Rookie Rundown: TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Rookie Rundown: TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

By

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Irv Smith Jr. leaves Alabama after just one big season but was a major cog in the machine as both a blocker and receiver. Smith offers a versatile set of skills that will appeal to any NFL team and he is expected to be the third tight end selected in the 2019 NFL draft. He is the son of Irv Smith, a former first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1993 who played for seven seasons in the NFL.

Smith never had a catch as a freshman and ended his sophomore year with only 14 receptions. But he became a big part of the offense in 2018 and contributed both as a run blocker and receiver with 44 receptions. He left college after the Crimson Tide reached the National Championship in all three seasons.

Smith may not have a lengthy resume but he’s considered an all-around talent – albeit still green and with developmental needs. Coming from a successful program that spawned O.J. Howard recently, Smith is expected to be one of the first tight ends drafted and likely in the top three.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 242 pounds
40 time: 4.63 seconds

Year Games Catch Yards Avg. TD Runs Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2017 9 14 128 9.1 3 0 0 0 128 3
2018 15 44 710 16.1 7 0 0 0 710 7

Pros

  • Versatile player that can block and receive
  • Capable pass-catcher that can play either side of the line, flexed out or in the backfield
  • Solid addition to a team needing run-blocking help
  • Excellent route runner
  • Fast enough to offer vertical receptions downfield
  • Physical and tough

Cons

  • Still green after just one year as a starter
  • Needs to add muscle and bulk to help blocking
  • Doesn’t have a second gear
  • Lack of size hurts him on contested catches

Fantasy outlook

Smith projects as a great prospect for an NFL tight end. He can run-block well and had plenty of experience in that at Alabama. His pass protection will need some work since he wasn’t used in that capacity very often in college.

While he lacks some explosiveness and top speed found in wideouts, he’s at least “fast enough” and broke off several catch-and-runs in college.  He’s built more like a receiving tight end but has the ability to block like a bigger player. He is a very well rounded player coming from one of the best programs in the country. His lack of overall experience may translate into him taking longer to find his optimal level but most tight ends need at least one year before they shine anyway.

He’ll likely end up as a second-round selection. Teams that will consider him include the Patriots, Falcons, Cowboys, Ravens, Jaguars, and Chargers. He’ll offer help as a receiver but is also reliable as a blocker and that dual role means he could end up with any NFL team.

Smith could later develop into an elite fantasy tight end on the right team, but his rookie outlook is lower since he doesn’t offer that tall package that can immediately become a factor in the end zone. Smith will develop into a true receiver and that has better prospects for the long term but his first-year contributions could be mostly his help as a run-blocker.

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