2019 Raiders Draft Profile Prospect
Name: Irv Smith
Position: Tight End
School: The University of Alabama
Weight: 245 pounds
Draft Projection: Day 2
Despite Smith athleticism and reputation for being a pass-catching tight end, Smith excels in the run game. First, he generates great lower body drive that forces the defender wide. Smith will also stay behind his pads, effectively locking on and negating the end from making any effective play. What separates Smith from others is his willingness to fight at the line of scrimmage and remain physical with defensive ends throughout the running play. Takes that bit extra to be versatile.
After the catch, Smith nimbly maneuvers away from the defense. As a result, you will see a defensive back whiff on a tackle. Not many tackles possess the ability to maneuver and shift in space. Under those circumstances, he automatically becomes a pure nightmare of a matchup for defensive coordinators. During the route, that wiggle helps Smith create the distance needed to give his quarterback an alley to throw to.
If the ball hits Smith in the hands, he will catch it. More importantly, if a defender lurks and makes contact, he will still make the grab. Smith uses a vice-like like grip to secure the ball and transition it to the tuck position.
With Smith and his burst, one question arises: Whom do you cover him with? If you use a linebacker, Smith will probably streak past him and gash the defense. Yes, his speed is that good. In the open field, he gets to speed rather quickly and blows by any linebacker tasked to cover him. On the other hand, when facing a safety, Smith maintains the ability to streak by on his way to paydirt.
As mentioned, Smith will lock into a defender and fight him in and around the line of scrimmage. While strong, he may need to add 5-10 of anchor weight, in order to completely dominate in the blocking game.
Granted, the Raiders saw Jared Cook enjoy a career season. Yet, with free agency pending, the Raiders need to assess the tight end situation. First, Smith gives them a younger, faster version of Cook that is under team control for the next four seasons. Next, Smith gives Jon Gruden, and by extension, Derek Carr another threat in the middle of the field. Smith’s ability to win versus defenders gives the Raiders a threat to stretch defenses. Regardless of how they handle the wide receiver options, having Smith will open up the field for the offense.