NFL Draft Preview 2015: Cornerback D'Joun Smith
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the ten weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. In this second week, the focus is on cornerbacks. Today’s CB is D'Joun Smith from Florida Atlantic University
After his role as a backup freshman year, Smith saw limited playing time during his sophomore season before breaking out as a junior--he tallied seven interceptions and a total of twenty passes defended, a total good for second in the nation. With his draft stock high, Smith decided to pass on the draft and return for his senior season; unfortunately, injuries nagged him throughout the year and affected his performance. He saw his totals drop drastically, with just seven pass breakups and one pick.
As evidenced by his ascension from bench backup to team captain, Smith has shown improvement and has the ability to raise his game along with the level of competition. His dedication is unquestioned, and he certainly has the mental attitude and work ethic necessary to succeed. Scouts have praised his athleticism, specifically citing fundamentals such as footwork and understanding of coverage, along with his on-ball skills and ability to play as a receiver once he gets his hands on the ball.
There are nagging questions about Smith's top-end speed, and although his combine time of 4.45 has swayed some worries, it was not so much great as it was passable. To some, it is still up for debate as to whether he can keep up with No. 1 receivers in the NFL. Teams should also worry about the major drop in production during Smith's senior year; although he showed immense promise during his junior campaign, it remains to be seen whether that should be viewed as an expectation or an anomaly.
Despite a few doubts, Smith is a good prospect with a high ceiling. After a generally positive combine performance, he will be considered a mid-round prospect, and given the premium on talent at the cornerback position, he could go even higher.
No team would turn down a solid cover corner, and teams such as the Titans and Jaguars could certainly use him. But Smith fits probably fits better in zone packages that can help mask his speed deficit. The Chicago Bears stand out as a good fit, where Smith could pair with the speedier Kyle Fuller.