnesota Big Ten SR DB 13 34 4 38 4.5 2.0 2 8 4.0 0 5 0 0 0 1
Career Minnesota 89 20 109 6.5 2.0 4 11 2.8 0 16 1 0 0 1
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 4/1/2023.

Player Overview

Terell Smith played for the University of Minnesota Gophers where most of his production came in his first and last season where he had a full time role. His final season was his most productive, totaling 38 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 5 passes defended.

Terell Smith was invited to participate in the 2022 East-West Shrine Game. He had an impressive NFL Combine performance that caught the attention of scouts. He also has formally met with the Commanders at the NFL Combine and has a Top 30 visit set up with the team.


  • Optimal build for a boundary corner. Build fits multiple schemes.
  • Nimble feet to match with top end speed.
  • Consistent tackler, limits YAC after completions.
  • Good run supporter
  • Good anticipation, jumps into passing lanes.


  • Concentration issues limit interception and ball production opportunities.
  • Can lose track of shifty receivers.
  • Needs to work on taking shorter routes in man coverage.
  • In zone coverage, can fall for pump fakes leaving large holes.

Let’s See His Work

Interview with Draft Network

You were outstanding at Shrine, and then you lit the world on fire at the NFL Scouting Combine. You ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 1.50 10-yard split, which are excellent times for your 6-foot, 204-pound frame. You also had a 10-foot-10 broad jump. Do you feel like you surprised some people in Indianapolis?

Terell Smith: I don’t think that’s for me to say because I don’t really know what people were expecting from me. I feel like I just went out there and put my best foot forward. I put myself in good positions throughout the athletic testing portion.

Have you noticed an uptick in attention since then?

Terell Smith: I have, yes. I just feel like more teams are reaching out to me now. I definitely have a busier schedule as far as team meetings go. I’m hearing from more coaches and things of nature.

Speaking of, who are some of the teams you met with formally, and do you have any more interviews or visits coming up?

Terell Smith: I had formal interviews at the combine with the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers. I had informal interviews with everybody else. I have in-person visits with the Washington Commanders and Minnesota Vikings. I was also invited to the Atlanta Falcons’ local pro day.

There’s a ton of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. I thought your ball production took a step forward in 2022. You had seven pass breakups, totaling 20 for your career. You also had two interceptions in 2022. Was there an emphasis on getting your hands on the ball more this year?

Terell Smith: Yeah, that was something I wanted to do more of in 2022. I needed more production, I needed to get my hands on the football with more frequency. I wanted to show everybody that I’m capable of making plays on the ball.

I focused on it. I really just focused on having better technique in general though. I wanted to be better at the line of scrimmage. Those plays just started coming my way because I played with better technique. I was able to make those plays.

Does Terell Smith prefer to play man or zone coverage?

Terell Smith: Me personally, I like man coverage. I just feel like I’m a physical press-man corner. If you asked me to define my identity as a cornerback, that’s what I would say. I’m physical and aggressive. I thrive in press-man coverage. I love getting in a receiver’s face.

I’ll put you in a scenario then. Say it’s 3rd-and-long with the game on the line. Do you prefer to be manned up against the best receiver, or in zone coverage with a chance to make a play on something near the sticks?

Terell Smith: If it’s 3rd-and-long and we’re talking about that situation, I would rather be playing zone coverage and trying to make a play on the ball.

For that scenario, I don’t feel like it’s smart to be manned up on 3rd-and-long. You’d want your cornerbacks to have zone eyes on the quarterback. Watch the quarterback, sit at the sticks, and drive on the ball.

I love that. Do you approach bigger, more physical receivers differently than you do smaller, shiftier ones?

Terell Smith: No, I wouldn’t say that I approach them differently. With those bigger receivers, it’s easier for me to get my hands on them. With the smaller, quicker receivers, it’s more about moving your feet.

It’s more feet than hands with those quicker receivers. The bigger guys, you can get more physical with them at the line of scrimmage. I feel like it all plays out the same by the end of the route. That’s why I don’t really approach them differently. It may be a bit different at the whistle, but I don’t see a big difference after the whistle.

How Will He Fit On The Team

With Kendall Fuller becoming a free agent next offseason, the Commanders could look at possibly upgrading the cornerback position with a blue chip prospect in the first two rounds, or a developmental depth selection in the middle of the draft. If the front office takes the latter option, Terell Smith should be available as one of the high upside options who’s draft stock is limited by lack of playing time and ball production.

Terell Smith is the prototypical boundary corner that has the physical tools to fit in any coverage scheme. If drafted by Washington, he would be in an optimal setting as a backup corner behind Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Smith will spend his rookie years behind the CB duo before possibly being given the chance to compete as a starter in his second season. Given enough playing time, Smith could develop into a decent starter.