2018 Raiders Draft Prospect
Name: Romarius (Ito) Smith
School: Southern Mississippi
Weight: 195 pounds
Despite his size, Smith plays like a lead back. With the ball, Smith’s vision immediately takes over. Between the tackles, he will use his patented jump=cut to make the first defender miss. When he gains the corner, Smith bolts downfield. If he has to wiggle in open spaces, defenders bite on the first move. In that case, Smith will either spin or slide just enough to escape.
As mentioned, Smith’s jump cut clears space and opens lanes for him. The emphasis on the plant foot stands out. Smith uses an incredibly wide base. Defenders have trouble with breaking down smoothly enough to corral him. In addition, the threat of the jump cut in space causes defenders to give ground. In the NFL, defenses will be ready for Smith. He will need to augment his move set.
In space, Smith gets to full gallop in a hurry. The tape shows him burst through the line, attacking the second level. Down the sidelines, Smith can get on top of a defense quickly. While his stride is short, his legs generate explosion.
What makes Smith a potential three-down back are his hands. With this in mind, realize that Smith caught 140 passes and 7 touchdowns for USM. Granted, most back will let the ball catch them, Smith plucks the ball like a wideout. In other words, Smith shouldn’t leave the field.
Surprisingly, Smith excels at picking up the blitz. Regardless of his frame, he will lay into blitzers. He occupies them enough for the quarterback to escape. Provided that no one asks him to regularly take on ends, Smith’s blocking holds up.
Currently, Marshawn Lynch’s status remains up in the air. Luckily, drafting Smith would not affect that. If you want a suitable replacement for Washington or Richard, Smith fills the need. In essence, he catches the ball better than both do, and could potential handle a heavy workload in spot duty. Moreover, Smith would contribute in the return game. Richard struggled in 2017. With Jon Gruden at the helm, the roster could shift, especially on offense. In reality, Smith’s versatility gives the Raiders options and roster flexibility. In addition, he would make a nice complementary back to whoever is the lead horse. On third down, Smith could work the flats and the slot. The Raiders need an infusion of offensive playmakers in the backfield.