Sunday, April 08, 2007

Get to Know 'Em: Steve Smith

Rather than add my voice to the legion of bloggers speculating on the Vikings' first round pick, I'm going to take the draft analysis a step further and preview players the Vikings might take with the 41st overall pick. And in case you're wondering, I'm getting the ideas for players from NFL Draft Countdown, Draft Tek and FF Tool Box. So for all I know, these guys will all be gone in the first round, or will still be available when the Vikings draft in the third round. If it's the latter, let's all pretend this was a third round preview, ok? Thanks.

April 3: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio St.
April 4: Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina

April 5: Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia
April 8: Steve Smith, WR, USC

Steve Smith, a senior out of USC, might be the strongest wide receiver available to the Vikings with the #41 pick. The problem is that the way Smith demonstrated his strength might be enough of a reason for the behavior-conscious Vikings to draft a different receiver with question marks. Not only did he break Minnesota native Dominique Byrd’s jaw in a fight, the fight occurred because Smith owed Byrd money and refused to pay him. Sounds like a classy guy. You do have to give him some credit for being willing to fight Byrd. As someone who played Byrd in high school (and who needed to take a play off to recover my senses after being run over by him), I can attest to the fact that Dominique Byrd is a very large human being.

Now, if the Vikings decide that the incident in question (which Pete Carroll felt did not require disciplinary actions) was not something that would happen again and decided to take Smith, they’d be getting a receiver with soft hands, good speed (4.40 forty time) and four years in a pro style offense at USC. He has also shown the toughness necessary to go over the middle, the ability to avoid tackles in the open field and a willingness to block in the running game. His blocking was one of the reasons that Reggie Bush was able to break so many long runs.

Smith does have some big question marks, however. He stands a shade under 6 feet and weighs 195lbs, and did not demonstrate the speed on the field that he did in workouts. Short receivers that have success in the NFL are usually very fast, something he may not be on game day. And even when they are, they are not their team’s #1 receiver. Aside from the Panther’s Steve Smith, no receiver under 6 foot is on the top of their team’s depth chart. And Smith’s size also leads to questions about whether he’ll be able to handle big, physical corners, something that would be even more problematic if the concerns about his speed are true. To make it worse, he’s never been the #1 receiver on his team, having played opposite Dwayne Jarrett and Michael Williams.

More likely than not, there will be a better receiver available to the Vikings in the second round. Smith’s lack of size, his character issues and the questions about his speed make him too much of a risk, since his upside is that of a #2 receiver at best.

1 comment:

DC Trojan said...

I think you're overplaying the "character issue" for Steve Smith. There were two things that raised eyebrows about that fight with Byrd - whose jaw got broken, and the fact that Smith was involved. He's a good guy.

Going by the ESPN rankings for likely 2nd round receivers, the only one I'd consider over Smith is Sidney Rice from South Carolina, so unless someone better drops from the first round, the Vikings would do well to at least take a serious look.

Good work on the previews, BTW, even if I'm not sold on your opinion of Smith! ; )