2018 Rookie Profile: Tre’Quan Smith, WR UCF

Bruce Matson

Even though this running back class is bursting through the seams with talent, we still can’t forget about the wide receivers. This year’s group of wideouts lacks star appeal, but from a talent perspective, it still holds its own. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few wide receivers who become mega dynasty assets in a few years. On the contrary, I wouldn’t be surprised if this class becomes a total bust.

I like to sleep as much as anybody, but I don’t like sleeping on talented prospects. I swear dynasty enthusiasts must be loaded up on Ambien this year, because more often than not, Tre’Quan Smith is getting slept on in a lot of rookie mock drafts. He’s a player who should be garnering more attention than he’s currently getting.

Let’s take a look at why people need to wake up from their trance and start giving Smith the respect he deserves.

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STATS

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Statistics from sports-reference.com

Smith led the team in receptions and yards while also owning a 32.25 percent market share of UCF’s passing offense. His impressive market share total means he “broke out” as a 19-year-old freshman. He was a key piece to a very stagnant passing offense. UCF gained just 2,246 yards through the air that year. Even though he played in one of the worst offenses in the nation, he still managed to have three games with over 100 yards receiving.

It was the same song, just a different year for Smith’s sophomore season. Again, he was the team leader in receptions and yards. It’s easy to overlook his 853 yards receiving, but his 31.29 percent market share of the team’s passing offense ranked fifth amongst sophomore wide receivers.

During the final season of his collegiate career, Smith finally broke the 1,000-yard barrier. He also surpassed double-digit touchdowns for the first time. His best game of the season came against Cincinnati when he caught five passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns. UCF shocked the world by going undefeated while also increasing their offensive production by finishing the season ranked sixth in the nation with 6,896 total yards. The team’s success helped Smith receive the national attention that elevated his dynasty stock. Like his two previous seasons, he led the team in receptions and yards. Smith also owned a 27.15 percent market share of the team’s passing production.

THE MEASURABLES

Smith has the size adjusted speed, burst, and short area quickness to be a handful at the NFL level. At 6’2’’ and 203 pounds, he has enough size to outmuscle defenders at the catch point. His 130-inch broad jump ranked in the 96th percentile amongst wide receiver prospects. With a wingspan that ranks in the 83rd percentile and a 6.97 three cone, Smith’s athletic metrics indicate he has a rather large catch radius which will help him reel in contested passes.

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His athletic comps on Mock Draftable aren’t very sexy. I wrote an article covering the athletic comparisons for the 2018 wide receiver class and the table above is from that article. Hakeem Nicks is the name standing out in flashing lights. In his heyday, Nicks was considered one of the top young talents in the league. Jordan Matthews was a former second-round selection and just signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots.

THE FILM

There’s a lot to like about Smith’s game. The thing I like most is his aggressiveness at the catch point. He attacks the ball with his hands while using his body to create just enough separation from the defender to make the play. Smith also does a great job at high-pointing the ball to convert tough contested catches downfield. Although he’s not a burner, he still has enough speed to get downfield and make plays. He would operate best as a flanker at the NFL level.

His inability to consistently create separation from defenders with his route running is a concern. He can create separation in other ways, but he will need to get in and out of his breaks quicker if he wants to develop into a slippery receiving option. A large portion of his targets are contested which caused him to drop more balls than the average receiver. Some of these plays are routine and others were tough plays to make. Nevertheless, he needs to be more consistent at catching the football. According to PFF, he had a 7.2 percent drop rate, ranking 113th in the nation amongst wide receiver prospects. Drops are a major concern and could keep him from seeing the field.

DYNASTY VALUE

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DLF ADP is available for every player on their player page.

According to DLF’s rookie ADP, Smith is the 13th wide receiver off the board with a 36.83 ADP. This is the reason why I feel he’s being slept on. He has the production and athleticism to be a quality NFL player and still, he’s slipping deep in the third round of rookie drafts. The DLF team has him ranked 12th amongst rookie wide receivers with the highest rank being eight and his lowest at 19. Smith has a very palatable price tag and he’s definitely worth the cheap investment.

I can’t see his price getting much lower. If anything, it could raise if he gets drafted into a favorable situation. His dynasty value should hold steady during the first few years of his career. Of course, his value could increase if he breaks out during his rookie season. On the contrary, he could drop off the map if he experiences severe off the field issues. However, this could happen to anyone. For the price, Smith is a really safe bet.

CONCLUSION

Smith is a player who is currently flying under the radar. He has the talent to be this year’s steal in rookie drafts. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll develop into a top-five wide receiver in the league but he could be a dependable fantasy asset in the right situation. Like I stated earlier, his price makes him an easy buy. Since he’s dirt cheap, there’s almost no risk in acquiring him, because you won’t be out much if he busts. I like him and I think he could be a functional player for your fantasy team in the near future.

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bruce matson
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