Rookie Rundown: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

Rookie Rundown: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa

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Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette enters the 2021 NFL Draft as one of the most explosive weapons in the vertical game. In his four years playing for the Hawkeyes, “ISM” delivered the goods as a receiver, rusher and special teams returner with explosive success.

Many people may recognize him from an ill-fated flip into the end zone that resulted in a sprained ankle in December of last year. While it may have been a poor decision in hindsight, Smith-Marsette said he’d do it again as it was his final game in his home stadium. It may prove to be a cautionary tale, although it shouldn’t be held against him when evaluating his overall body of work.

Height: 6-foot-0 1/2
Weight: 181 pounds
40 time: 4.43 seconds

The above measurables are from Iowa’s recent pro day. Smith-Marsette stood out among his school’s peers, displaying his speed, quickness and agility … every bit helps in a year without a scouting combine.

Table: Ihmir Smith-Marsette NCAA stats (2017-20)

Year
School
Class
Gm
Receiving
Rushing
Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
2017
Iowa
FR
11
18
187
10.4
2
7
41
5.9
0
2018
Iowa
SO
12
23
361
15.7
3
9
71
7.9
0
2019
Iowa
JR
13
44
722
16.4
5
11
108
9.8
3
2020
Iowa
SR
7
25
345
13.8
4
7
54
7.7
1
Career
110
1,615
14.7
14
34
274
8.1
4

*includes postseason/bowl games

Used in a number of ways, but primarily lined up as the “Z” (flanker) receiver, ISM made plays as a freshman and continued to improve over the next couple of seasons. He may be pigeon-holed as a slot receiver in the NFL.

The Hawkeyes played only eight games in 2020, and there was a quarterback switch after 2019 after Nate Stanley was drafted. The program turned to redshirt sophomore Spencer Petras, which returned mixed results for Smith-Marsette.

Pros

  • Electric, game-changing ability in the open field
  • Adept at tracking the ball over his shoulders and not losing a step
  • Versatility will immediately endear him to an NFL franchise — can line up inside and out, run jet sweeps, and contribute as a return man
  • Demonstrated consistent ability to come back for an underthrown pass and make a play on the ball
  • Moves effortlessly in traffic and displays plus read-and-react skills
  • Averaged 28.7 yards per kickoff return and scored twice
  • NFL-based offensive system will help prepare him
  • Serious upside to expand his game into being more well-rounded

Cons

  • Arrested Nov. 2020 for driving under the influence and speeding
  • The aforementioned celebratory flip-turned-injury will turn off some teams
  • Slight frame impacts his role and ability to contribute as a blocker — also begs the question about whether he can beat press-man coverage on the outside
  • Limited route tree — not that he is incapable of being better in this area, but Iowa didn’t ask him to run many intermediate paths
  • Suspect hands early in his career — while improved, some of it has been masked by route choices and shaky QB play

Fantasy football outlook

With an expected draft placement in the Round 3 neighborhood, it’s unlikely Smith-Marsette will be featured in his rookie year. Extenuating circumstances could change this outlook, of course, but fantasy footballers shouldn’t get overly excited right away.

In Year 2 and beyond, ISM should have more considerable potential for a primary role in the offense of his drafting team. His style of play makes ample of sense for the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints based on current needs.

Nearly anywhere he lands in the upcoming draft will find creative ways to manufacture touches. Much like his collegiate stats, gamers should expect low-volume, high-output results. In the ideal setting, there’s considerable upside for more from Smith-Marsette.

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