Could a 50-50 specialist with downfield potential be a late-round target for Tampa Bay?
My first two contributions to this year’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft profile series have come on the defensive side of the ball. First, there was Tulane defensive lineman Cam Sample followed by Minnesota defensive back, Benjamin St-Juste. Today, I get my first crack at the offensive side of the ball with Iowa wide receiver, Brandon Smith.
BRANDON SMITH COLLEGIATE CAREER
You’re going to look up Brandon Smith’s collegiate career and be mostly unimpressed. In four seasons, Smith produced 91 catches for 1,041-yards and 9 touchdowns. Not per year. Total.
So how is it this is a draft prospect anyone should take seriously? Well, for starters, his lack of production can be explained in a multitude of ways. First, he plays in a run-first pro-style offense. Second, the best quarterback he had at Iowa was Nate Stanley who was a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft despite playing in a ‘Power 5’ conference in the most over-drafted position of them all.
Even Smith’s best play of his career was on a poorly thrown pass.
Before we write off the guy from stat scouting alone, let’s give him the chance to show whether or not he has some next level athletic ability. What’s that? Oh, he’s already had the chance? Well then, let’s check out the results.
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
Before Smith made an appearance at the Iowa Hawkeyes’ Pro Day, he was turning heads and going viral on Twitter at the House of Athlete combine event in March. Thanks in part to a tweet from someone Buccaneers fans are familiar with.
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) March 5, 2021
“I got to House of Athlete like December 28, (so) I was there for like, what, two and a half – three months just to get prepared for like a day or two days because (of the) combine, then Pro Day,” Smith said. “So, you know just doing like all those drills…but you have to get get ready and get through the combine and then the pro days and everything, but I think I performed well.”
At Iowa’s Pro Day Smith ran a 4.62 forty-yard dash but came short of his House of Athlete 44 inch vertical, reaching 39.5 inches.
He also put up twenty-one reps at the bench press, showing off strength and size which should have team looking for a big and physical red zone target for 2021 and beyond.
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Size and strength. Those are the two biggest things Smith is going to bring in his first year on an NFL campus.
Think of it the way the NBA uses some of their roster formations. When you’re facing a particularly small defense and need just a few yards, or need a score inside the red zone, Smith is a guy who could go in for you and use his length, size, and strength to win one-on-one battles for you in some critical moments.
With the right coaching, and the right utilization, Smith could turn into a solid contributor but isn’t likely to hit No. 2 receiver heights in his career.
Never say never of course, because players who have athletic ability, the willingness to learn and grow, and the environment to do so, can really surprise you.
I asked him what he brings to the field, and Smith said,
“I think I will add like a big dominant force. A guy that (will) definitely win the 50/50 balls. Just a guy with a big dominant overall attitude on the field.”
Name an NFL team who can’t use a guy that can go up and consistently win jump balls against defenders. As long as Smith is doing that, he’ll have a job in the NFL.
In a stacked wide receiver class Smith is a late Day 3 prospect who some think could reach the undrafted free-agent market. Honestly, for a guy who fills a niche function, going undrafted could be best because it allows him the chance to start off on a squad with the right idea of how to use and develop his talents.
ON THE CLOCK…
This is where Bucs Nation comes in. Taking a look at the roster, the fit, and the projections. Where do you value Iowa wide receiver, Brandon Smith?