Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Tre’Quan Smith
Born: January 7, 1996
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: New Orleans Saints
College Team: UCF
Draft Status: Round Three, Pick #91 overall
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- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 203 lbs
- Hand Size: 9 ½”
- 40 Time: 4.49
- Bench Press: 12 reps
- Vertical Jump: 37.5”
- Broad Jump: 130”
- Short Shuttle: 4.5
- Three Cone Drill: 6.97
- Excellent top-end speed and acceleration
- Big catch radius
- Productive college player
- Good at the catch point
- Consistently wins jump balls
- Already an above average blocker
- Poor agility shows up in short areas
- Looks stiff when changing directions
- Hands aren’t always reliable
- Physical corners cause him fits
- Doesn’t do enough of the little things right when it comes to route running
The Saints quietly have a crowded depth chart at wide receiver. Michael Thomas is the undisputed king of the corps, followed in some order by Ted Ginn Jr. and free agent pickup Cameron Meredith. Smith could mix in after those three if he can get past Brandon Coleman, who got most of the slot reps last season after overtaking the since departed Willie Snead. Even if he does get by Coleman, his opportunity is likely to be quite low.
Things could look better next year, as Ginn Jr. will be be 34 and on the last year of a deal the Saints’ could get out from with only a $1 million cap hit. Cutting him would also net them $2.5 million in cap room and $1.5 million in cash savings. If Smith shows well, that’s a move New Orleans could make rather easily, especially with a well-suited in-house replacement who will cost them measures less and could have the same positive impact on the offense.
If Ginn Jr. does stick next season, we’ll have to look to 2020 to find any sort of meaningful contributions from Smith, and by then, the Saints may have moved on to greener pastures.
The aforementioned Coleman is the biggest immediate threat to Smith’s standing on the depth chart, as he’s highly unlikely to challenge any of the others ahead of him. That said, they are two wildly different players, and if I had to guess, I’d say Coleman is more of a direct backup to Meredith, with Smith doing the same for Ginn Jr.
If we do some bar napkin projections, we can figure the top-three receivers for 275 or more targets. That should be around half of the total pass volume from a Saints’ offense relying on their future Hall of Fame quarterback less and less. We will give another 100 targets to Ben Watson and his fellow tight ends, and 125-150 to Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. It’s also warranted when you have two of the better pass catching backs in the league. A little math gets us to maybe 525-550 targets already spoken for on a team that threw it only 537 times in 2017 – that leaves little to nothing for whoever is left at receiver and running back.
Basically, the entire Saints’ offense is a massive threat to Mr. Smith and his fantasy future.
As you may have gleaned, my short-term hopes aren’t high for our rookie du jour. If he manages even 15-20 receptions this year, it will be a huge accomplishment in a loaded offense with several well-established targets. That doesn’t mean he can’t prove his worth as a situational deep threat or a direct backup to an aging Ginn Jr. The veteran speedster has been remarkably healthy throughout his career, but isn’t getting younger, and is probably as vulnerable to a soft tissue injury as at any point in his career.
If Smith does get get such an opportunity, I’d expect him to step in and do a very good imitation of Ginn Jr, reeling in deep throws and opening up the field for Thomas, Meredith and Kamara. That doesn’t necessarily equate to fantasy greatness, but could be enough to buoy his value in the dynasty trade market.
Things could be a bit better in terms of a long-term outlook. Ginn Jr. can’t play forever, and it’s entirely possible Meredith isn’t as good as he showed during a surprising 2016 breakout. Either of those would open up the targets needed for Smith to make his mark.
There are some in the dynasty community who see Smith as capable of being more of a traditional WR2 and not just a lid lifter. If he can get to that point, it would give him a substantially higher ceiling than what I am presenting as most likely. I can see the potential for such an outcome, even if I am not quite on board with it personally. If that ends up being the case, it may be tough to get there competing with Thomas, Meredith and Kamara.
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
I struggled a bit for a comp I was comfortable with, so I am going to cheat and compare him to a fellow rookie in James Washington. Smith is bigger and arguably a better athlete, but wasn’t as productive or decorated. He also doesn’t quite carry Washington’s draft pedigree or name recognition, and, in my humble opinion, isn’t the same quality of prospect. I believe our friends over at Rotoviz would call him an arbitrage play.
ROOKIE DRAFT ADVICE
Going almost a full round after Washington, Smith’s rookie ADP of 24 may make him seem like a smart buy, but when you factor in those ahead of him in the Saints’ offense and how fickle dynasty owners are with mid-round rookies, especially receivers, he may not represent a great value for your draft dollar. If you are as confident as I am Smith isn’t going to light up the scoreboard this year, your best bet is to spend your pick elsewhere and float out a trade offer for him some time late in the season.
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