Instincts/Recognition: Understands route running and body language extremely well, especially when in man coverage. Does a good job of playing the ball and not the receiver. In off zone, struggles to sometimes recognize when receivers are breaking off their routes. Needs to improve his anticipation. Against the run, he does a nice job at keeping his eyes in the backfield to diagnosis the play. Also, reads screen passes very well.
Cover Skills: Press man coverage is where he shines. Plays with physicality and has the size and length to effectively press receivers and re-route them. Understands leverage and position. Knows how to use his wing span to jam a receivers inside shoulder, to prevent them from executing inside routes. Shows good balance when fighting receivers in the 5-yard area. Does a nice job of planting-and-closing on comeback routes, but could become even better if he stayed lower. Is adequate in off zone coverage. Footwork and balance tend to wane when not in press. Back pedals nicely, but could benefit from staying lower. Has good speed and foot quickness. Can stay in receivers hip pockets and that allows him to contest every ball thrown his way.
Ball Skills: Hands are good and improving. Does a nice job of playing the ball and not the receiver. On over the top routes, he whips his head around and locates the ball. Uses his long arms to deflect passes, and his hands to jar balls free. Has an innate ability to time his leaps and route jumping perfectly. Uses his size well on fade and post corner routes. Is not a ball hawking cornerback.
Run Support: Plays the run well, but needs to be more aggressive. Will sometimes wait for ball carriers to come to him or assume someone else will make the tackle, instead of attacking. Jogs around and lacks effort on occasion. Doesn’t fly to the ball, which allows ball carriers to get good yardage after first contact. Isn’t overly physical either. Does not show the strength necessary to deliver a good pop upon contact. Is more of a wrap-up-drag-down tackler. Despite his lack of physicality, he doesn’t miss many tackles. Even at his size, he has some issues with disengaging from receivers blocks. Needs to become more violent and aggressive with his hands.
Intangibles: Active in community service. Thought of as quiet and reserved. 2010 Jim Thorpe Award candidate. All-Big 12 First Team selection.
Overall Stock: Teams are intrigued by the size of Jimmy Smith. He has next level ability. Anytime a cornerback is 6ft plus, athletic, and excels at playing press man coverage, he will find himself in discussions of the first round. As it is now, not many people know about Smith. He is not a flashy kid. Doesn’t pick off a ton of passes and run them back for touchdowns, and he attended a mediocre football school. But, I guarantee people will soon know him. In the last two years, Smith has put up some crazy numbers that aren’t obvious to the casual fan. He has only allowed 11 competitions in the past two years, total. Those are insane numbers. In fact, those are Nnamdi-like numbers. Teams will put on the tape this offseason and see a potential shut down corner. He does have his flaws, but shut down corners are a rare breed, which means there’s a good chance Jimmy Smith comes off the board in the first round. With a strong combine, the skies the limit for this kid.
NFL Comparison: Nnamdi Asomugha