Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith enjoyed a Joe Burrow-like dream season in 2020. The Crimson Tide’s highlight-reel playmaker capped a Heisman Trophy year with what appears to be a CFB championship victory over Ohio State (Alabama is winning 52-24 at the time of this article) and he dominated, as usual, for the world to see.
Smith ended the game with 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns (all in the first half) before exiting with a hand injury early in the third quarter. More on that later.
Smith entered Monday night’s game with 105 catches for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns and is considered by most NFL draft analysts to be the best non-quarterback skill player in the 2021 class. It’s hard to argue against that opinion considering how dominant Smith has been this year, but his slender frame (6-1, 175 pounds) has some scouts wondering whether he’ll be able to hold up against the constant and unrelenting NFL pounding next season.
His hand injury certainly doesn’t help calm that anxiety. And while a hand injury can happen to anyone regardless of size, it’s magnified with Smith because of the concerns about his frame. Is it the first of many bumps and bruises in his NFL future? We’ll see. But don’t dismiss it as being irrelevant in his final evaluation. It matters.
Still, there’s no doubt Smith will be a top-15 pick in the 2021 draft. He might even end up being a top-five pick depending on how gutsy teams with those selections want to be.
I currently have Smith jockeying with the likes of LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman at the top of the wide receiver class. It’s a really talented cluster of four pass-catchers who each have a strong argument to be the first one picked.
Smith’s resume is the most decorated, and his dominance has been the most celebrated. As a result, he may end up being the most coveted wide receiver in 2021.