Dynasty League Football


Rookie Player Profile: DeAndre Smelter


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Last year was only Smelter’s second at Georgia Tech and he did not disappoint. He initially opted to come to Georgia Tech on a baseball scholarship instead of going pro, as he had actually been drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins. This fact alone displays what a talented athlete Smelter is. After sitting out his sophomore season due to a nagging shoulder injury, he tried out for and made the football team in 2013. After not playing football for two seasons, Smelter was third on the Yellow Jackets in receiving, posting 21 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns. Although these numbers don’t sound like much, Georgia Tech attempted just 203 passes, compared to 713 rushing attempts.

Smelter posted a .315 dominator rating ((% of team receiving yards + % of teams receiving touchdowns)/2) in his first season of organized football in two years – that’s pretty impressive if you ask me. This season, Smelter led the Georgia Tech in all receiving categories, posting 35 catches for 715 yards and seven touchdowns – this means he had a .435 DR his senior year, which places him in the top 98% of all wide receivers since 2005. So, Smelter has elite production for a receiver.

Next, he has ideal measurables for a wide receiver. Standing at 6’2” and weighing 226 pounds, he is a very physical player. He is at his best when the ball is in the air and he can use his size to go get the ball. His body control in impeccable for someone as inexperienced as him. Smelter is also a very capable route runner, although he doesn’t know the entire route tree just yet. Right now, he is proficient at running the slant, comeback/curl, and nine route. Although he didn’t run it often, I believe Smelter is capable of running a fade route well as well. His jump ball skills and body control should allow him to learn the nuances of the fade quickly. It also helps that Smelter has the largest hands in combine history – his hands were measured at 11 inches. 11 inches! He is dangerous in the open field, as he has good vision and a nasty stiff arm. His speed is very good for his size and will allow him to pick up yards after the catch in the NFL. Finally, Smelter is an excellent run blocker because of Georgia Tech’s triple option offense – this will allow Smelter to get on the field early for the 49ers.


Smelter is a very raw player. As mentioned before, after initially committing to Georgia Tech to play baseball, he joined the football team his junior year after a shoulder injury. He is very impressive for only a second year player, but he can use some development. Because Georgia Tech runs the triple option, Smelter spent a large amount of his time blocking. While he is now one of the best run blockers in this class, his knowledge of the route tree is limited. He also tends to use his body to catch the ball, which can lead to drops. But, these concerns aren’t what caused Smelter to go in the fourth round. He tore his ACL late in the season and is expected to take a redshirt year this year with the 49ers.


Smelter has plenty of opportunity, but almost no shot of contributing in year one due to his injury. Besides newly signed Torrey Smith, the 49ers don’t look to have any long term contributors at the position. Anquan Boldin should contribute this year, but is 34 and could be a cap casualty after next season. After those two, no other receiver on the roster is as talented as Smelter.


It’s pretty easy to see the threats to Smelter not ever really reaching his potential. First, he may not be as explosive after his injury. Second, nobody really knows what the 49ers will do at the position next off-season and since Smelter likely won’t play much this year, nothing is guaranteed to him.

Short Term Expectations

Smelter will not contribute in year one for the 49ers due to his torn ACL. In year two, expect for him to step in as the team’s WR2 or WR3 depending on if Anquan Boldin returns or not.

Long Term Expectations

He should be in line to take over for Boldin within the next two years and would make a nice pairing with Torrey Smith for the 49ers. He could eventually develop into the 49ers WR1, with Smith serving as more of a WR2/deep threat in years three and four of Smelter’s career.

NFL Comparison

I would compare Smelter to a less athletic Josh Gordon. Both have similar builds and nearly identical production in their final college seasons. Both also only played two years of college football and sat out a year before playing in the NFL. Gordon is the more athletic prospect, as he looks faster and more explosive than Smelter on tape. In the open field Smelter and Gordon are both dangerous with the ball in their hands, and both are also good with the ball in the air. Smelter’s floor is probably half of Gordon’s best season, something around 45 receptions, 800 yards and five touchdowns. At his best, Smelter can be a team’s WR1, but a fantasy WR2.

Projected Rookie Draft Round

Smelter is currently going in the late third to early fourth rounds of rookie drafts. I would seize the opportunity to acquire him at that price point, and would even consider him in the mid second if you can afford to wait a year for him to get on the field.


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Fireman Ed
8 years ago

Just to clarify, you believe Smelters ‘Floor’ is 45/800/5? That seems optimistic for floor production for a guy as raw as he is coming out of GT and coming off a serious injury.

Reply to  Fireman Ed
8 years ago

I’m assuming he means that is his floor after he takes over for Boldin in a year or 2, which is what he was predicting earlier in the article.

I think this is a pretty optimistic forecast for Smelter… but I think he can reach this level. Will he? who knows

Reply to  jrod
8 years ago

Right, I’m more saying when he takes over for Anquan that’s his floor.

8 years ago

I think another former Yellow Jacket, Demaryius Thomas, is a better comparable to Smelter vs Gordon. Smelter and DT are almost identical size/frame wise and they play the same type of game. Both play with a physical edge, solid stiff arm, have solid long speed (although DT is likely faster). Both excel at catching the ball in crowds, have good body control, etc. DT also has 10 1/2 inch hands to Smelter’s 11 inch mitts. And then there is obviously the Georgia Tech comparison and both players were equally as raw coming out

Reply to  detroitcity
8 years ago

I was between Gordona and Thomas for Smelter’s comp, but Thomas was much more productive in terms of market share numbers. If someone compared him to DT I would also agree with tha comp.

Stephen Paratore
8 years ago

Drafted him @ 4.5 in 12 team FFPC league, skipped him in the 3rd based on his ADP and glad he was still there. Based on his ADP I see no reason to reach for him before middle 3rd round. Hoping they place him on IR so I can stash him on injury list for the entire year and not cost me a roster spot. Hoping this guy becomes a baller like those he is being compared to. Oozing with potential but seen this far too often to get my hopes up too much. His size and rawness are very intriguing no doubt. Get well DeAndre and hope the rehab with the NFL goes well.

8 years ago

Basically any WR not taken in the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft has about a 15% chance of ever becoming fantasy relevant so even though Smelter looks like a prospect worth dreaming on, he’s just not worth a roster slot.

Reply to  cactusdave
8 years ago

Smelter would have gone much higher than the 4th if it weren’t for the injury, and we are seeing now that ACL tears aren’t nearly as damaging long term as they were before recent medical advances. You can’t just look at him in a vacuum and say he only has a 15% chance of being relevant. He is more likely to hit than someone with average 4th round talent and is absolutely worth a roster spot.

Wupper Valley
8 years ago

When I watch his game tape on draftbreakdown I don’t see a raw receiver at all.
He lines up all over the place: outside, slot, sometimes even as in-line TE with his hand in the dirt. He runs many different routes. Not a one trick pony.
He easily finds the weak spots in zone coverage and sits down in the right spot. He knows how to get off press coverage, is physical at the line of scrimmage. He makes contested catches, high points the balls thrown to him and has really soft hands in general. He tracks the ball well and catches outside fades in the endzone. He has enough speed to go over the top of the defense at times and is physically creating yards after the catch. Most importantly he will see the field early and often in a Niners offense, because he is really good at a thing that other (rookie) receivers generally suck at: blocking and pass protection. Man, he makes defenders sit down on their a***** more than once on tape. BOOM.
He is a true two sport athlete phenom. Just had to quit Baseball because of shoulder problems. I take him all day over guys like Devin Smith, Coates and Conley.
Without injury, he would have gone round 2. So I am a buyer.

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