Up until he tore his ACL in Georgia Tech’s rivalry game against the Georgia Bulldogs last year, DeAndre Smelter was easily one of the best wide receivers in the country.
The fact that he played in an option-offense was truly irrelevant. Smelter was balling, and there was not a defensive back in the ACC that could stop him one-on-one.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Smelter finished 2014 by grabbing 35 receptions for 715 yards seven touchdowns and averaged 20.4 yards per grab.
He was named All-ACC Second-Team by Phil Steele and All-ACC Third-Team by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Even though the resume looks strong, the ACL tear is going to be of major concern going into the 2015 NFL Combine.
Everyone is aware of how competitive Smelter is on the field, as well as on the baseball diamond where he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins as a freshman.
Smelter’s competitiveness is why the concern about his will to come back strong from the ACL injury is minimal.
Aug 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver DeAndre Smelter (15) during the third quarter against the Wofford Terriers at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech won 38-19. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
An NFL scout that was quoted in Smetler’s nfl.com scouting analysis said of the wide receiver:
“I hate that he tore his ACL. We throw the phrase ‘athlete’ and ‘competitor’ around quite a bit in this business, but he embodies that. If he hadn’t had a shoulder problem, I think we would be talking about him as a major leaguer right now.”
At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Smelter is a physical receiver that uses his size to fight for extra yards and fight off would be tacklers. His ability to run after the catch is going to be huge in the NFL.
The strengths that the nfl.com analysis point out also have to do with Smelter’s ability to use his size to his advantage.
Those strengths include:
- On hitch routes, showed shake to make first defender miss and also showed he can punish defenders with a stiff-arm.
- Able to create separation underneath by pushing cornerbacks with good route speed.
- Uses wide frame to box out cornerbacks on back-shoulder throws near the boundary.
- Wins when ball is in the air with physicality, body control, well-timed leaps and strong hands.
- Capable run blocker.
The biggest complement that Smelter got in the analysis was that, “His football intelligence really stands out.” That is a testimony to the coaching he received at Georgia Tech.
When it comes to the analysis of his weaknesses, outside of the fact that he played only two years of football, everything has to do with his quickness. The concern about his quickness is magnified even more now because of the ACL injury.
The weaknesses that were mentioned in the nfl.com analysis included:
- Suffered an ACL tear late in season and timetable for 2015 return is uncertain. (Which is interesting because he is participating in the NFL Combine.)
- Average foot quickness for his size, which could lead to some slowness in release against press coverage.
- Ability to separate from athletic cornerbacks is a concern for scouts and has been exacerbated thanks to ACL tear.
Of course the usual concerns about his route running ability are because of the limited passing plays in Georgia Tech’s offense. This is an issue just like it is for Darren Waller.
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Knowledge of the wide receiver route tree will always and forever be a concern for scouts when it comes to the evaluation of Georgia Tech wide receivers.
What this scouting combine is about for DeAndre Smelter is showing NFL teams that he has his mobility and that his knee is not going to be a hindrance.
If Smelter is able to show mobility and ball skills it is not a stretch to think that he could be taken in Rounds 3-5 of the NFL Draft.
Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs will take the field for the 2015 NFL Combine Saturday February 21st at 9 AM EST on NFL Network.