Draft Report: Steve Smith, WR (USC)

[EDITOR'S NOTE] - Noava22 went to USC and offered to put together a Steve Smith scouting report, since this is a guy who could very well end up in San Francisco. I've got one from Conquest Chronicles I'll post later this weekend, but in the meantime, here's what Noava22 has to say about Smith.

While everyone is focused on the SBNation Mock draft, and even though we've drafted Sidney Rice from U.S.C. in the 2nd round, Fooch and I both think it'd be a good idea to take an in depth look at Steve Smith and his potential.  I'll be contributing a writeup on Steve, commenting on his collegiate performance and my prediction of where he will head in his NFL career.  Conquest Chronicles will also be chipping in their own report at a later date, possibly this weekend.

Steve Smith: NFL Draft Preview

Steve comes from the land of sunshine and smog pollution, the city of angels - a place I confidently called home for the last four years.  While he amassed gaudy numbers in his senior season, many people question his heart and his ability to be a playmaker.  The entirety of his collegiate career, he was overshadowed: at first, by the Man-Child Mike Williams.  Once Mike left USC, Dwayne Jarrett was pedigreed to be the star wideout, once again leaving Steve to be the team's #2 receiver.

Coming out of high school, Smith was the 6th best wide receiver prospect in the nation.  Known for being able to play both WR and CB, he was seen as a burner with great skills.  Upon arriving at USC, he proved himself to be valuable in his freshman season and played a very solid 4 years for the Trojans.  He struggled with some injuries his Junior season, but was healthy for the rest of the time he played in the cardinal and gold.


Like most other offensive players that come out of USC, Smith has seen extensive time in an NFL-style/quality offense.  Over his four years there, he became known as the go-to and possession receiver, as DJ occasionally got a case of the dropsies.  Smith always ran very precise routes and found ways to get himself open, and he caught everything thrown at him.  He's a good blocking receiver, which would fit in quite well with what Nolan is looking for.

Smith also plays very smart.  He protects the ball well after catches, and knows how to get around the disadvantages of being small.  He's calm, experienced and confident, and could be used on special teams in a pinch.


Smith is only 5' 11.75' tall - at under six feet, his height is a liability against even some of the regular sized corners in the NFL.  While his elusiveness works to his advantage, this clearly makes him a possession receiver as he cannot fight for jump balls.  Also, given his small frame, some scouts are surprised at his lack of speed - they say he plays slow, and depending on who you ask, some say he can separate and some cannot.  This very well might end up being a case of the stopwatch vs. the film, where the clock says he can't do it but the film says he can.  I'm biased, but I'll trust what I saw on the field.

Another knock on Smith is that he never served as the #1 receiver at USC and thus never played against the top corners of the Pac10.  While this is somewhat true, Smith had to take on the role of primary receiver this past season for one game while DJ was out.  In this game (against Washington State), Smith had 11 catches for 186 yards and 2 td's - sounds like to me he knows how to play as a primary receiver.

But yes, he's small, and he's not that quick.  But wasn't that said about a certain #80 before?

NFL Projection

When I project a player, I like to think of three scenarios: the player's ceiling potential, the player's probable potential and the player's lowest potential.  With Smith, I see his potential as follows:

Ceiling Potential: A poor man's Javon Walker

I think you could also say his top potential is that of a poor man's Steve Smith (the one who's already in the NFL) - a possession receiver who can be a #1.  The "poor man" means he'll never be a superstar - but he can be very, very good in the right system.  I'd say the probability of Smith reaching this potential is 10%

Probable Potential: A poor man's Amani Toomer

Probability of this happening? about 65%

Lowest Potential: Tai Street's best production.


So, Smith has the potential to be a very good #3, a good #2 or a good slot receiver in the right system.  I also think he has the potential to slide in the draft, because USC players tend to be overvalued in pre-drafts.  So he could be there in the 3rd round.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.