It’s an exciting time for dynasty football owners. There is another ultra-athletic Georgia Tech receiver, DeAndre Smelter, to perhaps fawn or fret over. So far the run-based college is batting 66.6% with hits with superstars Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, but whiffed on current Carolina taxi squad member Stephen Hill. I watched two of his 2014 college games against Virginia Tech and Virginia, along with some highlights to get a better idea of what skill set the young receiver brings to the NFL.
WR DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech 6’ 2” 226 lbs.
Cons: His biggest red flag is the torn ACL that he suffered against Georgia late 2014. Will he be able to work out for teams before the draft, this seems highly unlikely. Smelter doesn’t bring a wealth of experience as he only played two years of football, transitioning from his former passion baseball. Because Georgia Tech has a limited passing game, the wide out did not run or understand the use of a full route tree. He mostly ran fly (straight down the field) and post (straight towards the goal post) patterns, along with bubble screens and quick slants. Even before the ACL injury, Smelter struggled with foot speed and had to chop his feet quickly to gear down before changing directions. This extra movement allowed defensive backs to catch back up with him. The wide out tended to body catch almost half of his targets, sure many were not accurate, but he needs to do a better job plucking the pigskin out of the air.
Pros: Smelter lined up as a tight end, split out wide, and in the slot. He did not face a lot of press coverage as the receiver mostly lined up uncovered. That isn’t to say that he isn’t physical enough to shove defensive backs out-of-the-way on the line of scrimmage, because he did that on multiple occasions. This raw, super-athletic receiver takes time to build up speed, but once he is running at full speed, it’s hard to stop him. Smelter tracks the ball well in the air, running underneath passes to make catches in stride, and uses the sidelines well. He out leaps his coverage to attack the ball at its highest point. The wide out fights for the ball while shielding it away from defenders, and is great at making bucket catches especially near the red zone. On bubble screens, Smelter uses his power to break tackles while keeping his legs churning fighting for extra yardage. He is an excellent run blocker that gets underneath the defenders pads and drives them back.
Overall thoughts: This receiver is raw, but could become a huge threat to a patient NFL team as well as fantasy owners that are willing to take a chance on his athleticism if he fully recovers from the ACL injury. Smelter is a one cut and go runner who needs more coaching to develop a versatile route tree. He reminds me of a less-polished Anquan Boldin.
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