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: Ito Smith
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Atlanta Falcons
College: Southern Mississippi
Draft Status: Round 4, 126 overall
Born: 9/11/1995 Mobile, AL
- Height = 5’8 5/8″
- Weight = 200
- 10-Yard Split = 1.57
- 20-Yard Split = 2.58
- 40-Yard Dash = 4.45
- Vertical Jump = 36.5″
- Broad Jump = 119″
- 3-Cone Drill = 7.22 seconds
- 20-Yard Shuttle = 4.56
- Bench Press = 22 reps
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- Consistent and dependable runner; led team in rushing all four years at Southern Mississippi.
- Ability to setup defenders, uses quick jump cut to evade tacklers.
- Takes advantage of open lanes, quickness to burst through an opening.
- Solid receiver out of the backfield; 3rd in team receiving.
- Not traditionally viewed as a strength, however, Smith’s rookie contract is a strength as he becomes more attractive for the Falcons to use him as Devonta Freeman’s backup instead of paying Tevin Coleman in 2019 as an unrestricted free agent.
- Smith has accumulated significant yards after contact showing a good ability to break tackles.
Just one of the talented players on the field today in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl – Southern Miss RB Ito Smith has accumulated 2,501 rushing yards AFTER contact in his career. How many will he add to that total today? pic.twitter.com/kznte5O9eU
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 27, 2017
- Lacks size; 10th percentile in height, 13th percentile in weight
- Far below average change of direction and short area quickness.
- 20-yard shuttle was 3rd percentile with a time of 4.56 seconds.
- 3-cone was 14th percentile with a time of 7.22 seconds.
The Atlanta Falcons offense has always benefited from sheer volume as they consistently target their running backs. The incumbent running backs will prevent Smith from getting more than 40% of the touches early on in his career, however. The opportunity would come from taking Coleman’s role in 2019 if the Falcons do not re-sign him. With Coleman’s talent and unrestricted status in 2019, most expect him to look elsewhere, possibly freeing up opportunities for Smith.
The major threat to Smith will be if the Falcons re-sign Coleman. If this happens, Smith’s outlook becomes closer to the likes of Terron Ward. According to 4for4.com’s Player Touches App, the drop from Coleman’s touches in 2017 was 183 to Ward’s 33 – this is a major drop off in opportunity. Secondarily, Smith could lose touches to Freeman if he returns to 2015 level workload where Freeman saw 337 touches to Coleman’s 89 – this would also limit the opportunity for Smith to produce.
My short-term expectations for Smith would be in Ward’s 2017 role with a line of around 30 rushes for 150 yards with limited receptions. His only opportunity will be injuries to either Freeman or Coleman. In 2019, I expect Smith to rise into Coleman’s current role with a potential of hitting top 24 running back production in PPR scoring formats.
While I see Smith having a decent short-term outlook, I expect it is as good as it gets for Smith. I don’t expect Smith to ever be given a lead role or significant enough touches to produce top 15 running back numbers in PPR leagues. Smith is under contract until 2021 with plenty of productive years before his situation would change.
The best NFL comparison just might be in the same backfield. While Freeman is an inch shorter and about ten pounds heavier, Smith has a similar style. The Falcons used similar draft capital on them as Freeman was picked 103rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, while Smith was taken with the 126th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Smith has a faster 40 yard dash speed, while Freeman has better three-cone and 20 yard shuttle times. On film, I see Smith flash similar abilities to Freeman to setup blocks and use his short area quickness to exploit cracks between defenders. Smith consistently showed an ability of running inside-out rather than just trying to burst outside and outrun the edge defenders.
PROJETED RANGE FOR ROOKIE DRAFTS
In May DLF mock drafts, Smith has an ADP of 40. I expect to see him getting selected in the third round of rookie drafts as the dust settles on the post NFL Draft analysis. There are still many rookies getting selected off their pre-draft buzz.
In conclusion, I came away impressed with Smith as a runner. With third and fourth round rookie picks having such a low hit rate (sub 10%), I would be happy taking a flier on him. The potential ceiling of a top 20 running back in PPR even for a couple of seasons is plenty return on the investment right now in rookie drafts.
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