Adding a wide receiver early in the 2021 NFL Draft won’t be a priority for the Las Vegas Raiders. However, adding South Carolina’s Shi Smith later in the process would boost the potential for big plays.
There’s a chance that the Raiders walk away from Tyrell Williams and lose Nelson Agholor. Whether ‘Nelly’ leaves or not, the team will have to do some serious restructuring to their roster due to the salary cap. Luckily, the team has some promising talent already in place at wide receiver. Adding Shi Smith to a group with Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow could be explosive.
Then again, if Agholor or Williams do come back, It’s unlikely the organization will use a draft pick on a receiver. However, along with speedy receivers such as Emeka Emezie, there will be plenty of prospects that would be worth a gander. As far as Smith goes, his physicality, toughness, and overall work ethic should appeal to the Raiders. Let’s face it, the team’s head coach loves his ‘Gruden Grinders.’
Smith Would Be Another ‘Grinder’ For The Raiders
Smith was an absolute workhorse at South Carolina, accumulating 174 receptions over the course of 42 games. This gave the wideout a total of 2,204 receiving yards and 13 career touchdowns. Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network believes Smith could be an asset in both the vertical attack and when running screens.
Crabbs also noted Smith’s toughness and willingness to take a hit and still make the catch, and uses the word fearless to describe him. Between his work ethic and willingness to sacrifice for his team, he sounds like someone with ‘character.’ This is a trait that’s highly valued by Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.
What Does Tape Say About Smith?
Overall, Smith possesses solid breakaway speed, but he also has an impressive spin move and plays a physical style. He has fluid hips as you can see in his devastating jukes on incoming defensive backs. For someone who’s five-foot-ten, Smith makes up for it with his excellent movement and reliable hands.
SHI SMITH GET UP🔥🔥🔥
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) November 15, 2020
Pro Football Focus recently broke down Smith’s snaps for his senior year. A closer look reveals Smith played 343 snaps in the slot for the Gamecocks, while 129 were on the outside, wide. He also earned a solid 80.8 PFF receiving grade in 2020. Smith has also seen action on special teams, so there are different ways that he could contribute. In college, Smith returned 21 kicks, totaling 448 yards with an average of 21.3 yards a return.
He could be an excellent option in the slot for the Raiders in the future despite his size. Also, Smith was a teammate of Edwards and Deebo Samuel, so he’s no stranger to competition and putting in work to get his looks. Raiders management should consider Smith and no doubt that Edwards would vouch for his former teammate as well.
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*Top Photo: Travis Bell/South Carolina Athletics